21 COVID-19 Stories From the WMT Morning Show

1 Most CR Public Buildings Closed Due To Coronavirus

(Cedar Rapids) -- Nearly all public buildings in Cedar Rapids are closed until next month. City leaders say City Hall, the fire and police stations, the City Services Center, and other buildings are closed until at least April 13th. The city says it will still offer services online and over the phone.

2 United Way Opens Emergency Center In Johnson Co.

(Iowa City, IA) -- The United Way is activating its emergency center in Johnson County. The United Way will use the center to help people affected by COVID-19 coronavirus in the area. The organization is asking for volunteers on its website.

3 KCC In CR Cancels In-Person Classes Until April 10th

(Cedar Rapids, IA) -- Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids is canceling all face-to-face classes until early-April. Kirkwood announced Monday all classes including labs will be done online until at least April 10th. All buildings on campus will also be closed until April 3rd.

4 New Confirmed COVID-19 Case In Dallas Co.

(Des Moines, IA) -- There are now 23 confirmed cases of COVID-19 coronavirus in Iowa. Governor Kim Reynolds announced a new case in Dallas County Monday, the second case in the county. The other case involves community spread, meaning health officials don't know where it came from.

5 Urbandale School District Employee Tests Positive For COVID-19

(Urbandale, IA) -- An Urbandale School District employee tests positive for COVID-19 coronavirus. District Superintendent Steve Bass sent an email to students and staff Monday saying an employee at Karen Acres Elementary recently tested positive for the virus. Bass says the employee is currently quarantined at their house. All Urbandale schools are closed until April 13th.

6 DMPS To Cancels Classes Until April 13th

(Des Moines, IA) -- Des Moines Public Schools is canceling classes until April 13th. Superintendent Thomas Ahart announced Monday the closure is necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus. His decision comes one day after Governor Kim Reynolds recommended all schools in the state close for four weeks over coronavirus concerns. It's unclear when the last day of the school year will be.

7 Iowa To Offer Unemployment To People Affected By COVID-19

(Des Moines, IA) -- The State of Iowa says help will be available for workers affected by COVID-19 coronavirus. Iowa Workforce Development says people who are laid off or have to stay home to self-isolate or care for family members will get unemployment benefits if they meet certain requirements. Workforce Development says people should expect payments in seven-to-ten days after the claim is filed. Iowa's jobless rate was two-point-eight percent in January, unchanged from December.

8 IL School Closure Starts Today

(Undated) -- All pre-k through 12 schools in Illinois are now closed through the end of the month over COVID-19 coronavirus concerns. Illinois Governor JB Pritzker announced the closures last Friday and they take place today. Pritzker has advised classes not resume until March 31st.

9 IA Hygienic Lab Adds Second Shift For Coronavirus Testing

(Undated) -- A second shift is added to Iowa's Hygienic Lab to process more COVID-19 coronavirus tests. Governor Kim Reynolds says the lab will now be able to run over 100 tests per day. She says the lab will add a third shift if it becomes necessary.

10 Casinos Closed

(Davenport, IA) -- Rhythm City Casino in Davenport, Riverside Casino, Q Casino in Dubuque and Meskwaki Casino near Tama are temporarily closed due to concerns over COVID-19 coronavirus. 

11 IA DOT To Offer Services By Appointment Only

(Undated) -- Iowans can only receive Iowa Department of Transportation service by appointment. The Iowa DOT says it decided to move all services by appointment only starting today due to COVID-19 coronavirus concerns. Customers will also be asked questions about their health once they arrive at a service center. Customers may also be asked to wait in line in their cars.

12 Wisconsin Governor Bans Crowds Over 50 People

(Madison, WI) -- Help out and stay home. That's the advice from Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers as the state deals with the coronavirus. The governor yesterday ordered a ban on all crowds of 50 or more people. Grocery stores, pharmacies, and daycare centers are exempt. The governor says it is up to all of us to keep some 'social distance' during the outbreak. It will be up to local authorities to enforce the ban on crowds over 50 people.

13 Wisconsin National Guard On Level 1 Activation

(Madison, WI) -- Wisconsin's National Guard is on its highest alert level. Governor Evers and the state's adjutant general this week moved to a Level 1 activation. The last time the guard and Wisconsin's emergency managers were on this high of an alert was on New Year's Eve in 1999 for the Y2K scare. A Level 1 activation opens the doors for a statewide response. Teams from almost every state agency are now in Madison at the state's emergency operations center.

14 Wisconsin Election Managers Urge Absentee, Early Voting

(Madison, WI) -- There is another call for people across the state of Wisconsin to vote early or vote by mail. Both the Wisconsin Election Commission and Governor Tony Evers yesterday said not going to the polls next month could help keep people healthy. The deadline to request an absentee ballot through the mail is tomorrow, after that you'll have to go to the clerk's office in person. Some communities in Wisconsin start early voting this week, while others will start next week. The governor says there are no plans to move or cancel the state's primary.

15 (KCRG) - Right now, not everyone in Iowa who has the symptoms of the COVID-19 strain of the coronavirus is able to be tested for it.

Hospitals in Iowa no longer need to receive approval from the Iowa Department of Public Health to administer a test, as they previously had, but those hospitals report they are still following the guidelines set by the department and the State Hygienic Lab in Coralville to determine who gets a test.

In order to qualify for testing, patients must meet one of the following criteria:

Hospitalized patients with fever and respiratory failure and no alternate diagnosis.

Hospitalized older adults (> 60 years of age) with fever and respiratory symptoms (cough, difficulty breathing) and chronic medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, immunosuppressive medications, chronic lung disease, or chronic kidney disease).

Any persons (including healthcare providers) with household contact with a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19 in the 14 days prior to becoming ill with fever or respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, difficulty breathing).

Any persons with a history of international travel to a country with a Level 3 CDC travel health warning or have taken an international cruise in the 14 days prior to becoming ill with fever and respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, difficulty breathing) and no alternate diagnosis.

As of Monday, March 16, nations included in the CDC’s Level 3 travel health warning are China, Iran, and most countries in Europe. The Iowa Department of Public Health and local hospitals said they’re following these restrictions for the same reason: There aren’t enough tests in Iowa for everyone who wants one, or even for those who only have symptoms.

16 (KCRG) - School districts across Iowa are scrambling to figure out what to do with students, staff and even lesson plans, following Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds' recommendation that schools should close for four weeks.

The Iowa City Community School District will close until Monday, April 13th. School leaders tell TV9 they are working on programming so online course work could be available to students. But the details of how that will work are scarce right now.

Clear Creek Amana School District will also close for at least four weeks. Crews cleaned the property surrounding the schools on Monday. Cedar Rapids Community School District did not reply to TV9's calls or emails about school closings. A note from Superintendent Noreen Bush said the district will close school for four weeks.

Some school districts in Iowa may go beyond the recommended four weeks. Lone Tree Community School District is closed until further notice. The Superintendent at Union Community School District in Black Hawk County said schools will re-open once buildings are deemed safe, and that could be more than four weeks away.

17 (KCRG) - City leaders in Dubuque are taking steps to prohibit gatherings on public grounds and recommends that private businesses do the same, according to information provided by the city.

Mayor Roy D. Buol said he was declaring a state of emergency for the city of Dubuque at a city council meeting on Monday, March 16, 2020. This prohibits groups of 50 or more people from gathering on public property, according to the mayor.

Most city buildings will be closed to the public starting on Tuesday, March 17, including City Hall and its annex, Housing & Community Development, the Leisure Services Department, Bunker Hill Golf Course, the Municipal Services Center, the Multicultural Family Center, the Comiskey Park Building, and the Allison Henderson Park Building.

City staff will continue to provide services by other, non-face-to-face means, according to the city. Meetings and gatherings in Comiskey Park and Allison Henderson Park are canceled.

18 (KCRG) - An eastern Iowa-based grocery chain will be offering its senior citizen customers the opportunity to shop before the general public in order to reduce their potential exposure to the novel coronavirus.

New Pioneer Co-Op will be holding "Senior Shopping Hour" between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday, according to a post on the chain's Facebook page. The special hour will begin on Thursday, March 19, 2020.

Elderly people are at especially high risk from complications of COVID-19. The company's stores will also be reducing its hours to between 10:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. beginning on Wednesday, March 18.

19 (KCRG) - Legislators have reached an agreement to push forward legislation that would waive the instructional time requirement for Iowa's school systems after many canceled classes to help limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The agreement, reached by Senate and House leaders, would mean that school districts would not need to reschedule school days that were canceled between March 16 and April 12, 2020. Leadership suggested that the legislation to achieve this waiver would advance as soon as possible. Gov. Kim Reynolds expressed her support for the measure during a press conference on Monday.

20 (KCRG) - Theatre Cedar Rapids says it is temporarily closing to accommodate the CDC's recommendations to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Last week, the theater said shows would go on as scheduled, and it planned to increase cleaning practices as well as install hand sanitizer stations. Now the theatre says it will stay closed until May 15. It is rescheduling dates for its upcoming season of productions, and it will contact ticket holders on any exchanges they need to make. The theatre is also suspending walk-up box office services until further notice.

21 (KCRG) - The CDC has approved a company in eastern Iowa to start making large quantities of kits to test COVID-19. Integrated DNA Technologies in Coralville announced Monday they were the first in the country to obtain approval to make their primer and probe test kits. Starting this week, the company is expected to make 5 million kits a week.

IDT also noted will will also continue to supply its key component to laboratories, which may assist them in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. IDT’s recent history includes providing products to diagnostic test manufacturers developing test for H1N1, Ebola virus, and Zika virus.

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