Your Thursday Afternoon Coronavirus/COVID-19 Regional Update

IDPH: 125 New Cases of COVID-19 in Iowa, State Total 1,270

(Des Moines, IA) -- The Iowa Department of Public Health is confirming 125 new cases of COVID-19 in the state. Governor Kim Reynolds confirmed the new cases at the states' daily press conference this morning. The new cases bring the state total to one-thousand-270. There have also been 29-deaths.

Iowa Gov. Clarifies Order to Close Campgrounds 

(Des Moines, IA) -- Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds is clarifying an order to close campgrounds due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The order Monday closed private and public campgrounds including state-owned cabins and yurts on properties open for recreational purposes. The governor yesterday clarified that campgrounds are open for non-recreational purposes like self-isolation from COVID-19. The order caused some confusion among public and private campground operators who began offering spaces to healthcare workers and first responders.

Iowa's Unemployment Claims Climb 

(Des Moines, IA) -- Iowa's unemployment claims are continuing to climb. Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend says the office paid out over 27-million-dollars in claims last week. Townsend says claims are coming in from tens-of-thousands of Iowans who were laid off or given reduced hours due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The most claims were in healthcare and manufacturing with more than nine-thousand claims each. 

Sen. Joni Ernst Says Small Businesses Will Get Their Money Soon 

(Cedar Rapids, IA) -- Small business owners should see federal relief checks very soon. Iowa Senator Joni Ernst spoke with Iowa small business owners yesterday who are trying to apply for federal funding through the Small Business Administration. Senator Ernst said the program has some problems, but she called for businesses to have patience. This is the largest domestic economic relief the administration has ever done. Ernst says once banks can close on the loans, people should see the money quite rapidly. 

Law Enforcement Agencies Concerned About Child Abuse Increasing 

(Iowa City, IA) -- Law enforcement agencies are concerned about the decreasing number of child abuse cases being reported. The Iowa Department of Human Services says child abuse reports have significantly decreased, but they expect a spike in abuse with parents under stress and kids not in school being seen by educators due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials say the number of child abuse reports dropped from 342-reports the first week in March to five by the end of the month. Police say if anyone believes a child is in danger, to call 9-1-1. 

NextGen Iowa Hosts Virtual Town Hall For Young People 

(Cedar Rapids, IA) -- Young people are getting the chance to ask questions about the coronavirus. NextGen Iowa is hosting a virtual town hall meeting tonight to answer questions from young people about COVID-19 and touch on social distancing issues young people may be facing as they miss out on prom, spring sports, or the possibility of graduation. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. Registration is available on the NextGen Iowa Facebook page.Des Moines Metro Waste Authority Suspends Curbside Pick-up

(Des Moines, IA) -- Metro Waste Authority is suspending curbside pickup for large items this week. The company says it will still pick up appliances, but they won't pick up items like large couches and tables. Residents are being asked to call and arrange pick up and purchase a five-dollar sticker. Metro Waste Authority says regular garbage is being picked up as usual. People wondering about disposal costs for items are encouraged to call 515-244-0021. 

West Des Moines Historical Society Looking for COIVD-19 Pandemic Stories 

(West Des Moines, IA) -- The West Des Moines Historical Society is looking for people to share their COVID-19 pandemic stories. The society is asking people to share stories of life during the pandemic to document the lives of local Iowans. The Share Your Story project began last fall to celebrate the historical society's 50th birthday. The Historical Society is asking Iowans to keep track of experiences and submit them to the historical society's website. 

Davenport Hotels Provide Free Meals to Employees 

(Davenport, IA) -- A two Davenport hotels are providing free meals to their employees including those who are laid off. Hotel Blackhawk and The Current are also providing meals for community members in need. Marketing and Sales Director Nick Cox says the hotels are preparing to come back better than before the COVID-19 pandemic, so they're taking care of the employees and communities that bring them business. Cox says they're currently feeding 70 to 100 workers right now and are hopeful for more. 

Two Rivers YMCA Offers Emergency Preschool Programming for Kids of Essential Workers 

(Moline, IL) -- Two Rivers YMCA is now offering emergency preschool programs for children of essential workers. The Y is offering programming for children ages three to five in addition to the School's Out program for children ages five-to-12. Program Executive Jeff Cornelius [[cor-knee-lee-us]] says the Y is taking extra precautions to keep kids safe in a group environment. Child care for essential workers is now available from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30p.m. Monday through Friday. 

Eau Claire County Hopeful for Higher Voter Turnout 

(Eau Claire, WI) -- The Eau Claire City Clerk is hopeful to see higher voter turnout after absentee ballots are counted this week. City Clerk Carrie Riepl [[ REE-pull ]] says the city expected at least 60-percent of voters to cast a ballot Tuesday, but only 47-percent of registered voters turned out for the Wisconsin Primary Election. Riepl says that's about 18-thousand votes including processed in-person and absentee ballots. Riepl says the city is working on a plan to finish counting the remaining absentee ballots before April 13th. 

Marshfield Clinic Health System Temporarily Furloughing Employees 

(Marshfield, WI) -- Marshfield Clinic Health System is temporarily laying off staff who are not currently involved in the preparation for an anticipated surge of COVID-19 cases. The health system yesterday announced they decided to furlough some staff because of a drop in the number of patients being seen. The clinic is also reducing wages for executives, management, physicians, and advanced practice clinicians. Marshfield says they'll recall the furlough if patient volumes increase or the COVID-19 situation changes. 

Area Colleges Launch Emergency Funds To Help Students During Coronavirus Pandemic

(Undated) -- Three Twin Cities universities are offering funding to struggling students facing financial problems due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Macalester College, the University of St. Thomas and the University of Minnesota are making emergency funding to undergraduates. The funds are available to help students with financial needs like rent payments, groceries and utility bills, including internet access.

Wisconsin Election Commission Looking Into Absentee Ballot Gap

(Madison, WI) -- The Wisconsin Election Commission is waiting to see just how many of the state's 'missing' absentee ballots are really missing. Commission administrator Meagan Wolfe told reporters yesterday that some of the gap between the number of ballots sent-out and the number of ballots returned by voters is a data entry issue. She says clerks have not reported all of their ballots yet. Wolfe said the commission is looking into reports of ballots from Oshkosh and Appleton that were found at the Post Office. It's not clear if those ballots were being mailed to voters, or being mailed back to the local clerks.

Wisconsin Coronavirus Count: Over 100 Dead, 28 Hundred Infected

(Madison, WI) -- Wisconsin's coronavirus numbers continue to inch-up. The state's Department of Health Services yesterday confirmed 105 deaths from the virus so far. Doctors also confirmed that two-thousand-817 people have tested positive for the coronavirus. A little less than 30-percent of those people have had to go to the hospital. In all, over 30-thousand people have been tested and cleared.

Spending Powers May Scuttle Wisconsin Coronavirus Relief Package

(Madison, WI) -- Republican lawmakers in Madison want to have more control over state spending, and are adding their proposal to Wisconsin's coronavirus aid package. The latest proposal would allow the state's Joint Finance Committee to cut school spending and other state spending if Wisconsin sees a budget deficit. Governor Tony Evers says that's unacceptable. He's talking about vetoing the entire aid package because of it. The package would give help to people on unemployment, send more money to Wisconsin hospitals, as well as help small businesses across the state.

Lakefront Offering Free Beer To Healthcare Workers

(Milwaukee, WI) -- If there is anyone who can use a cold beer, it's Wisconsin's healthcare workers. And the Lakefront Brewery is making sure they get one, or six. Lakefront is offering all healthcare workers a free six-pack next Tuesday. That is the annual 414 day. Lakefront says it's a way to say thanks. All healthcare workers with a valid ID can pick-up a sixer of Riverwest Stein and special 414 glass at the brewery.

Stephens Family YMCA Expanding Day Camp

(Champaign, IL) -- The Stephens Family YMCA in Champaign is expanding their emergency day camp. The program will now include all essential workers identified by the state. The move comes after the governor updated the essential workers list recently. Spots are limited despite the increased demand.

UIS Waiving Fees, Extending Decision Deadline

(Springfield, IL) -- The University of Illinois Springfield is helping out prospective students during the COVID-19 pandemic. UIS is extending its decision deadline for incoming freshmen to June 1st. The school is also waiving application and enrollment fees. The admissions office is offering virtual appointments and weekly webinars as well.

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