KXEL Morning News for Tue. May 26, 2020

KXEL Morning News for Tue. May 26, 2020

The mayors of seven Iowa cities—including Waterloo and Cedar Rapids signed a letter appearing in the Des Moines Register calling on federal officials to approve federal aid for cities. The mayors are seeking “unrestricted aid for our cities to assist in supporting our front-line workers,” including health care workers, police and firefighters. The mayors say forcing cities to declare bankruptcy would lead to employee layoffs and pay cuts and would force the elimination of some essential city services. The state is confirming 459 total deaths related to COVID-19 as of midday yesterday, with 17,555 testing positive for the virus.

The Iowa Department of Public Health provided Hy-Vee with 75,000 cloth masks to distribute to customers at its stores today. Every Hy-Vee grocery store and drugstore in Iowa will have approximately 500 cloth masks to give to customers on a first-come, first-served basis. Hy-Vee says the masks are intended for those who haven’t been able to obtain one yet. 

Des Moines Police say a teen who was shot in the neck over the weekend has died from his injuries. The shooting happened Saturday afternoon in a home just north of the city’s downtown. Police say 17-year-old Ishmael Muhammad was taken to a hospital, where he later died. Police say people in the house initially told officers that Muhammad had shown up with the gunshot wound. But investigators determined that a small group of teens that included Muhammad were in a house where a handgun was accidentally fired and hit Muhammad. A 16-year-old has been charged as a juvenile with involuntary manslaughter and other counts.

Authorities are investigating the death of a hiker in Palisades-Kepler State Park in Mount Vernon. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says 32-year-old Brian Jungen of Coralville died Friday after a fall. Officials say a group of four hikers found Jungen on the Cedar Cliff Trail with several cuts to his head. Jungen was able to speak to the hikers before he blacked out. When paramedics arrived, they were not able to locate Jungen’s pulse, and he was pronounced dead.

The Iowa Judicial Branch says it will postpone jury trials in criminal cases until at least Sept. 14 and push back any in-person proceedings until July 13 or later because of the coronavirus threat. Some hearings can begin July 13 or earlier if courthouses meet recommended safety protocols, but the use of teleconferences and video conferences will continue to be encouraged. Health officials have warned that crowded courtrooms could be venues to spread the virus to clerks, jurors, lawyers, witnesses, spectators and defendants.

One of Iowa’s most reliable sources of personal protective equipment to fight the coronavirus has been a statewide prison labor program. Prisoners have helped make 98,000 masks, 40,000 gowns, 17,000 face shields and 24,000 gallons of hand sanitizer in recent weeks. The Iowa Department of Corrections says inmates and staff at several prisons have been working weekends and nights. The gear is used to protect inmates, guards, state employees and health care workers.

A suburban Des Moines school district and a former student have reached a $900,000 settlement with a student who suffered permanent brain damage after being attacked at school. Audrey Vacek sued the Ankeny Community School District and another student after the attack in 2016.

A storm system produced several tornadoes in eastern Iowa Saturday afternoon. The National Weather Service categorized a tornado in NE Johnson County that moved into Cedar County as an EF-1 tornado…another EF-1 tornado moved from Cedar into Jones County. Yet another tornado of unknown strength was confirmed in Jackson County. There have been 11 confirmed tornadoes in Iowa so far this year. 

The governing bodies for high school athletics in Iowa made the ruling last Wednesday–baseball and softball are able to begin practice starting next Monday. But not all schools are going to play. With COVID-19 cases in Wright County increasing at a rapid pace, the Belmond-Klemme school district decided not to allow their students to play. According to coverage partner KIMT-TV, coaches and other administrators are not allowed to comment at this time…but parents and players took to Facebook voicing their frustration with the school board’s decision.