A portion of a new law that would impose a 24-hour waiting period on all abortions has been temporarily blocked by a Johnson County judge…just a few hours before it was to go into effect. The law was signed by Governor Kim Reynolds Monday afternoon…the ACLU of Iowa and Planned Parenthood sued last week, before the governor even signed it into law. Johnson County District Court Judge Mitchell Turner granted temporary injunctive relief yesterday afternoon which blocks the portion of the law requiring the 24-hour waiting period. Supporters of the law say the waiting period is necessary to help “ensure that decisions are made not under duress.”
Gov. Reynolds yesterday signed legislation to lower the cost of E-15 and higher blends of renewable fuels in Iowa by changing how the state taxes higher-blend biofuels. The bill was signed during Gov. Reynolds’ weekly press conference at Pine Lake Corn Processors in Steamboat Rock. Additionally, the governor announced $7 million more in funding for the Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program through the CARES act. This program offers cost-share money to fuel retailers in the state who convert their equipment, or install new equipment, to allow the expanded use of renewable fuels. The governor has now acted on all bills passed by the Iowa General Assembly this year.
MercyOne is moving its COVID-19 testing site to a new location in Waterloo. Beginning Wednesday, all swabbing will be conducted in the former ambulance garage on the MercyOne Waterloo Medical Center campus; the garage is located on the east side of the premises, just off St. Francis Drive. Operations at the temporary Fever and Upper Respiratory Clinic located at the Kimball Ridge Center ended Tuesday.
Governor Kim Reynolds announced changes to reporting COVID-19 recoveries at her weekly press conference on Tuesday. The state will count all people as recovered 28 days after a positive test, unless they are notified about a hospitalization. The Governor says the change occurred because the state was having a hard time hearing back from patients 10 days after a positive test. The recovery rate has therefore been inaccurately low, and will increase significantly because of this change. The Governor also said nearly 1 in 10 Iowans have been tested for the virus. Although some counties and regions have seen an increase in cases, the governor said she’s confident about continuing to reopen. The states positive test rate is now under 10 percent. On Monday alone, the positive rate was 5.1 percent. Test Iowa also tested over 3,000 people per day last week.
UnityPoint Health has reached a proposed $2.8 million settlement after two years of litigation over two phishing-related data breaches that occurred in 2018. The 1.4 million victims of the data breach will receive monetary and injunctive relief, including one year of comprehensive credit monitoring and identity theft protection services. Additionally, the victims will receive reimbursement of expenses for the cost of credit monitoring and identity theft protection services. UnityPoint said it has conducted a full investigation and implemented new safeguards to reduce the likelihood of a similar incident happening again. Patient information that was hacked possibly included names, addresses, dates of birth, medical records numbers, and insurance information. The attackers might also have gained access to patients’ Social Security numbers and/or driver’s license numbers. UnityPoint said a payment card or bank account number might also have been accessed for a limited number of patients.
The Waterloo Center for the Arts will begin the reopening process today…galleries will be open to the public for the first time since mid-March. Temporary hours will be Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and admission is free. Masks must be worn and social distancing is required. The reopening only extends to the galleries; the Phelps Youth Pavilion remains closed and will reopen at a later date.
Iowans are the first in the country to have permanent access to to-go cocktails, originally put in place temporarily for businesses suffering from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Governor Kim Reynolds signed the bill into law earlier this week. While Iowa is the first to make it a permanent measure, more than 30 other states are allowing restaurants and bars to sell cocktails and bottled spirits to-go. Advocates say the effort to offer to-go drinks is for those adults who are responsible and practice moderation. All cocktails and beverages are intended for home consumption and all local laws must be followed.
Administrators for the University of Iowa Athletics Department said that it will be slashing the budget for fiscal year 2021 by millions in order to stem the financial impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The budget will be cut by about $15 million…about $13 million in reduced operating expenses, and the rest in pay adjustments. The budget will still be around $112.5 million, but all the projections are based on the assumption that both football and basketball will complete seasons with fans in attendance. If those seasons, which generate significant revenue for the program, are disrupted, then further cuts would be needed. Head coaches Kirk Ferentz, Fran McCaffery, Tom Brands, and Lisa Bluder all voluntarily agreed to a 15% reduction in base salary or an equivalent contribution to the department for the next budget year. Athletics director Gary Barta reduced his total compensation by over 30 percent, and deputy athletics director Barbara Burke took a 25% salary reduction. The rest of the department staff will see pay reductions based on their classification and pay scale. Other colleges and universities’ athletic departments have announced similar budget restructurings, including Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa.
Grinnell College says it will cancel fall sports because of concerns about the coronavirus. The Division III school announced this week it would cancel sports including football, soccer, golf, cross country and volleyball. Grinnell officials say they will wait to decide whether to allow other sports later in the school year. The decision comes less than a year after the college canceled much of its football season because its roster had dwindled to 28 players due to injuries.
The 2020 baseball season is officially canceled for professional Minor League Baseball. That includes all games for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. Officials say single game tickets will be refunded through the ticket office and anyone who bought coupon books or gift certificates can use them in 2021. The Waterloo Bucks season begins today, with the home opener scheduled for tomorrow.