KXEL Morning News for Wed. Jul. 08, 2020

KXEL Morning News for Wed. Jul. 08, 2020

Gov. Reynolds announced Tuesday the state is allocating more than $50 million in CARES funding to Iowa’s mental health systems. $30 million will be directed to mental health regions to support ongoing adult and children’s mental health services and to help cover the increased needs that have resulted from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The remaining $20 million will go to mental health and substance abuse providers to cover increased cost during the pandemic. This is in addition to the nearly $1 million from FEMA that went directly to the Department of Human Services for crisis counseling services. 

Republican challenger state representative Ashley Hinson is reporting she has outraised Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer by more than $150,000 in the second quarter, which ended June 30. Hinson, a two-term state representative from Marion, reports raising more than $1.03 million in the second quarter and has $1.550 million cash on hand in a record-breaking fundraising period. Hinson now has raised more money than any Republican congressional candidate in the history of Iowa’s 1st Congressional District. Hinson added well over 8,550 first-time individual contributors, nearly doubling Finkenauer’s 4,600. The Finkenauer campaign reports raising $875,000 for the three-month period ending June 30.

The new United States/Mexico/Canada Agreement, USMCA, went into effect one week ago today…and concerns continue about Canada and dairy products. KXEL’s Tim Harwood talked with Mitch Schulte of the Iowa State Dairy Association about what steps need to be taken now to benefit U.S. producers. You can hear the full interview by going on line to KXEL-dot-com.

While the number of positive tests for COVID-19 continue to increase in Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds says that was anticipated. Meanwhile, a coronavirus outbreak that has infected 61 inmates and five staff members at the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility has claimed the life of its first inmate there. The Iowa Department of Corrections says 71-year-old Ray Allen Vanlengen died Monday at University of Iowa hospitals. He also had multiple preexisting medical conditions and had been serving up to 100 years in prison for four sexual abuse convictions from Black Hawk County. The earliest he was eligible to be released was January 2039.

Cedar Falls police are investigating an armed robbery outside College Square Mall Monday night. A teenage male told officers he had planned to meet someone in the mall parking lot. While he was sitting in his car waiting, another vehicle pulled up around 8:45 p.m. The two people in the other vehicle were armed with a knife and a gun, and demanded everything he had. The suspects left with the victim’s money; no injuries were reported.

Prosecutors in Iowa have filed a rarely used charge against one Black Lives Matter protester accused of stealing a confidential police document, and another who is accused of displaying it during a TV news broadcast. The two have been charged with unauthorized dissemination of intelligence data. It’s a felony charge that carries up to five years in prison. The Iowa Judicial Branch says it’s only the second time the charge has been used in the past decade. Des Moines police spokesperson Paul Parizek says it’s appropriate given the circumstances of the case. The document was a bulletin related to protesters who were under investigation for destroying a police car. 

The mayor of the city of Muscatine issued an order requiring facemasks be worn in public in her city, a move that was rejected as illegal by the county attorney there. During a news conference yesterday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said a city-by-city facemask rule would violate state law. The governor said while all options are under consideration, she did not anticipate changing any state proclamations regarding mandatory facemask usage.

The Franklin County Courthouse is closed for the rest of the week due to a county employee testing positive for COVID-19. Employees, included at the clerk of court’s office, are prohibited from entering the courthouse during this time and will be working offsite. Normal operations are expected to resume on Monday.

Sports fans won’t like this…the commissioner of the Missouri Valley Conference said yesterday that he would not feel comfortable playing basketball games if the season were to start today. The topic came up during a video conference with men’s basketball coaches and media members. The basketball season is still four months away. UNI head men’s coach Ben Jacobson confirmed that of the seven UNI student-athletes that tested positive for COVID-19 over the past three weeks…two of them are members of his team.

Employees at the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown have been disciplined more than 20 times for personal protective equipment lapses that potentially exposed residents and staff to coronavirus. Commandant Timon Oujiri says the strict approach to requiring masks and other equipment when interacting with residents and colleagues has helped keep coronavirus largely out of the state’s largest care facility. He says 25 employees and seven residents have tested positive since the beginning of the pandemic and all have recovered. Oujiri says he considers that a major success, since IVH has 456 residents and 900 employees. Nineteen employees have been suspended or reprimanded for potentially exposing residents or staff, and two others were fired during their probationary periods.