Gazette Daily News Podcast, October 7

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, answers questions Tuesday from members of the East Side Cedar Rapids Rotary at Legacy Manuf
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, answers questions Tuesday from members of the East Side Cedar Rapids Rotary at Legacy Manufacturing in Marion. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

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Your Wednesday weather forecast should be pleasant and sunny. According to the National Weather Service, there should be clear skies all day Wednesday in the Cedar Rapids area with a high of 76 degrees. The evening low will drop to 46 degrees.

More than 1,400 Iowans have died of COVID-19. The grim milestone was reached Tuesday, with hospitalizations for the disease also climbing to 413, 4 short of the highest COVID-19 hospitalization rate seen in the state since the pandemic began. In a bit of good news, recent numbers show that bar closures ordered by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds targeting college aged students has drastically lowered the rate of transmission among this age group. Reynolds lifted the ban on the bars on Monday, while still requesting that they follow strict social distancing guidelines.

About 100 employees have been laid off at the Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel in Tama. Casino General Manager Dan Stromer said the decision was made last week and is a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which closed down the casino temporarily in March. He said the layoffs were mainly casino employees who have been furloughed throughout the year since the start of the pandemic tied to food and entertainment positions that were no longer in sufficient amounts even after the casinos reopened July 1.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday called an abrupt end to negotiations with Democrats over additional COVID-19 financial relief, delaying action until after the election despite warnings from his own Federal Reserve chairman about the deteriorating conditions in the economy.

Trump tweeted that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was “not negotiating in good faith” and said he’s asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to direct all his focus before the election into confirming his U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett.

The economy has been buttressed up to this point by a $2 trillion stimulus package that was passed in March.

The University of Iowa is pausing for two weeks all of its diversity and inclusion training and programming to evaluate whether any of it violates a new executive order from President Donald Trump banning what he referred to as race or sex “stereotyping” or “scapegoating” training for federal workers, contractors or grant recipients.

In a message disseminated over the weekend to the UI president’s cabinet and council of deans, Liz Tovar — interim associate vice president for UI Diversity, Equity and Inclusion — said the temporary stoppage doesn’t alter the campus’ commitment to diversity.

Finally, during its formal meeting, the Iowa City Council unanimously approved City Manager Geoff Fruin’s recommendation to hire El Paso (Texas) Police Lt. Dustin Liston as the city’s new police chief. Fruin has credited Liston’s experience working with a diverse population in the college community of El Paso, working with policing programs and his willingness to lead the department through a period of change.

Liston’s hiring is part of the city’s overall desire to move to a community policing model. These changes will take place over the next year as the city staff hopes to adapt to a summer of unrest against policing both locally and nationally.

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