The Gazette Daily News Podcast, March 26th

Streets are largely void of traffic in downtown Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazett
Streets are largely void of traffic in downtown Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

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I’m starting to hear the frogs sing from the nearby prairie wetlands while I work. They are going to love Thursday’s weather. According to the National Weather Service, Thursday in the Cedar Rapids area will begin with patchy fog.  Then there will be a 40 percent chance of showers after 1:00 p.m., and a 40 percent of showers again in the early hours of Friday morning. At all other times it will be cloudy and cool, with a high of 53 degrees. Rainy days, featuring more showers, should follow on Friday and Saturday.

Late on Wednesday the United States Senate unanimously passed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus financial package. The 880-page measure is the largest economic relief bill in United States history, and it is likely the first of more to come as the national government looks to ameliorate the damage to the economy caused by social distancing directives that have been adopted to stop the spread of the COVID-19 strain of the coronavirus.

The package would give direct payments of $1,200 to Americans making less than $75,000 a year, expand unemployment benefits and provide a $367 billion program for small businesses to help them make payroll,  and the bill includes a $500 billion program for subsidized loans to larger industries suffering from COVID-19 related woes, including airlines.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds at her daily press conference on Wednesday said she is resisting calls for additional shelter-in-home orders that have been enacted in other states, including Iowa’s neighbors Minnesota, Illinois, and Wisconsin. She said the orders she has already given, such as encouraging restaurants and other retail businesses to close, are already equivalent in some ways to a shelter in place order, so she does not feel additional orders would help, while they could potentially hurt supply chains. However, she said she is consulting public health data before making further decisions.

On Wednesday, the governor’s office announced another 21 positive coronavirus tests, bringing the state’s total to 145.

The Cedar Rapids Kernels are waiting to see if COVID-19 will lead to the cancelation of their baseball season. They were scheduled to open their season in early April, and that has already been scrapped, but will things improve enough soon enough for them to play the rest of it? Kernels CEO Doug Nelson says he is trying to remain optimistic.

“We are preparing for maybe getting half of a season in. But on the flipside, I’m preparing for what if we lose the whole season? We’ve certainly been in contact with the Twins organization, but the reality is no one really knows. And, as you are aware, it changes on an hourly basis.”