Gazette Daily News Podcast, April 3

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If you’re into sunny skies and all that jazz, Friday’s weather isn’t going to be very happy for you. According to the National Weather Service, there will be a high of 53 degrees in the Cedar Rapids area, but the temperature will drop into the 40s as the day progresses. An overcast start to the day with some scattered showers will give way to a higher chance of rain. As it gets colder overnight Friday, there may even be a chance for some snow, although there is no chance for significant snow accumulation predicted. Cheer up, though. It should be sunny on Saturday.

As for your daily coronavirus update, a lot happened Thursday, so much so that I won’t be able to cover all of it. For the sake of brevity, much of what was announced by the state government were restrictions already in place, they will just be extended an additional two weeks. For now.

Following President Donald Trump’s  announcement earlier this week that social distancing recommendations would be extended until the end of April, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds on Thursday extended restrictions that had been set to expire on April 16 to the end of the month as well. This includes the closure of most businesses and schools, a recommendation against holding social gatherings of 10 people or more, and an emphasis on thorough handwashing. Gov. Reynolds continued to resist instituting a shelter-in-place order, arguing the data at hand has not shown that to be necessary, but she did say Thursday that it is possible she could consider a targeted order for particularly hard hit areas in Iowa, such as Eastern Iowa where the positive case of the virus are growing the fastest.

In one major change, school districts throughout Iowa were informed that while they will not have to make up school days lost through April 13, they have until April 10 to inform the state how they plan to instruct students in the two weeks that follow while not being able to do so using their school buildings during those days. They can choose to make up those days later in the year at a physical location; they can provide required student instruction -- likely provided online -- that can be graded for credit; or they can choose voluntary enrichment courses that would be counted toward instruction time but schools could not provide grades or credit. Districts also have the choice to make up these days with a blend of these options.

It was also announced Thursday that more than 100,000 Iowans have filed for unemployment in the last two weeks, joining 6.6 million other Americans who have lost work as efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus has affected the economy. The largest sector affected in Iowa was accommodation and food services, which made up more than 10 percent of the unemployment applicants. 

The Iowa Legislature, also set to come back on April 16, has also delayed its session to April 30. Legislative leaders cited public safety as motivation but also the complexity that COVID-19 is presenting in terms of budgetary planning.

Today’s daily briefing is sponsored in part by Corridor Careers, now offering a virtual job fair on April 9th from 3 to 6 pm. For more job information, and to get yourself registered for the event, visit