The Gazette Daily News Podcast, May 21

A notice announces the closure of the campground at Palisades-Kepler State Park near Mount Vernon, Iowa on Thursday, Apr
A notice announces the closure of the campground at Palisades-Kepler State Park near Mount Vernon, Iowa on Thursday, April 23, 2020. State Park facilities and campgrounds are currently closed, but people have continued to get out for hikes and picnics. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

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Thursday will start cloudy and stay that way, the main thing that will change is the slight chance for rain that will go down as the day goes on. According to the National Weather Service, there should be a slight chance for drizzle before noon in the Cedar Rapids area. Besides that, it should be cloudy all day, with a high near 65 degrees. Wind will be generally light to moderate, with occasional gusts of 20 mph.

Access to movies, cultural events and camping will be coming back soon for Iowans but it will be at least next week before they can head back to their neighborhood bars and likely longer before they’re enjoying amusement park rides or placing bets at an Iowa casino.

Gov. Kim Reynolds on Wednesday said the coronavirus pandemic has stabilized enough in the state for her to allow indoor movie theaters, zoos, museums, aquariums and wedding reception venues to resume operations Friday — but only with public health measures to ensure social distancing and proper hygiene. Swimming pools will be allowed to open for lap swimming and lessons.

Reynolds, who previously loosened some restrictions on campgrounds, said more will be eased starting Friday at Iowa’s state parks, just in time for Memorial Day Weekend. The announcement affects modern restrooms and showers and rental cabins. Additionally, campgrounds will be open for all types of campers including RVs, pop-ups and tents. Beaches will also be reopened, but will remain closely monitored.

Bars and other establishments that serve alcohol will have to wait until May 28 to resume operations with restrictions. And starting June 1, schools can offer school-sponsored activities and learning — including high-school baseball and softball.

Speaking of sports, it wasn’t too long after the governor announced that Iowa high school sports could resume that the organizations governing prep sports in the state announced they would resume.

According to the Iowa Department of Education, team-organized practices for baseball and softball may begin June 1 unless circumstances dictate a change in date. Games may begin June 15. A long list of mitigation efforts are required to “help ensure player, coach, and spectator safety during games.”

These restrictions include limiting bleacher use for fans, encouraging players to use their own bats and other equipment where possible, and having coaches add the regular sanitizing of equipment to their list of duties. 

All these opening announcements came as 16 more people were announced to have died from the virus in Iowa Wednesday, bringing the state’s death toll to 383 people since the respiratory ailment was confirmed March 8 in Iowa. As of Wednesday morning, 381 Iowans were hospitalized (including 35 new admissions) with coronavirus-related illnesses, with 126 in intensive care and 84 requiring ventilators to assist their breathing.

Even Reynolds acknowledged the virus isn’t going anywhere.

“We have to recognize that the virus is in our communities and we have to learn to navigate that until, or if, a vaccine is discovered. And Iowans are doing that and we’re being responsible in the way that we’re doing that.”

Which is another way of saying, stay safe everyone. 

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