Gazette Daily News Podcast, August 6

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds removes her face mask before signing an executive order granting convicted felons the right to vo
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds removes her face mask before signing an executive order granting convicted felons the right to vote during a signing ceremony, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020, at the Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

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Another nice day of weather is coming Thursday. According to the National Weather Service it should be mostly sunny with a high near 80 degrees in the Cedar Rapids area. Thursday night it will be partly cloudy, with a low of around 60 degrees. The windspeed all day will hover between 5 and 10 mph.

Iowa passed the 900 death mark from COVID-19 by the end of the day Wednesday, with 906 people having died from the novel coronavirus in the state so far. The recovery numbers from the disease continue to look good this week, but the amount of those testing positive spiked up to over 400 Wednesday while the numbers of people tested remained relatively constant. About half of these positive cases came from Polk, Linn, and Johnson Counties. The amount of people hospitalized for treatment of the disease remained at 243.

In Linn County local leaders issued a proclamation Wednesday calling on Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds to allow local control of issuing the rules on mandatory mask policies. This follows a push from both medical officials and elected officials in affected counties calling for the increased use of masks to stop the spread of the disease.

During a joint Linn County Board of Supervisors and Board of Health meeting, the proclamation was finalized and sent to Reynolds. On Monday, the Mount Vernon City Council approved a mask mandate for the city. In recent weeks, Johnson County, Iowa City and North Liberty have enacted or taken steps to enact mask mandates.

In non COVID-19 news, thousands of qualifying felons in Iowa will be eligible to vote this November thanks to an executive order Gov. Reynolds signed Wednesday that automatically restores their voting rights once they have discharged their sentence or been granted probation or parole. Making good on a promise, Reynolds signed the order during a Statehouse ceremony that drew state legislators, Black Lives Matter activists and a coalition of groups that have worked since 2011 to restore felons’ right to vote and run for public office. The order does not apply to felons who were convicted under Iowa’s Chapter 707 homicide criminal code section — which includes murder, manslaughter and voluntary manslaughter — nor does it extend voting rights to felons with special lifetime sentences for sexual crimes or other offenses.

In sports, assuming there is a college football season, the Iowa Hawkeyes will open the season in Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 5. The Big Ten unveiled a 10-game conference-only schedule on the Big Ten Network Wednesday morning. The season is set to end Nov. 21, with two bye weeks and the Thanksgiving break being observed. The breaks leave as many as four “outs” in case COVID-19 shuts down a team, or a significant portion of a team, for a week. Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said the extra weeks will be used for flexibility because of the virus.

This week I wanted to take the end of the briefing as an opportunity to thank our listeners. It has been two years now since I started doing these, and with the help of my digital news teammates this year we have made it a daily affair. 

And, while thanking you all, I would like to invite you all to tell us what you like about our briefing or what you might like changed. Would you like fewer narrators named Stephen, or more? Longer weather segments? More sports? A longer or shorter briefing in general? Send these comments and suggestions, or anything else you would like, to podcasts@thegazette.com.