Gazette Daily News Podcast, September 16

Callista Ruopp (center) helps her son Alexei Maier (right) get to the correct spot on a worksheet on his laptop computer
Callista Ruopp (center) helps her son Alexei Maier (right) get to the correct spot on a worksheet on his laptop computer as he participates in his first grade class while Zuly Palante (left) participates in her class at Ruopp's home in Iowa City, Iowa, on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

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Your Wednesday weather forecast is boring in the best possible way. According to the National Weather Service it should be mostly sunny in the Cedar Rapids area with a high of 82 degrees. The wind speed will hover between 5 and 10 mph.

Bars around the University of Iowa and Iowa State University must remain closed for now, but those around Cedar Rapids, Cedar Falls and Des Moines are free to reopen Wednesday evening, Gov. Kim Reynolds declared Tuesday.

The governor revised an order she issued Aug. 27 that closed bars and other similar establishments in six Iowa counties that in late August saw alarming spikes in new COVID-19 cases as college students returned to campuses for fall. Cases in Iowa, while still high for the state’s per capita rate, have been declining since then.

Reynolds’ order initially required bars in six counties to close until this Sunday. But her revision allows bars in Black Hawk, Dallas, Linn and Polk counties to reopen earlier than that, starting at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Bars in Johnson County and Story County — home to the UI and ISU, respectively — must stay closed through Sunday unless Reynolds changes her order.

The Iowa City Community School District is considering returning to the hybrid learning model Sept. 28, after three weeks of online instruction as cases of the coronavirus trend down in Johnson County.

The district received a second two-week waiver for online instruction last week from the Iowa Department of Education. At the time the district received the waiver, the 14-day positivity rate for Johnson County was above 15 percent. On Tuesday, the positivity rate was 13.45 percent.

The district is anticipating the 14-day positivity rate will drop below 10 percent by Friday, and at that point feel safe returning to hybrid learning of 50 percent in-person and 50 percent online. The decision will be officially announced to families Friday.

About 700 ImOn customers and hundreds of Mediacom customers are still without internet or landline service in the Cedar Rapids area more than four weeks after the Aug. 10 derecho smashed through Iowa. The companies had to wait for a massive amount of trees to be cleared and power lines rebuilt before they could fix their own lines, and they are now returning service by going to individual houses.

There are persistent whispers that Big Ten Football might return this fall. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Tuesday afternoon that a proposal has been approved for football this fall. The Journal Sentinel reported that the latest proposal to the Big Ten’s Council of Presidents and Chancellors included an Oct. 17 start with eight games in a nine-week window. As of Tuesday night, however, no official word had come from the Big Ten on players returning to the field after the decision was made to postpone the season due to the possibility of lingering health risks associated with COVID-19.

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