Gazette Daily News Podcast, November 20

Workers on Thursday leave after their shift at Tyson's Fresh Meat plant in Waterloo. The facility is Tyson's largest por
Workers on Thursday leave after their shift at Tyson’s Fresh Meat plant in Waterloo. The facility is Tyson’s largest pork processing plant in the nation. (Brandon Pollock/Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier)

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The high temperature will drop about 20 degrees from Thursday, but, on the other hand, Friday will be your first non-windy day of the week. According to the National Weather Service, it will be mostly sunny in the Cedar Rapids area on Friday with a high near 52 degrees. On Friday night it will be mostly cloudy, with a low of a crisp 31 degrees, with the light wind of the day calming even further.

Iowa on Thursday reported 4,193 new COVID-19 cases, with a positivity rate of 40.17 percent.

It was the ninth consecutive day Iowa has reported more than 4,000 new cases. It was the 16th day in a row the positivity rate has been 40 percent or above, according to Iowa Department of Public Health data analyzed by The Gazette. Hospitalizations were down slightly — from Wednesday’s 1,527 to Thursday’s 1,516 — after increasing 11 days in a row. 25 people died from the disease on Thursday, bringing the state’s death toll from the disease to 2,127. 

Gov. Kim Reynolds and Dr. Caitlin Pedati, the state epidemiologist, said Thursday that as the numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Iowa have exploded over the past month, their case investigations are focusing on two areas: large household gatherings and outbreaks at senior care facilities.The focus on large family gatherings comes as the Thanksgiving holiday looms on the horizon next week. 

Tyson Foods suspended at least two high-level managers Thursday and launched an investigation into reports a manager organized a betting pool among supervisors to wager how many workers at the meat packing plant would get COVID-19 during the early days of the pandemic. The revelations were released through a lawsuit by the families of 4 Tyson workers who died after nearly 1,000 of the 2,800 employees at the Waterloo plant contracted COVID-19 early in the pandemic. In the lawsuit, it is alleged that the supervisors started the pool after downplaying the severity of the disease and pressuring workers into staying on the job despite worsening conditions.

The Waterloo facility is Tyson’s largest pork plant in the United States. It employs about 2,800 workers who slaughter about 19,500 hogs per day. 

Mercy Iowa City is notifying more than 60,000 patients that their personal information may be at risk after an unauthorized user gained access to an employee’s email account earlier this year.

Though the hospital has no reason to believe any personal information has been used to commit fraud or identity theft, officials said in a news release this week they are encouraging patients to protect themselves. In a letter to the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, the law firm representing Mercy Iowa City said the hospital determined that 60,473 Iowa residents may be affected.

The forensics security firm contracted by Mercy determined Oct. 3 that the hijacked account contained protected health information and other personal information, including Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers and medical treatment information, among other data.