Gazette Daily News Podcast, the Weekend of November 21 and November 22

Medical workers talk to people Thursday lined up for a COVID-19 test at the Test Iowa site at 5755 Willow Creek Dr. SW i
Medical workers talk to people Thursday lined up for a COVID-19 test at the Test Iowa site at 5755 Willow Creek Dr. SW in Cedar Rapids. This week, Linn County supervisors instituted a mask mandate, which includes all the cities in the county. Johnson County has had a similar mandate in place since August. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

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Your weekend weather will be a sneak preview for the predicted weather pattern for the week to come: colder than the week before, but perhaps a bit calmer on the wind end of things. According to the National Weather Service it will be mostly sunny in the Cedar Rapids area on Saturday with a high near 45 degrees and a calm wind of 5 mph. Saturday night there will be a low of 31 degrees with mostly cloudy skies and a calm wind. On Sunday, it will be partly sunny with a high near 46 degrees, with the wind getting a little bit more excited at 5 to 10 mph. Sunday night it should be mostly clear with a low of about 26 degrees.

Iowa ended the work week with another day with more than 30 deaths from COVID-19, with the state reporting 32 more people died from the disease. With the week not yet over, this already puts it on pace as by far the deadliest week since the pandemic began. 2,159 people have died so far from the novel coronavirus, with more than 500 of those deaths coming in the last 30 days.

Iowa also passed 200,000 positive cases of COVID-19 this week, with more than 50,000 of those cases coming in the past two weeks. Iowa at 11 a.m. Friday reported 4,346 new COVID-19 cases in the previous 24 hours, with a positivity rate of 40.40 percent. It was the 17th day in a row the state’s positivity rate has been 40 percent or above, according to Iowa Department of Public Health data analyzed by The Gazette.

The state on Friday also announced new outbreaks — defined as three or more cases — at 21 more long-term care facilities. Outbreaks are now reported at 117 such facilities in Iowa.

Hospitalizations for the virus continue to hover above 1,400, dropping down to 1,447 as of Friday night. 275 people are currently in intensive care for the virus.

Given ongoing First Amendment issues across Iowa’s public universities — including controversial syllabi, spurned student groups, and contentious social media posts — the Iowa Board of Regents has created a new committee to review its free speech policy and evaluate its campuses’ compliance. Additionally, board President Mike Richards this week tasked the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and University of Northern Iowa presidents to provide an update at the board’s February meeting “on exactly how each institution is protecting free speech on campus and in the classroom.”

Disputes have flared up recently, often between conservative groups seeking recognition and the student body and faculty at the universities who critique the groups’ views as creating an unwelcome campus environment and being out of step with their core values.

A Clive man was found dead in a burning vehicle near Lake Macbride State Park last Sunday.

Johnson County Sheriff’s Office said deputies were called at 11:23 p.m. that night to a vehicle crash near the entrance to Lake Macbride. Deputies found a vehicle that had crashed and was on fire.

The lone occupant of the vehicle — later identified as 21-year-old Connor Moll — died at the scene.

The crash is under investigation by the sheriff’s office, Solon Fire Department, Johnson County Ambulance Service and Johnson County Medical Examiner’s Department.