Gazette Daily News Podcast, December 16

A nurse administers the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to an emergency room nurse at the University of Iowa Hospitals
A nurse administers the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to an emergency room nurse at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

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It will still be cold on Wednesday, but at least it will be a little bit more cheerful out there. According to the National Weather Service, there is a high of 28 degrees predicted in the Cedar Rapids area, with partly sunny skies. On Wednesday night it will become mostly cloudy, with a low of around 19 degrees.

Despite promising vaccine news this week and lower daily new COVID-19 cases in Iowa this month, deaths from the disease continue to mount. The state reported 68 new deaths on Tuesday, bringing the state’s toll from the virus to 3,337. Hospitalizations for the disease, as well as those in intensive care or on ventilators due to the novel coronavirus, also ticked up Tuesday compared to Monday’s numbers.

With loud applause, and a sense of optimism not felt by some for months, the first vaccines against the novel coronavirus were administered in Cedar Rapids Tuesday.

Health care professionals and other front-line workers received some of the first doses of the newly approved COVID-19 vaccine in Eastern Iowa this week after shipments arrived at UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Hospital and Mercy Medical Center early Tuesday morning. These were the same Pfizer and BioNTech developed vaccines administered at the University of Iowa Hospital on Monday.

In other good COVID-19 news, another vaccine created by drugmaker Moderna was deemed both safe and highly effective against the disease by the FDA on Tuesday, clearing the way for a similar limited use approval later this week. The FDA has also approved the first COVID-19 test that can be purchased over the counter and completed entirely at home. This test, developed by Ellume, will be available in January.

Finally, a 9th BIg Ten football game for the Iowa Hawkeyes that was scheduled for this coming Saturday night to help extend a season abbreviated by the pandemic was canceled due to continuing COVID-19 infection problems on the University of Michigan football team. The game is one of several canceled this weekend due to the virus.

The Whirlpool Corporation has sold its manufacturing plant in Middle Amana for $92.7 million. The sale of the facility is not expected to affect employment, operations or products. At least, not right away. 

Benton Harbor, Mich.-based Whirlpool sold the Iowa plant on Oct. 26 to Wramia001, a Chicago-based limited liability company, according to the Iowa County Assessor’s website. The company plans to sign a long-term lease for the plant — which dates back to 1940 — rather than continuing to own it.

The Middle Amana plant assembles French door, bottom freezer and built-in refrigeration products under the Amana, JennAir, KitchenAid, Maytag and Whirlpool brands.

The Cedar Rapids City Council on Tuesday backed a North Dakota company’s request to redevelop an old McGrath dealership into new commercial and residential space. KC Land Holdings LLC’s proposal calls for a $17 million investment to redevelop 4001 First Ave. SE by demolishing three commercial buildings, building two new ones and constructing a 104-unit multifamily building. The site formerly was a McGrath Ford and Hyundai dealership, and most recently served as home to the Iowa Derecho Resource Center before it moved.

This briefing is sponsored in part by Corridor Careers.  Are you looking for a job? CorridorCareers.com is a resource to local job seekers where they can get job tips, sign up for local job alerts, build a resume and more. Check it out at CorridorCareers.com.

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