Gazette Daily News Podcast, January 20

Lights surround the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, placed as a memorial to COVID-19 victims Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, i
Lights surround the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, placed as a memorial to COVID-19 victims Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in Washington, after President-elect Joe Biden spoke, with the U.S. Capitol in the background. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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This is Stephen Schmidt from the Gazette digital news desk and I’m here with your update for Wednesday, Jan. 20.

Wednesday’s weather will be defined by the wind. While the National Weather Service forecasts it will be sunny in the Cedar Rapids area with a high of 36 degrees, the wind is predicted to pick up during the day to 15 to 20 mph, gusting as high as 35 mph. This high wind could drop the wind chill value to 5 degrees below zero. So, in summary, the ice and snow should melt some while it still feels freezing outside.

As President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into office on Wednesday, the task of bringing COVID-19 under control will clearly priority number one. On Tuesday the United States reported exceeding 400,000 deaths from the novel coronavirus since it appeared in the country early last year, a death toll nearly equal to the number of American lives lost annually to strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, flu and pneumonia combined. With COVID-19 deaths exceeding 4,000 per day due to a surge of the disease in states like California and Arizona, the number of deaths by the end of the week will likely surpass the number of Americans killed in World War II.

Because of the virus, and lingering security threats, expect a more subdued inauguration celebration Wednesday compared to those in the past.

The Eastern Iowa Airport saw the fewest total passengers in 2020 in at least 25 years as the coronavirus wreaked havoc on the commercial aerospace industry.

The 615,935 passengers marked a 53 percent drop from 2019 levels and broke a streak of six years with at least 1 million passengers. The lowest passenger total before 2020 in the airport’s digital records, which go back to 1996, was 829,760 in 1996.

The Eastern Iowa Airport is far from the only airport facing these challenges. Des Moines International Airport had its fewest total passengers in 2020 since 1984, according to the Des Moines Register.

The Iowa City Council on Tuesday threw its support behind a downtown development designed to revitalize and preserve the character of the Pedestrian Mall. A resolution approving $12.25 million in tax increment financing over 15 years for the project received unanimous support from the council Tuesday night.

The project — which comes with a $54.4 million total price tag  — involves designating buildings as historic landmarks in order to renovate and preserve them. The project would breathe life into the 100 block of East College Street by eliminating 50 percent of the commercial space, which would allow smaller businesses that would be open during the daytime to move in. 

Local restaurateur Jim Mondanaro plans to expand his Reunion brewery and restaurant into the former Fieldhouse location, and Riverside Theatre would move into the second and third floors of the former Union Bar.

This briefing is sponsored in part by Corridor Careers. Are you looking for a job? 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