Gazette Daily News Podcast, Dec. 14, 2020

The Gazette
Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo m
Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant in Portage, Mich., Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, Pool)

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Here’s your update for Dec. 14:

The first shipments of a COVID-19 vaccine for widespread use in the United States headed Sunday from Michigan to distribution centers across the country. The first shots expected to be given this week to health care workers and at nursing homes.

Shipments of the Pfizer vaccine set in motion the biggest vaccination effort in American history during a pandemic that’s killed 1.6 million and sickened 71 million worldwide.

Initially, about 3 million doses were expected to be sent out. The priority is health care workers and nursing home residents as infections, hospitalizations and deaths soar in the U.S. With numbers likely to get worse over the holidays, the vaccine is offering a bright spot in the fight against the pandemic that’s killed nearly 300,000 Americans.

The virus has killed 3,209 Iowans since the pandemic began, according to numbers from the Iowa Department of Public Health on Sunday. There were 1,240 new cases reported Sunday morning for a total of 256,249 in the state.

A new audit report blames the national Democratic Party's involvement for problems that delayed the results of Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses last February.

The report commissioned by the Iowa Democratic Party says the Democratic National Committee insisted on a late change to a mobile app that precincts were supposed to use to report results. 

The change was meant to allow the national party to double-check the state’s data before allowing the state to publish results. But the technical malfunction prevented the Iowa Democratic Party from reporting results until after the New Hampshire primary and Nevada caucuses already were over. 

The state party’s chairman at the time, Troy Price, quit over the debacle.

The report also says the Democratic National Committee also did not deliver the app with enough time for the state party to adequately prepare for reporting caucus results or to adequately train workers on how to use the program.

The national Democratic Party declined to participate in the review.

The report makes a series of recommendations for how the state party could avoid similar missteps in the future.

After experiencing severe damage in the Aug. 10 derecho, Cedar Rapids’ Kennedy High School will finally reopen to students next month. 

Reconstruction crews have been working for more than four months to get the high school safe for students, who have been learning online since school started in September.

Crews are scheduled to be out of the building Jan. 4, and Kennedy teachers and staff will have a work day Jan. 8 to prepare their classrooms for students to return the following week.

When students return mid-January, they will be in hybrid learning — with half of students attending school on-campus and half attending online every other day. About 800 students will be on campus each day.

Kennedy High wasn’t the only Cedar Rapids school damaged in the derecho, but certainly was the most devastated.

Franklin, McKinley and Taft middle schools and Kennedy, Jefferson and Washington high schools began classes only online because of the derecho damage.

Students at Franklin, McKinley, Jefferson and Washington returned to in-person classes last Wednesday. Taft students return to in-person classes Dec. 14. 

Iowa and Iowa State football teams again moved up rankings this week, with Iowa State rising two spots to No. 8 in the Associated Press Top 25, and the Hawkeyes moving up 1 to No. 18. The Cyclones were also No. 8 in the coaches poll, and Iowa ranked 17. 

Iowa State faces Oklahoma in the Cyclones’ first Big 12 Championship at 11 a.m. Saturday. Iowa will play Michigan at Kinnick Stadium at 7 p.m. Saturday, part of the Big Ten Champions Week matchups. Ohio State faces Northwestern in the Big 10 title game at noon Saturday.

According to the National Weather Service, Monday’s weather will have increasing clouds, with a high near 25. Monday night will be mostly cloudy, with a low around 13. 

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.