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Here’s your weekend update for Dec. 12-13, 2020:
A winter weather advisory remains in effect until 6 p.m. Saturday for much of eastern Iowa, including Linn County. Cedar Rapids could see 3 to 5 inches of snow and wind gusts up to 30 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service. It will be mostly sunny Sunday, with a high temperature in the low 30s both days.
The U.S. gave the final go-ahead Friday to the nation’s first COVID-19 vaccine, marking what could be the beginning of the end of an outbreak that has killed nearly 300,000 Americans. Shots for health workers and nursing home residents are expected to begin in the coming days after the Food and Drug Administration authorized an emergency rollout of what promises to be a strongly protective vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech. University of Iowa Health Care released a statement Friday night saying the first does could arrive in Iowa as soon as early next week.
Over the course of this unparalleled fall semester that forced Iowa’s public universities to tread a fine line between fostering a welcoming college environment and keeping their campuses safe in a pandemic, Iowa State University placed 27 students on deferred suspension for COVID-19 infractions. The University of Iowa, which wrapped its last day of classes Friday, on the semester issued 620 warnings, reprimands, or terms of probation for COVID-related violations — like failure to social distance, wear a mask, follow guest policy guidance, and quarantine or isolate. The UI disciplinary response to confirmed violations ranged from written warning to reprimand, requiring an official record be kept with the Office of Student Accountability. The next step in severity was probation.
State revenue forecasters expect slow, modest economic growth and uncertainty due to issues surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and gridlock over federal relief, but they hold out hope Gov. Kim Reynolds and legislators will have about $266 million more money to spend next fiscal year. Members of the Iowa Revenue Estimating Conference on Friday revised upward their current fiscal year projection by about $65 million to nearly $7.97 billion, and set a 3.7 percent growth rate for the upcoming fiscal 2022 budgeting year that would total almost $8.27 billion in tax collections.
Iowa City schools are returning to hybrid learning Monday, even though it received a state waiver Friday afternoon to continue with online-only learning. In an email to families Friday, interim Superintendent Matt Degner said that due to late notice and the current positivity rate in the community, the district will transition back to hybrid learning next week. The matrix guiding the district specifies it will consider online-only learning if Johnson County’s 14-day COVID-19 positivity rate is 10 percent or higher. On Friday afternoon, that 14-day rate was 11.3 percent.
The annual Cy-Hawk men’s basketball game was a mismatch. Third-ranked Iowa rolled to a 105-77 win over Iowa State Friday night to improve to 5-0. It was the most points the Hawkeyes have ever scored against the Cyclones and the largest margin of victory in the series. Luka Garza scored 34 points despite playing just 17 minutes. He made 13 of his 14 shots, including 6 of 7 from 3-point range.