116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Be sure to subscribe to The Gazette Daily news podcast, or just tell your Amazon Alexa enabled device to “enable The Gazette Daily News skill" so you can get your daily briefing by simply saying “Alexa, what’s the news?
If you prefer podcasts, you can also find us on iTunes.
This is Stephen Schmidt from the Gazette digital news desk and I’m here with your update for Friday, April 16.
We will continue our slow climb up toward a warmer spring on Friday.
According to the National Weather Service, the day could start with patchy fog in the Cedar Rapids area. Otherwise it will be partly sunny with a high near 57 degrees and a mild breeze. There will be a low chance of rain after midnight on Friday.
Iowa public health officials announced Thursday that a new variant of the novel coronavirus has been detected in Johnson County. The Iowa Department of Public Health said there is a one confirmed case of the COVID-19 variant known as the Brazilian variant.
The new variant was identified by the State Hygienic Lab, which has been conducting routine analysis of genetic sequence data to understand what strains are circulating in Iowa and throughout the United States. Public health officials are speaking with the individual affected to track where this strain may have come from. Although research is continuing, researchers are worried that the Brazilian variant is mutating to be better able to evade the body’s immune response.
Studies have shown the P1 variant to be as much as 2.5 times more contagious than the original coronavirus and more resistant to antibodies. Iowa’s public health department stressed the importance of Iowans getting vaccinated against COVID-19, as the vaccines have shown effectiveness against known the original strain and known variants.
In good news, the number of fully vaccinated Iowans has surpassed 800,000 people.
As of Thursday, 800,257 Iowans have completed a vaccination series, according to IDPH data. The number is equal to 25.36 percent of all Iowans and 31.88 percent of Iowans 16 and older.
Statehouse Republicans are making progress on finalizing their state budget negotiations and whittling their list of the 2021 session’s must-do bills.
That list, a key House leader said Thursday, no longer includes a proposed ban on hand-held use of cellphones while driving.
House Speaker Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, told reporters that private discussions among House and Senate Republicans and Gov. Kim Reynolds have moved them closer to “the same numbers” in setting a fiscal 2022 spending plan and finalizing state budget pieces. Among other budget goals, state Republicans have expressed interest in cutting taxes.
Grassley said the cell phone ban would likely not have time to pass this session due to many questions members have over possible implementation of the enhanced law. Iowa law already prohibits the use of hand-held electronic communication devices to write, send or view electronic messages while driving.
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.