116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
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After experiencing a spike in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths after the Thanksgiving holiday, Iowa goes into Christmas week with continued high widespread virus activity and no significant gains in vaccination.
The Iowa Department of Public Health said 788 people were hospitalized on Monday, a slight decline from Friday’s 810. The agency said 171 people remained in intensive care, one person fewer than on Friday.
CDC data shows more than 10,700 cases and 112 additional deaths have been reported in the past seven days in Iowa, where 7,680 people have died since the start of the pandemic.
The CDC says 64.1 percent of Iowans have received at least one dose of vaccine, leaving more than 35 percent of the population still unvaccinated.
A seven-month security review of Iowa’s prison system shows crowding and challenges recruiting and retaining staff are creating potential security risks in Iowa’s nine prisons.
The systemwide review followed the March 23 murders of two employees at the Anamosa State Penitentiary by two inmates. The Iowa Corrections Department hired CGL Companies to conduct the review.
The Corrections Department did not make the entire security review public, instead releasing just a four-page summary and a timeline of events since March 23.
A point emphasized several times in the summary was Iowa’s prison system can’t recruit and retain enough correctional officers and nurses to adequately staff its prisons. It recommended using retention bonuses and enhancing and standardizing training.
It was also noted that Iowa’s prison system continues to be overcapacity, unlike other states that are reducing the offender population. As of Dec. 13, the system was 16 percent overbooked, with 8,106 offenders in facilities with a total capacity of 6,990, the summary states.
The summary does not give any recommendations for reducing crowding in the facilities.
The review also found the Corrections Department needs to develop a better screening process to match offenders’ behavior history and characteristics to their work assignments. The two inmates who killed staff at the Anamosa prison had access to tools they used in the slayings and their escape attempt.
Corrections Department Director Beth Skinner said the agency plans to work with facilities around the state to implement the recommendations made in the report.
A celebration of life is planned for two Decorah High School students who died following a crash that also injured three others from Decorah last week in Winneshiek County.
The memorial will be held at Decorah High School at 5 p.m. Thursday for the driver, Dalton Hemesath (him-e-soth), and passenger Karter Einck (eyenk). They were both 18.
Hemesath was preparing to study engineering at Iowa State University. Einck had plans to attend college at Iowa Central Community College and eventually transfer to the University of Northern Iowa to study business.
A private burial is planned for both services.
The single-car crash happened around 10:30 p.m. Friday at a rural intersection between Cresco and Decorah and north of Ridgeway when Hemesath lost control of the vehicle, according to the Iowa State Patrol. None of the passengers were wearing seat belts.
Other Big Ten schools have had to cancel upcoming games because of COVID-19, but for now Iowa and its opponents have been untouched by issues with the virus.
The Hawkeyes are still scheduled to play Tuesday night’s basketball game against Southeastern Louisiana at Carver-Hawkeye arena, with a less-than-half-capacity crowd expected.
In the hour Iowa held a press conference Monday with head coach Fran McCaffery and two of his players, Wisconsin announced it was looking for an opponent to play in Madison on Thursday because Morgan State was unable to play because of COVID-19 issues.
Rutgers also announced its Thursday home game against Central Connecticut State has been postponed.
Ohio State and Penn State had already put their men’s teams on pause because of COVID issues. Drake’s scheduled Wednesday game against Saint Louis in Las Vegas was canceled Monday afternoon.
Iowa’s game against Southeastern Louisiana is scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m.
According to the National Weather Service’s Quad Cities’ bureau: Tuesday will be mostly sunny, with a high near 37. It will be windy in the afternoon and evening, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Tuesday night will be mostly clear, with a low around 15.
It will continue to warm up as the week progresses so don’t expect a snowy Christmas. The high will be around 50 on Christmas Eve and around 40 on Christmas Day.