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Gazette Daily News Podcast, March 17
This is Stephen Schmidt from the Gazette Digital News Desk, and I’m here with your update for Friday, March 17.
Happy Saint Patrick's Day. I hope your luck today is better than Iowa’s in the NCAA tournament.
Friday is going to be the start of three days where it feels like winter again; but don't worry, it'll get warm again right after.
According to the National Weather Service it will be mostly cloudy through mid morning in the Cedar Rapids area and then gradually clear to let the sun through, with a high near 32 degrees. The breeziness will remain from Thursday, with a wind of 20 to 25 mph gusting as high as 40 mph. Friday night will be chilly, with a low of 11 degrees combining with high winds to drop the wind chill value to -5 degrees.
Legislation that would prohibit transgender youth from using school bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity is headed to Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds for her signature.
The Iowa House voted 57-39, with five Republicans joining Democrats in opposition, to pass Senate File 482.
The legislation requires public schools to maintain separate bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, dressing areas and overnight accommodations for biological boys and biological girls.
Students wishing for greater privacy would need parental permission to request use of alternative facilities, such as a single-occupancy or faculty bathroom or locker room. Schools would be required to evaluate such requests and, “to the extent reasonable, offer options for alternative facilities.”
The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics this week stopped requiring patients and health care providers to wear masks.
The announcement came just a few days short of the third anniversary of the first COVID-19 hospitalization at UIHC on March 11, 2020.
Face masks now are optional in all UIHC facilities, including Iowa River Landing and QuickCare clinics, except for people who have symptoms of a respiratory virus or unvaccinated employees.
Face masks still will be required in places like the operating room or when patients are at risk of infection — which are pre-pandemic standards.
The decision to stop requiring masks as of March 8 reflects the decrease in COVID-19 cases and other respiratory illnesses in the community, the UI reported. Vaccination and natural immunity from prior infection also have blunted the severity of the disease for many people.
The city of Iowa City is planning to install 13 cameras throughout the Pedestrian Mall this summer, which the city says will help law enforcement by giving them access to footage when they are investigating incidents in the area.
The new cameras will capture more than is currently available and will be the first city-owned cameras in the downtown Pedestrian Mall, city staff told The Gazette. The estimated project cost is $95,000.
City officials told the Gazette the cameras were not prompted by any recent incidents in particular, but are part of a desire to have a wider range of camera coverage to help police.
Recent incidents on the Ped Mall include shots fired in 2021 and again in January this year. There have also been thefts reported, including a Christmas sleigh that was taken in November, and an inflatable rabbit that was part of an art exhibit was taken in February — both of which were ultimately returned.
Counties and cities are preparing to send out property assessments to homeowners in the coming weeks, and The Gazette wants to speak with residents who have gotten their assessment and would like to share more information. Did you experience a high increase in your home's assessed value? Are you planning to contest your assessment?
If you’re interested in speaking with a reporter, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll put you in touch with the reporters working on the stories in Linn and Johnson Counties.