116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
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This is Stephen Schmidt from the Gazette digital news desk and I’m here with your update for Friday, May 14th.
Rain is coming this weekend, but the weather will be somewhat dry and pleasant before it begins to arrive Friday night. According to the National Weather Service it should be cloudy Friday in the Cedar Rapids area with a high near 64 degrees. There will be a chance of rain that increases as the day progresses, with a 20 percent chance of showers after 4 p.m. and a 60 percent chance of precipitation Friday night into Saturday morning.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people on Thursday, allowing them to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings. It should be noted for the purpose of accuracy that a person is not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after the completion of a one-shot or two-shot vaccination regimen. Although the transition will be muddled, the thought is that this will increase the incentive for more people to complete their vaccinations.
The new guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters but it will help clear the way for reopening workplaces, schools, and other venues — even removing the need for social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated. There also will likely be confusion, as the CDC guidelines still ask that people who have not been fully vaccinated to wear a mask indoors, but it will be impossible to know who has been vaccinated or not, especially in a state like Iowa, where the legislature has made proving you have been vaccinated to enter an establishment or workplace illegal.
In other vaccination news Thursday, University of Iowa Health Care officially expanded its COVID-19 vaccination effort to add newly-approved tweens and early teens, administering first shots to the 12-15 age group at a clinic in its Iowa River Landing location. Other local vaccination providers will likely follow suit this week, following the expanded eligibility of this age group.
A video was widely shared online where a presentation for Heritage for America, a conservative think tank, boasted about writing laws in several states across the nation helping to restrict early voting, among other things. This became particularly relevant when Iowa was name dropped in the presentation as a state where this was rolled out first, to great success.
The bill’s floor manager, Rep. Bobby Kaufman, R-Wilton, said that despite the claims in the video, he had not spoken to Heritage when writing the bill at all, and he came up with the language of the bill, restricting absentee and early voting, with Republican State Sen. Roby Smith. The election reforms, that also stiffened penalties for auditors and voters violating the rules, was passed in March with entirely Republican votes.
Iowa was one of several states to restrict the windows of early and absentee voting during the 2021 legislative session, a strategy relied on heavily by Democratic candidates in recent elections.
A Cedar Rapids man is the third defendant to be convicted in the robbery and death of James Booher, who went missing May 31, 2014, after going to an Ely farmhouse to make a drug deal.
45-year-old William L. Yancey, who was set to go on trial in U.S. District Court next month, pleaded guilty Thursday to robbery affecting interstate commerce and using, carrying and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence resulting in murder.
During the plea hearing, Yancey admitted to knowingly robbing Booher of methamphetamine and money on May 31, 2014.
He also admitted to knowing a firearm was going to be used or carried during the crime, that he had advance notice of the crime and the choice to walk away. He also admitted the firearm was discharged and resulted in the fatal shooting of Booher, 51, of Marion.
The Iowa Ideas 2021 virtual conference will be here before you know it, and we would like you to be our guest on the house. The Gazette is providing free access to this two-day gathering with more than 50 sessions- filled with thought-provoking local, and national speakers-- all ready to engage you on a variety of important and timely Iowa-issues. Join us October 14th and 15th for this can’t miss, idea-exchange experience. Learn more and register for the event at iowaideas.com.