CORONAVIRUS

COVID-19 in Iowa, live updates for March 16: More closings for casinos, schools and theaters

Buses wait to depart from the newly-reopened Ground Transportation Center on Monday, Dec. 2, 2013, in Cedar Rapids. Bus
Buses wait to depart from the newly-reopened Ground Transportation Center on Monday, Dec. 2, 2013, in Cedar Rapids. Bus service returned to the GTC on Monday, after years of operating from a lot on First Street SE in New Bohemia. (The Gazette-KCRG)

5:52 P.m. Riverside Casino to close

From the Riverside Casino Facebook page:

“Out of the upmost concern for the safety of our guests and staff we are instituting a temporary public closure beginning today at 5pm, Monday, March 16th, with an estimated reopening on March 31st. While there have not been any cases of coronavirus reported in association with our facility we are electing to close in an abundance of caution. We are working to reschedule promotions, concerts and events and will make announcements as we secure dates. Please check back regularly for updates.”

4:50 p.m. Theatre Cedar Rapids, Coralville Library Closed to public

From Theatre Cedar Rapids:

“In accordance with CDC recommendations, we are closing the theatre until May 15, and launching new plans for the remainder of our 2019-2020 season.”

More here.

From the Coralville Public Library:

“Due to the current Covid-19 outbreak, the Coralville Public Library will be closed beginning Tuesday, March 17th through Sunday, April 12th and plans to reopen on Monday, April 13th. During this time, library staff will be available via phone (319-248-1850) and email (reference@coralville.org) during the following hours: Monday-Friday 10:00 am – 7:00 pm

Saturday 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Sunday Noon – 4:00 pm”

4:38 p.m. Schools likely will not have to reschedule days lost to COVID-19 closure

A release from the Iowa government:

“The Senate and House have agreed to waive the requirement for Iowa schools to reschedule days canceled following Governor Reynolds’ recommendation, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. On Sunday, March 15, 2020, Governor Reynolds recommended Iowa schools cancel classes for four weeks. Any classes previously scheduled from March 16, 2020 to April 12, 2020 will not be required to be rescheduled. Legislation will advance today to implement this agreement.”

4:23 Cedar Rapids announces city buildings closure

From the City of Cedar Rapids: “In an effort to limit public interactions and gatherings, several City of Cedar Rapids facilities will be closed to the general public effective immediately.”

This includes:

• City Hall (101 1st St SE)

• City Services Center (500 15th Avenue SW)

• Cedar Rapids Water Administration (1111 Shaver Road NE)

• Central Fire Station (713 1st Ave SE)

• Animal Care and Control (900 76th Ave Dr SW)

• Cedar Rapids Police Station (505 1st St SW)

3:20 P.M. National Czech Museum announces temporary closure

From the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library:

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“The health and safety of our National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library community — staff, volunteers, members, and guests — is our top priority. With that consideration in mind, the NCSML will be temporarily closing to the public effective March 17, 2020, for one month, reopening on April 17, 2020.”

3:15 p.m. Think Iowa City Closes Offices To Public

The Iowa City/Coralville Convention and Visitors Bureau, otherwise known as Think Iowa City, will close their offices to the public until at least April 3, according to a message to the bureau’s partners.

The message from Think Iowa City board chair Mark Ruggeberg also states that organization events and non-essential committee meetings will be canceled through April 17. Business travel is suspended through May, Ruggerberg said.

3:08 P.M. Coralville closes city facilities

The City of Coralville is closing the Coralville Recreation Center, Coralville Public Library and Coralville Center for Performing Arts, the city announced Monday.

The closure will last until at least April 12, the city said. During that time recreational programming will be suspended.

Other city operations will continue and City Hall remains open during regular business hours. Residents are encouraged to conduct city business or via mail, when possible. City council and planning and zoning meetings are expected to continue as scheduled and can be viewed live online. Additionally, city parks, the Brown Deer Golf Course, trails and transit remain open.

2:56 p.m. City of Cedar Rapids Requests Closure of Bars and Restaurants on St. Patrick’s Day

If you want to enjoy your Guiness and corned beef, the City of Cedar Rapids is asking that you do it at home.

From a press release:

The City of Cedar Rapids is requesting all Cedar Rapids bars and restaurants close for St. Patrick’s Day to discourage citizens from congregating in large crowds. Based on health advice related to the spread of COVID-19, City officials believe allowing normal St. Patrick’s Day activity will cause a public safety hazard.

Restaurants and bars are also asked to significantly limit patron activity starting Monday March 16 as part of an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Restaurants and bars should adhere to the following guidelines:

• No more than 25 people may be present at the same time

• Bar seating is suspended

• Standing patrons should not be served

• Individual tables may not seat more than six people

• Occupied tables and booths must be separated by at least six feet

• Waiting patrons should not congregate in lobby/waiting areas or outside entrances

• Encourage carry out and delivery food orders

The City of Cedar Rapids is requesting all Cedar Rapids bars and restaurants close for St. Patrick’s Day to discourage citizens from congregating in large crowds. Based on health advice related to the spread of COVID-19, City officials believe allowing normal St. Patrick’s Day activity will cause a public safety...

2:34 p.m. Cedar Rapids Hospitals further limit hospital visitors

Starting at 7 a.m. Tuesday, both Cedar Rapids hospitals will implement new policies to further restrict hospital visitors.

“All routine visiting at the hospitals will be suspended until the transmission of COVID-19 is no longer a threat to our patients, staff and community,” Mercy Medical Center and UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Hospital announced Monday in a joint statement.

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A visitor will only be allowed if they do not have symptoms of a respiratory infection, which include a fever, cough and shortness of breath.

Children under the age of 16 are not allowed at this time, except under extraordinary circumstances.

Patients with pending or positive COVID-19 tests are not allowed visitors.

Visitors who are allowed must stay in the patient’s room for the entire time of the visit. Once they leave the patient’s room, they must leave the hospital.

Exceptions include:

• Obstetric patients may have one partner and one birth support person accompany them.

• Nursery and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) patients may have one birth parent plus one significant other who must remain in the room for the duration of the visit.

• St. Luke’s patients who are at the end-of-life may have two visitors.

• Mercy patients at end-of-life may have visitors assessed on a case-by-case basis.

• Patients with disruptive behavior, where a family member is key to their care, may have one visitor.

• Patients who have altered mental status or developmental delays (where caregiver provides safety) may have one visitor.

• Minors under the age of 18 may have one visitor, parents, or guardians.

• Patients undergoing surgery or procedures may have one visitor who must leave the hospital as soon as possible after the procedure/surgery.

• Patients who have an appointment at a Mercy or St. Luke’s hospital-based clinic, laboratory, or radiology, as well as those visiting the Emergency Room (ER), may have one person with them.

In addition, all birth care tours and classes are postponed until further notice, with the exception of St. Luke’s C-section class.

1:36 p.m. Programming suspended at the Cedar Rapids/Marion Area YMCAs

From a Facebook post: “In light of the recent recommendations from the Iowa Department of Public Health and the CDC designed to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, all branches of the YMCA of the Cedar Rapids Metropolitan Area are implementing various measures that include suspending all programming until further notice which includes: group fitness classes, personal training, massage therapy, adult & youth sports, swim lessons, private swim lessons, child watch and more. For more details, please visit our website at: crmetroymca.org/covid-19-preparations-2/

12:20 p.m. Joni Ernst field hearing on child care is postponed

Emailed: “Due to ongoing matters related to COVID-19 in Iowa, Senator Ernst is postponing her field hearing in the Cedar Rapids area this Friday for a later date.”

11:40 a.m. The History Center closed to public March 17

The History Center will be closed to the public from Tuesday, March 17 until Tuesday, April 14.

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The Douglas Mansion will be closed to visitors and all scheduled events during this period — including the March 24 Walking Tour — are postponed.

The History Center’s annual fundraiser, Famous Last Words: A Celebrity Roast, which was scheduled to take place on Saturday, March 28, 2020, has been postponed.

Ticket(s) purchased for the fundraiser will automatically be applied to the rescheduled event. If a ticketholder cannot attend the rescheduled date, the value of the ticket(s) can be converted to a tax deductible donation to The History Center. In special circumstances, tickets may be refunded, and those seeking this should contact The History Center.

— From a news release

10:58 a.m. NORTH LIBERTY CLOSES COMMUNITY CENTER

The City of North Liberty announced it would close the Community Center, 520 W. Cherry St., until April 12. The closure includes the North Liberty Library.

According to the city, all programs and events at the community center are canceled. The Spring Break Camp will remain in place for March 16-20, the city said.

10:25 a.m. IHSAA, IGHSAU mandate 4-week suspension of Iowa high school sports

Following Sunday’s announcement by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds — in which she recommended that Iowa schools close for four weeks — the state’s governing bodies for high school sports jointly prohibited all spring activities for the same four-week period.

This closure date could mean a return of high school activities as early as April 13.

Monday’s news calls for “no in-person contact between coaches/administrators and student-athletes for the duration of the period,” according to a release sent jointly by the state’s high school Unified Activities partners — the Iowa High School Athletic Association, the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union, the Iowa High School Music Association and the Iowa High School Speech Association.

10:12 a.m. ACT reschedules April national test date to June

From a news release: “ACT has rescheduled the April 4, 2020 national ACT test date to June 13, 2020 in response to concerns regarding the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

“ACT will communicate directly with all students currently registered for the April 4, 2020 ACT test. All students registered for the April 4 test date will receive an email from ACT in the next few days informing them of the postponement and instructions for next steps.”

9:52 a.m. Wickiup Hill Learning Center closed until further notice

From a Facebook post: “For the health and safety of the community, Linn County Conservation has CLOSED the Wickiup Hill Learning Center to the public until further notice to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Cat Week activities have been canceled. Check back for future updates and thank you for understanding.”

8:48 a.m. Cedar Rapids bus service continues, not collecting fares

The City of Cedar Rapids Transit is continuing service as of Monday, March 16. To limit interactions, fares won’t be collected.

The city is asking passengers to limit capacity on each bus to encourage distancing and to keep a minimum distance of 6 feet between themselves on the buses and at bus stops.

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Standing on buses will not be allowed and no congregating at the Ground Transportation Center is allowed.

According to the news release, hand sanitizer will be available on every bus, and buses are being sanitized regularly.

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We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.