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Local 5 - weareiowa.com | Des Moines Local News & Weather | Des Moines, Iowa

COVID-19 live updates: Researchers warned Gov. Reynolds to not relax limits; Iowa Catholic churches continue suspension of mass

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Monday that 77 of Iowa's 99 counties can reopen—including malls, restaurants and spiritual gatherings—starting May 1.

With elective surgeries and farmers' markets set to resume Monday in Iowa, Local 5 is compiling the latest information surrounding COVID-19 in the state.

"This is our first step of many to reopening Iowa and getting life and business back to normal as soon as possible," Gov. Kim Reynolds said Friday.

Reynolds' new public health proclamation also allows elective surgeries to resume if hospitals and health care providers have adequate PPE supplies.

Text FACTS to 515-457-1026 for the latest coronavirus coverage.

As of Tuesday morning, 6,376 Iowans have tested positive for COVID-19 with 39,823 negative tests and 136 deaths statewide.

Tuesday, April 28

Researchers warned Iowa governor not to relax virus limits

University of Iowa experts advised Gov. Kim Reynolds last week not to relax social distancing rules, warning that the state could suffer a “catastrophic loss of life” even with them and see a second wave of infections. 

In a research paper made public Tuesday, the professors from the UI College of Public Health said they saw “considerable uncertainty” in how many deaths Iowa could get, ranging deaths from 150 to thousands even with strict social distancing rules. 

Days after receiving that warning, the Republican governor signed orders to partially reopen 77 of the state’s 99 largest counties and allow church services and farmers markets to resume statewide. 

Reporting by The Associated Press/Ryan J. Foley 

Iowa Catholic bishops continue suspension of public masses

The four Catholic bishops of Iowa decided to continue the suspension of public masses. This comes just a day after Gov. Reynolds lifted restrictions on religious and spiritual assemblies.

A joint statement from the bishops said they chose to continue the suspension to mitigate the spread.

"Without an effective vaccine or widespread testing and contact data that justifies a change in course, we simply are not at a place where we can resume our previous prayer practices," it said.

Read the full statement below:

Nursing home testing site opens in Muscatine

The Iowa Department of Public Health, Iowa Department of Human Services and Iowa National Guard have opened a temporary testing site for Muscatine and Louisa counties.

While it is not a TestIowa site, the location is for nursing home staff that work in facilities in the two counties.

Tests are by appointment only are will be conducted Wednesday and Thursday.

LOCATION: 600 Kindler Ave, Muscatine, IA

President Trump to sign Executive Order to keep meat processing plants open

With the capacity of meatpacking plants significantly down the past several weeks due to outbreaks of COVID-19 at several locations, President Donald Trump is stepping in to help secure the nation's food supply.

On Tuesday, the president is expected to sign an Executive Order to keep meat processing plants open under the Defense Production Act. A Trump administration official says the White House is looking at providing guidance for those most at risk of COVID-19 complications.

RELATED: President Trump to sign Executive Order to keep meat processing plants open under Defense Production Act

Downtown Farmers' Market announces virtual Market Meet-ups

In place of the previously scheduled outdoor market, this Saturday the Downtown Farmers' Market will host an hour-long virtual Market Meet-up beginning at 8 a.m. 

The virtual market will include details on how to purchase vendor items, cooking demos and recipes, as well as live musicians and entertainment. 

It will take place on the Downtown Farmers' Market Facebook page. The Saturday Morning Virtual Market Meet-Up is scheduled for the next three Saturdays: May 2, May 9 and May 16.

Reynolds announces launch of second TestIowa site

WATCH: Gov. Kim Reynolds' full press conference for April 28, 2020

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced during her press conference that Crossroads Mall in Waterloo will be the second TestIowa site. The site will be ready on Wednesday for Iowans to get tested for COVID-19.

Essential workers, those with symptoms, and anyone exposed to either a person with the virus or an area with a large amount of cases will be tested first, Reynolds said.

Reynolds stressed Iowans to visit testiowa.com to see if they should be tested.

508 more positive cases, 9 more deaths, 7 long-term care facility outbreaks reported

Another nine Iowans died from COVID-19 complications, according to the IDPH's website; the statewide total is now 136.

According to IDPH the additional 9 deaths were reported in the following counties:

  • Black Hawk County, 1 elderly adult (81+) 
  • Linn County, 2 older adults (61-80 years) 
  • Muscatine County, 1 elderly adult (81+) 
  • Polk County, 3 elderly adults (81+), 1 older adult (61-80 years)  
  • Story County, 1 elderly adult (81+)  

Another 508 Iowans tested positive for the virus. Total confirmed cases in the state is 6,376. A total of 39,823 Iowans have tested negative for the virus.

2,164 have recovered from the virus, leaving the recovery rate at 33%.

 Additionally, seven more long-term care facilities are the center of outbreaks:

  • Granger Nursing and Rehabilitation Center (Dallas County)
  • Dubuque Specialty Care (Dubuque County)
  • Parks Centre (Jasper County)
  • Accura Healthcare of Newton - West (Jasper County)
  • Iowa Veterans Home (Marshall County)
  • Fleur Heights Center for Wellness & Rehab (Polk County)
  • University Park Nursing and Rehabilitation (Polk County)

The "LTC Dashboard" in the map below shows that these facilities are in counties that will remain under mitigation regulations until at least May 15. It also shows that a total of 23 long-term care facilities have outbreaks in the state.

Wright County officials release details on Prestage Foods of Iowa processing plant

Test results from 867 employees from Prestage Foods of Iowa came back to officials in Wright County on April 22, according to a release from Wright County Emergency Management.

A total of 25 employees tested positive for COVID-19. All of these cases were asymptomatic, meaning they didn't show any signs of the virus at the time of testing.

The release said the cases were spread out among five different counties, with 18 of them coming from Black Hawk County. Wright County officials have requested more tests, and the state has agreed to provide them.

Starting this week, every employee at the processing plant will be provided with tests. Wright County will also provide tests for medical workers and first responders. 

Woodbury County sees dramatic increase in cases

In just 10 days, Woodbury County's case count has gone from 35 to 703. That's according to information from the Siouxland District Health Department's Facebook page.  

Tuesday brought in 97 additional positive cases for the county. 110 of the 703 confirmed cases are considered to be recovered.

Ames Park & Recreation hosts food drive 

You can help Ames Park & Recreation in supporting a local food bank today at a public wellness food drive. 

The drive will kick off at 11:30 a.m. at the First Christian Church Parking lot. Donations can include non-perishable items, canned goods, and/or monetary donations. Drop donations off in the parking lot of the church. 

Monday, April 27

Iowa's Ride canceled due to COVID-19 uncertainty

Iowa's Ride has canceled their inaugural ride due to the coronavirus pandemic. Iowa's Ride announced the decision to cancel the ride, which would have taken place between July 12 and July 18, 2020, on their website on Monday night. TJ Juskiewicz, the director of the group, said that they made the decision with the safety of participants and staff in mind after consulting with involved parties. 

Riders can request a refund of 75% of their registration fees until May 15.

For more information, click here.

Cindy Axne calls for stimulus check resources for individuals without internet

Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa has issued a letter to the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service asking for increased connectivity when it comes to the recent COVID-19 stimulus checks.

"I ask the IRS to create a dedicated phone line for Americans to provide the basic information required to receive direct deposit," Axne wrote. "Without the ability to do this, my constituents will be unable to get their payment for months or may have the payment sent to the wrong person."

An online portal has been set up for those with internet access to track their stimulus money.

RELATED: More than 88 million stimulus payments have already been distributed, IRS says

Hy-Vee employees now required to wear masks on the job, will receive additional 10 percent bonus

Effective Monday, all Hy-Vee employees will be required to wear a mask or other facial covering inside the store at all times, the company announced Monday.

Hy-Vee says masks have bee provided for their employees over the course of the last few weeks, but made wearing one mandatory starting Monday.

As a token of gratitude, Hy-Vee also announced they would be granting another front line employee appreciation bonus for all part-time and full-time employees.  This will add 10 percent to the wages they earn from working between April 13 and May 3.

Iowa Workforce Development provides additional guidance for unemployment benefits

Iowans who are laid off temporarily due to COVID-19 but refuse to return to work after being recalled will lose their unemployment benefits, according to Iowa Workforce Development. 

Certain circumstances are excluded: 

  • If you have tested positive for COVID-19 and are experiencing symptoms; 
  • If you have recovered but it caused medical complications rendering you unable to perform essential job duties
  • If a member of your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • If you are providing care for a member of your household who was diagnosed with COVID-19
  • If you do not have childcare due to COVID-19 reasons; or 
  • If you do not have transportation to your place of work because of COVID-19

IWD says not showing up and still collecting unemployment benefits will be considered a "voluntary quit".

"The additional unemployment benefits that are provided under the CARES Act are meant to be temporary in nature and bridge the gap between the outbreak and a return to normal,”  IWD Director Director Beth Townsend said in a statement. “For Iowans whose employment may be permanently affected by the outbreak, we have many training opportunities under Future Ready Iowa to help them obtain training and begin a new career in a high-demand, high-paying job."

RELATED: Rep. Cindy Axne weighs in on CARES Act

DART fixed route operator tests positive for COVID-19

The Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (or DART) was notified Monday that a fixed route operator has tested positive for the coronavirus.  

The operator hasn't worked since Wed. April 22, as they started experiencing symptoms the day after.  DART says the operator will receive full pay as they're quarantining at home for the next 14 days.

This is the second DART employee to test positive for the virus, as a maintenance worker tested positive last week.  DART will continue their preventative measures until further notice.  For a complete list of the measures being taken, visit their website.

Legislative session extended until mid-May

Iowa legislative leaders say they will not resume this year’s legislative session until after May 15. 

The Iowa Legislative Council will meet by telephone this week to vote on the continued suspension of the session. The date and time for the meeting wasn’t immediately set. The council makes rules when the legislative body isn’t in session. 

It voted on April 9 to continue the initial suspension passed in March due to increasing coronavirus cases. 

Reporting by The Associated Press

First resident at a state-run resource center tests positive

One resident at the Woodward Resource Center in central Iowa tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Iowa Department of Human Services.

DHS said this is the first resident to test positive at any of it's six facilities. No staff members at WRC have tested positive.

Five employees at other facilities have tested positive.

Dallas County confirms outbreak at long-term care facility

The Pearl Valley Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Dallas County identified 12 cases of COVID-19 on Monday.

An outbreak occurs when three or more residents at one facility test positive, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health. Residents and their families have been notified, according to the Dallas County Health Department.

Affected residents are currently in isolation. As of Monday, Dallas County has 179 total cases of COVID-19.

77 Iowa counties can soon reopen with certain restrictions

WATCH: Gov. Reynolds' full press conference (April 27, 2020)

Gov. Reynolds announced Monday that 77 of Iowa's 99 counties can reopen—including malls, restaurants and spiritual gatherings—starting May 1. 

Restrictions for such changes include operating at 50% capacity for restaurants and malls, and social distancing for religious gatherings.

Polk County is not included in the May 1 reopening. They are part of the 22 counties highlighted below whose closures were extended to May 15.

Credit: WOI
22 Iowa counties will ease coronavirus-related restrictions starting Friday, May 15

RELATED: 77 Iowa counties to reopen Friday with restrictions; closures extended for other 22

IDPH: 9 more Iowans die, 349 more test positive

Nine more Iowans are dead from COVID-19 complications, according to an update to the Iowa Department of Public Health's website. The total number of deaths in the state is 127.

According to IDPH the additional 9 deaths were reported in the following counties:

  • Black
  •  Hawk County, 2 older adults (61-80 years) 
  • Bremer
  •  County, 1 elderly adult (81+) 
  • Dubuque
  •  County, 1 older adult (61-80 years) 
  • Polk
  •  County, 3 elderly adults (81+) 
  • Poweshiek
  •  County, 1 elderly adult (81+) 
  • Washington
  •  County,  1 elderly adult (81+) 

Another 349 Iowans tested positive for the virus, reaching the total of 5,868. The IDPH says 2,021 people have recovered. The recovery rate is now 34%. 

Virus is expected to reduce meat selection and raise prices

Meat isn’t going to disappear from supermarkets because of outbreaks of the coronavirus among workers at U.S. slaughterhouses. 

But as the meat plants struggle to remain open, consumers could face less selection and slightly higher prices. Industry leaders acknowledge that the U.S. food chain has rarely been so stressed and that no one is sure about the future, even as they try to dispel concerns about shortages. 

On Sunday, the meat processing giant Tyson Foods ran a full-page advertisement in the New York Times and other newspapers outlining the difficulty of producing meat while keeping more than 100,000 workers safe and shutting some plants.

Reporting by The Associated Press/David Pitt

RELATED: Plummeting prices, barns half-empty: Pork industry reaches crisis mode

Food pantry opening at Des Moines Boys & Girls Club

Starting Monday, the Gregory & Suzie Glazer Burt Boys & Girls Club in Des Moines will begin its food pantry operations in partnership with the Food Bank of Iowa.

The pantry will be open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

RELATED: Food Bank of Iowa receives major donation to keep helping during COVID-19

Iowa attorney general accuses Orange City man of price gouging on eBay

An online seller from Iowa is accused of "charging excessive prices" on more than 250 products such as toilet paper and disinfectants.

Michael Evan Noteboom is named in a lawsuit filed by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller. He allegedly used the account name 'mn65' on ebay, and is subject to penalties up to $40,000 under the Iowa Consumer Act.

RELATED: eBay seller accused of price gouging items such as toilet paper and disinfectants

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends frequent hand washing, avoiding close contact and staying home if you are sick as main areas of focus for prevention and containment of COVID-19

RELATED: Central Iowa Kidney Walk goes on, but with a different spin

WATCH: Complete coronavirus coverage from Local 5 on YouTube