Latest Iowa news, sports, business and entertainment
Iowa schools faced with tough choices as virus cases rise
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — As Iowa sees coronavirus infections rise and spread to more counties, school officials are struggling with what do do for the rest of the academic year. State public health officials on Friday reported 85 additional cases to a total of 699. Gov. Kim Reynolds says schools statewide are closed through at least April 30. Des Moines Public Schools won’t return this year. Instead, the district will use an at-home program. For the next month, Iowa schools can either offer voluntary classes or required learning. Under the voluntary option, no attendance is required and no credit is given.
Mega Millions change means jackpots will be big, not massive
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Winning a Mega Millions lottery prize worth hundreds of millions of dollars was always a long shot, but soon it will be nearly impossible. The group the oversees the lottery game announced Friday it was following the lead of Powerball, the other national lottery game, and reducing its future jackpots. Blame both decisions on the new coronavirus, which has kept people at home and away from spots where they typically buy lottery tickets. People still have a shot at the current $121 million jackpot, but once there is a winner there won’t be a guaranteed minimum prize. The starting jackpots and rate of increase will be determined based on sales and interest rates.
Governor appoints lawyer with GOP ties to Iowa Supreme Court
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa’s Republican governor has appointed a West Des Moines lawyer with longtime ties to the state GOP as the newest Iowa Supreme Court justice. Gov. Kim Reynolds named Matthew McDermott on Friday to fill the vacancy left when former Justice David Wiggins, a Democratic appointee, retired last month. McDermott served as lawyer for the state in a contentious lawsuit filed by a labor union challenging a 2017 Republican-backed law that made sweeping changes to Iowa’s public employee collective bargaining statute. McDermott’s team won the lawsuit and a subsequent appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court, which ruled the law change was constitutional. McDermott was also a lawyer for the Republican Party of Iowa from 2007–2012.
Iowa Board of Medicine seeks shelter in place order
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Board of Medicine is asking Gov. Kim Reynolds to issue a shelter-in-place order to further slow the spread of the coronavirus. The board, comprised mainly of doctors, voted to send a letter to Reynolds urging her to move beyond the current restrictions she has issued and impose a public shelter order. The board executive director says the doctors believe an order from the governor would further discourage individuals from meeting in groups and going out into public. Reynolds says she wants to hear what they have to say.
UI hospital using virtual technology to treat virus patients
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics says it has successfully treated dozens of COVID-19 patients through a program that allows them to stay in their homes while they recover. Doctors use virtual technology to check daily on patients who have been diagnosed with the disease, freeing up the hospital for the small percentage of people who need more intensive care. So far, 35 patients in the program have recovered while only three have needed to be admitted to the hospital. Theresa Brennan, the hospital’s chief medical officer, say Friday that another 38 are still being monitored.Brennan says she hopes other hospitals follow suit, potentially preventing them from being overwhelmed with patients.
Key Iowa banks won’t issue stimulus loans without more info
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Two of the largest banks in Iowa say they aren’t ready to take applications for the $349 billion small business aid program that began Friday. MidwestOne Bank and Bankers Trust announced late Thursday that they still do not have enough information from the Small Business Administration to proceed. Both indicated they would begin processing applications as soon as they had the answers to key questions. A MidwestOne vice president told customers that banks “do not yet have critical program details” and warned that submitting inaccurate or incorrect applications would delay their aid. Des Moines-based Bankers Trust says it’s disappointed in the lack of guidance and delay.
Latest Illinois news, sports, business and entertainment
McCormick Place re-christened as COVID-19 field hospital
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Friday re-christened Chicago’s McCormick Place Convention Center as a field hospital for COVID-19 cases and publicly hoped it wouldn’t be needed.The two leaders saw the first 500 of what will be a 3,000-bed “alternative care facility” to relieve pressure on city hospitals treating COVID-19. But Pritzker hopes his statewide stay-at-home order and other mitigation strategies will render the McCormick backup needless.Pritzker also recommended for the first time that people wear face coverings when venturing outside, reporting his decision shortly before the federal government announced a new, similar recommendation, which remains optional.
Chicago’s new top cop guided by Dallas tenure, son’s death
CHICAGO (AP) — The 59-year-old selected to become Chicago’s new police chief has said his son’s death ten years ago only deepened his commitment to law enforcement. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot this week announced David Brown Sr.’s selection to be Chicago’s top cop. On Father’s Day in 2010, his son, David Brown Jr., shot dead a stranger and an officer during an apparent mental breakdown. Police then killed him. His father, then Dallas police chief, wrote in his autobiography that when he got the news his “entire body pulsated with pain.” Brown says he returned to work with more empathy and a greater devotion to his job.
Urbana teacher and coach charged with child pornography
URBANA, Ill. (AP) — A teacher who also coaches cross country at an Urbana high school has been arrested on child pornography charges. Doug Mynatt appeared in federal court by video and remains in custody. He works at University of Illinois Laboratory High School, also known as Uni High. Investigators say Mynatt admitted receiving and distributing images of young girls, and thousands were found on his phone. Uni High’s website says Mynatt teaches sports, fitness, and strength training and coaches the track and cross country teams.
Illinois bans activities at state parks amid virus outbreak
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois has barred all activities at state parks, fish and wildlife areas, recreational areas and historic sites in another move to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Illinois Department of Natural Resources director Colleen Callahan noted in a statement that hunters and anglers aren’t allowed to receive refunds on state-issued permits or transfer of permits due to administrative guidelines under the state wildlife code. The Journal-Star reported Thursday that with proper authorization from the state, people can hunt and fish on privately-owned open properties. The state’s spring trout-fishing season begins on Saturday.
Union gains COVID-19 pay for nurses at Chicago hospital
CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago hospital and its nurses union have agreed on hazard pay for nurses working during the COVID-19 pandemic. The University of Illinois Hospital and the Illinois Nurses Association announced the agreement Friday. The extra pay ranges from $5 an hour to $15 an hour for registered nurses and from $3.50 an hour to $9 an hour for licensed practical nurses, depending on assignment. Nurses on salary also get increases. The agreement will remain in place until either the Illinois stay-at-home order is lifted or the hospital suspends its internal emergency operations.
Chicago-area priest is next bishop in southern Illinois
BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) — Pope Francis has picked a Chicago-area priest as the next bishop of the Catholic Diocese in southern Illinois. The Rev. Michael McGovern follows Bishop Edward Braxton, who is retiring as leader of the 28-county Belleville Diocese. McGovern lately has been the pastor at St. Raphael the Archangel in Old Mill Creek in Lake County, a rural community near the Wisconsin border. McGovern has had other parish assignments as well as leadership roles in the Chicago Archdiocese.
Suburban Chicago boy, 4, dies after being shot in head
THORNTON, Ill. (AP) — Police say a 4-year-old suburban Chicago boy has died from an apparent accidental gunshot wound to his head. Thornton police say the child was pronounced dead Thursday night at a hospital in south suburban Harvey. The Cook County medical examiner’s office identified the him as Amir Jennings-Green. Thornton Police Chief Glenn Beckman says the boy was playing in a basement with his cousins when a gun discharged inside the room. He says no adults were present. Beckman says investigators believed the shooting was accidental. An Illinois Department of Children and Family Services spokesman says the agency is investigating the death.
Battery distribution site to close in Dixon; 125 jobs lost
DIXON, Ill. (AP) — Energizer Holdings is closing a battery distribution site in northwestern Illinois, laying off 125 employees. SaukValley.com says layoffs will begin in May at the Rayovac packaging and distribution center in Dixon. A notice was filed with the state. The center has been open since 2003 and ships about 11 million cases of batteries each year.
Man charged in slaying of pregnant teen who spoke at trial
CHICAGO (AP) — Prosecutors say a young man told friends that he was paid $5,000 for killing a pregnant Chicago teenager who was a key witness in a murder trial. Kavarian Rogers was charged in the death of 18-year-old Treja Kelley. She was killed in September, a few months after testifying in a trial about her cousin’s death. Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy called it an execution. Prosecutors say Rogers posted Facebook videos showing off expensive shoes and fanning himself with $100 bills. A judge ordered Rogers to jail without bond over the objections of his lawyer.
DePaul cites coronavirus, drops plan for tuition increase
CHICAGO (AP) — DePaul University has dropped plans for tuition increases next fall to ease the burden on families during the coronavirus outbreak. President A. Gabriel Esteban says even a modest increase could disrupt a student’s education. The economy is suffering during the pandemic as employers cut jobs. DePaul has more than 22,000 students. Tuition for undergraduates is roughly $40,000 a year before financial aid.
Latest Wisconsin news, sports, business and entertainment
Wisconsin limps toward Tuesday election despite virus fears
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin is lurching toward a spring primary election on Tuesday despite widespread concern about in-person voting during the coronavirus crisis. A day after a federal judge declined to postpone the election, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers called a special session and asked majority Republicans to shift to an all-mail affair. Republicans say the state should hold to the date. The federal judge has extended the window for absentees by nearly a week. But in-person voting is still planned despite a shortage of poll workers so severe that many municipalities say they won’t be able to staff polling places.
Perez promises as ‘robust a convention as possible’ for DNC
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez says the party’s convention in Milwaukee will be as robust as possible, despite a five-week delay due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. Perez wouldn’t say in an interview Friday with The Associated Press what specific changes may be in store for the meeting delayed a month from July to August. He says, “We’re going to try and put on as robust a convention as possible in as safe a manner as possible.” Perez says he was determined to keep the convention in Milwaukee.
Teenager allegedly threatened with jail over COVID-19 posts
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A 16-year-old Wisconsin high school sophomore who had symptoms of the coronavirus and posted about it on social media was ordered by a sheriff’s deputy to delete the posts and threatened with being taken to jail. That’s according to her attorney who on Friday asked the Westfield School District administrator and Marquette County sheriff for an apology. They did not immediately return messages seeking comment. The girl also wants to be able to post her messages again without fear of being arrested. Tests showed she did not have COVID-19.
Court hopefuls push through coronavirus to Election Day
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin voters are about to choose the next state Supreme Court justice. Incumbent conservative Justice Dan Kelly and liberal challenger Jill Karofsky will square off in Tuesday’s spring election despite the coronavirus crisis. A host of states have postponed their spring elections to protect voters and poll workers from the virus but Gov. Tony Evers and Republican lawmakers have decided to keep Wisconsin’s contest on track. Kelly and Karofsky have made major changes to their tactics in the face of social distancing, canceling in-person appearances and turning to television and social media to get their messages out.
Suspect in deaths of Wisconsin doctor, husband known to them
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Police say the 18-year-old man arrested in the slayings of a University of Wisconsin physician and her husband is known to the family. University of Wisconsin Police Chief Kristen Roman said in a statement Friday that Khari Sanford has been booked into the Dane County Jail on two counts of party to the crime of first-degree intentional homicide. Roman didn’t say what Sanford’s relationship is to the family or how the couple was killed. The bodies of 52-year-old Dr. Beth Potter and 57-year-old Robin Carre were found Tuesday in the university’s arboretum. The medical examiner’s office says they died of “homicidal violence.”
Fleeing homicide suspect causes fatal crash in Milwaukee
MILWAUKEE (AP) — A homicide suspect who was fleeing police in Milwaukee Friday morning ran a red light and caused a crash that left one person dead and another in critical condition, police said. WITI-TV reports the crash happened about 9:30 a.m. while federal marshals were pursuing an individual who was wanted on a warrant out of Minot, North Dakota. A 20-year-old woman died and a 23-year-old man was hurt. Dan Orr, Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal for North Dakota, identified the suspect as 27-year-old Donald Lee Cooper, Jr. KFYR-TV reports that Cooper was wanted on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder for the January death of 29-year-old Dominick Stephens in Minot.
First Biden, now Sanders, endorse 2 school referendums
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — First Joe Biden, and now Bernie Sanders, is endorsing a pair of Wisconsin school district referendum votes that are on Tuesday’s ballot. Biden, the former vice president and Democratic presidential front-runner, announced on Tuesday that he was in support of the referendums in Milwaukee and Racine. Sanders, a senator from Vermont, added his backing on Thursday. The Milwaukee referendum would cost taxpayers $87 million while the one in Racine comes with a $1 billion price tag. They are among more than 40 districts across the state seeking more than $1.6 billion in referendums in Tuesday’s election.
Coronavirus outbreak could affect UW’s fall semester
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — University of Wisconsin President Ray Cross says the coronavirus outbreak that’s already led to the suspension of all in-person spring classes could also force changes to the fall semester that’s scheduled to begin in August. Cross told the university’s Board of Regents on Thursday that UW was working on various scenarios based on rapidly changing conditions. The flagship UW-Madison campus announced Thursday that it was moving all in-person summer classes scheduled to start in May to online only. Cross says plans for the fall will be made in coming weeks based on an array of ever-changing assumptions.