Iowa

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a new public health disaster proclamation Friday that will ease previous public health regulations geared to controlling the coronavirus.

While it's only 2021, a major question facing Democrats this year and next will be what to do about the presidential nominating calendar and whether Iowa, in particular, should retain its prized place at the front of the calendar in 2024.

LUKE RUNYON / HARVEST PUBLIC MEDIA

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to choose Tom Vilsack as the new U.S. secretary of agriculture.

Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, previously served in the position for eight years during the Obama administration. He’s the longest-serving person in the position since Orville Freeman left in 1969.

Rob Larew, president of the National Farmers Union, likes Vilsack’s years of experience.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Meatpacking facilities have been hard hit by the pandemic. That includes Tyson Foods' largest pork plant in Iowa. The facility was temporarily shut down in April because of an outbreak. And by the time it reopened the following month, a thousand workers had reportedly tested positive. Turns out now, according to a lawsuit, managers took bets on how many workers would get infected even as they took measures to protect themselves. Clark Kauffman of the Iowa Capital Dispatch first reported this story, and he joins us now. Good morning, Clark.

As hospitals in Iowa fill up with COVID-19 patients amid a major surge in cases in recent weeks, Gov. Kim Reynolds, who once dismissed coronavirus restrictions as "feel-good" measures, has abruptly reversed course, issuing the state's first mask mandate.

When it comes to the presidency and the U.S. Senate, Democrats are largely playing offense. That's true further down the ballot, too, for the offices where many of the policies that affect our daily lives are made: state legislatures.

Updated on Oct. 30 at 9:32 p.m.

This story was co-reported by Iowa Public Radio News, the Center for Public Integrity and NPR.

The New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Waterloo. The senior high school in Fort Dodge. The Masonic Temple in Council Bluffs.

Republicans hold the Senate 53-47. (There are two independents — Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont — but they caucus with Democrats and therefore should be counted that way in the math for Senate control.)

To flip the Senate, Democrats would need to net-gain four seats outright or three seats and control of the White House, because in a 50-50 Senate — which is possible this year — the vice president breaks the tie. Republicans can lose up to three seats and hold the majority, as long as President Trump wins reelection.

The powerful derecho that swept through the Midwest in August, focusing its destruction on central Iowa, is officially the most costly thunderstorm event in recorded U.S. history.

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It has been a rough couple of weeks for President Trump.

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