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Latest local coronavirus updates: March 13 | 2:29 p.m.


Public Health and Government
The office of Gov. Kim Reynolds has scheduled a news conference on COVID-19 to take place at 4:30 p.m. today from the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston. The conference will be streamed live on Facebook.

Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie today released a statement advising Des Moines businesses, churches, event planners and organizations to consider canceling gatherings to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. “I would like to encourage residents to use good judgement when making decisions about attending large gatherings and encourage everyone to continue practicing social distancing,” Cownie said. “We hope that most city meetings will be held, however, those meetings will be held only if we feel confident we can accommodate the public while still providing optimal social distancing for everyone in attendance.” 

The Iowa Democratic Party has postponed county conventions originally scheduled for March 21. A new date is yet to be determined. At this time district and state convention planning will proceed as scheduled. A full statement by Iowa Democratic Party Chair Mark Smith is available online

Story County Treasurer Ted Rasmusson is advising Story County property owners to pay property taxes due March 31 online or through the mail by sending payments to 900 Sixth St., P.O. Box 498, Nevada, IA 50201. The county also has a drop box for payments in the parking lot of the Story County Administration Building. “We currently do not have any plans to close, but things are changing every day and we cannot guarantee our office will remain open to the public through the remainder of the property tax season,” Rasmusson said in a statement. More information is available online

Beginning today, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is limiting the number of public entrances and screening all patients and visitors entering for symptoms of the flu and COVID-19. UIHC has posted a list of accessible hospital entrances at Main Hospital, UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital and Pomerantz Family Pavilion online. Staff at entrances will guide those entering through the screening process. More information and updates are available online. Anyone with flu symptoms or health concerns is encouraged to schedule a video visit or call 319-384-9010. 

In Des Moines, MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center is restricting visitors (updates available online); Iowa Methodist Medical Center, Blank Children’s Hospital, Iowa Lutheran Hospital and Methodist West Hospital, all under UnityPoint Health, are restricting visitors and have canceled multiple events, classes and support groups (updates and a list of canceled events are available online); and Broadlawns Medical Center has announced visitor restrictions and a list of canceled events, classes and support groups (updates and a list available online).

Arts and Culture
Women Lead Change will host the 2020 ICR Iowa Conference on April 7-8 as a completely online conference, the organization announced this afternoon. Every registered attendee will receive a link via email to attend the virtual conference in April, along with a digital program that includes the full agenda. Attendees will continue to have access through the official event app Whova and can connect with attendees through it. Organizers will host registered attendees together for an event at a later date; refunds for event tickets are not available. 

Ray Center postpones All-Star Evening to June 5 
The Ray Center at Drake University announced it will postpone this year’s All-Star Evening to benefit the Robert D. and Billie Ray Center scheduled on April 17, based on guidance from organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Iowa Department of Public Health. The event has been rescheduled for June 5. “We are honored that Mary and Kirk Ferentz will join us to be recognized on this date,” the center said in a statement. “We will be reaching out directly to those who have purchased tables and are impacted by these changes.”

The Des Moines Symphony is postponing performances of “Carmina Burana,” originally scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, in an effort to reduce spread of COVID-19, the organization announced today. The concerts will be rescheduled for fall of 2020; the organization will announce on or before April 1 whether any additional concerts will be canceled. All lessons, classes and events from March 15 to 22 will be canceled by the Des Moines Symphony Academy; from March 23 to April 4, the academy will move all private lessons and group classes online. Large ensemble rehearsals, including the Youth Orchestras, Youth Wind Ensemble, Barcodes and Honors Ensembles, have been canceled through April 4. A full statement is available online.

Twenty-three Central Iowa school districts jointly announced today that they intend to resume classes as scheduled following spring break. District representatives met early today with representatives from Gov. Kim Reynold’s office and additional educational agencies in the region. “We all look to the Iowa Department of Public Health for their expertise and direction. IDPH currently believes the risk to our student and staff population is low. We also acknowledge many of our families rely on district-provided childcare and nutritional resources,” the statement said. Collaborating school districts are: ADM, Ames, Ankeny, Ballard, Bondurant-Farrar, Carlisle, Dallas Center-Grimes, the Heartland Area Education Agency, Indianola, Interstate 35, Johnston, North Polk, Norwalk, Pleasantville, Prairie City Monroe, Saydel, Southeast Polk, Urbandale, Van Meter, Waukee, West Des Moines, Winterset and Woodward-Granger.

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