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News 8.27.20: College Student Infections, Iowa Case Surge, Absentee Ballot Legal Update and More


Iowa has set a new record for confirmed coronavirus cases with more than 1,500 cases.  That’s hundreds more than the previous high set in April.

During a 24-hour period, there were also 18 more deaths.  The current total is 1,081.

Gov. Kim Reynolds today issued a public health proclamation to close all bars in six counties, citing a coronavirus case spike.  However, restaurants in Blackhawk, Polk, Linn, Johnson, Story, and Dallas counties can remain open, but they must stop selling alcohol after 10 each night, effective 5:00 p.m. today.  The governor is also cracking down on house

“And that includes the requirement that Iowans hosting social gatherings of more than 10 people must ensure that those attending maintain six feet of social distancing.”

Reynolds said positive test rates among young adults age 19 to 24 have risen sharply in Johnson and Story counties, home of the University of Iowa and Iowa State.  Young adults accounted for nearly three-fourths of the positive cases in those counties 

The order will remain in effect until September 20.  The governor is also strongly encouraging mask-wearing, but says she is not mandating the practice that she says is “unenforceable.”

The University of South Dakota in Vermillion is now tracking 133 students and employees with the coronavirus.  There are almost 500 now in quarantine.  That’s 200 more than yesterday. 

All six higher education institutions in South Dakota are posting updates on their website as part of the South Dakota Board of Regents’ effort to keep the public updated on the number of cases on campuses. The information is based on self-reported cases.

Morningside College plans to launch an online dashboard early next week after three students tested positive for COVID-19.  This move comes after Morningside Student Health alerted administration of three positive COVID-19 test results late yesterday afternoon.  The college says all positive cases and students exposed to the virus are following quarantine and isolation procedures.  Also, the college is in the process of establishing on-campus testing in the next few week.

Last week, Briar Cliff reported one student tested positive for the disease.  There are no new infections reported.

Two sororities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are under quarantine after five coronavirus cases were reported at each house during the first week of classes. Classes began in person at the university on Monday.

Nebraska reported almost 400 new cases on Wednesday for a state total of more than 32,700.

A group of Nebraska football players filed a lawsuit asking a jury to force the Big Ten Conference to reinstate a fall football season. The lawsuit filed in Lincoln contends, among other things, the players lost opportunities for development in football and will lose exposure for possible professional football opportunities and won’t be able to market themselves in order to eventually capitalize on name, image and likeness revenue opportunities. The Big Ten had no immediate comment.

A Woodbury County judge will hold a hearing at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow that pits President Donald Trump and the national Republican Party against Woodbury County Auditor Pat Gill.  The Republican party is suing Gill for his choice to pre-populate absentee ballot request forms.

Associated Press
District Court Judge Judge Thornhill presides during a hearing in Linn County District Court in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. Thornhill said Thursday he will rule soon on a request from President Donald Trump's reelection campaign to invalidate 50,000 requests for absentee ballots submitted by voters in Iowa's second-largest county.

Meanwhile, a judge is ordering an Iowa county to invalidate 50,000 requests for absentee ballots, agreeing with President Trump’s campaign that the county elections commissioner overstepped by pre-filling them with voters’ personal information. Judge Ian Thornhill issued a temporary injunction that orders Linn County Auditor Joel Miller to contact those voters in writing to inform them that the forms should not have been pre-filled with their information and cannot be processed. Instead, voters will have to either fill out new blank requests for absentee ballots or vote in-person on Election Day. At issue was Miller’s decision to send absentee ballot request forms to about 140,000 county voters in July that were pre-filled with their personal information.

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