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Coronavirus update

Four people from the No Coast Network listening area are among 17 new deaths from coronavirus reported Wednesday (9/30).  Two people from Jasper County, one from Mahaska County and one from Marion County are among the new deaths reported.  As of Wednesday morning, the total number of deaths is at 1342.  Also, another 929 people have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the pandemic total to 88,555.  Nine new positive tests have been reported in Poweshiek County, six in Marion County, four in both Mahaska and Jasper Counties, two in Wapello County and one new COVID-19 positive test in Monroe County.

Biden, Trump press contrasts in Midwest after debate chaos

By STEVE PEOPLES, WILL WEISSERT and KEVIN FREKING

CLEVELAND (AP) — Fresh off their chaotic debate-stage clash, President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden targeted voters across the Midwest on Wednesday, hitting hard at their contrasting messages as millions of voters cast early ballots.

Biden headed out on his most aggressive day on the campaign trail all year, with eight stops planned for a train tour that began mid-morning in Cleveland and was scheduled to end Wednesday night in western Pennsylvania. Trump was to address voters and donors in Minnesota late in the day.

Both men were active on social media, too, hoping to use the turbulent debate to score political points.

“He lies to you,” Biden said of Trump at an outdoor event along https://apnews.com/hub/election-2020 side the Cleveland train station. “He’s too weak to beat the pandemic.”

While some Republicans feared that Trump’s debate performance was too aggressive, he wasted no time in attacking moderator Christ Wallace as well as Biden Wednesday morning.

“Chris had a tough night,” Trump tweeted. “Two on one was not surprising, but fun.”

The president added a darker swipe at Biden in a subsequent tweet: “He will destroy our Country!”

The first of three scheduled debates between Trump and Biden deteriorated into bitter taunts and chaos the night before as the Republican president repeatedly interrupted his Democratic rival with angry — and personal — jabs that overshadowed any substantive discussion of the crises threatening the nation.

Trump refused to condemn white supremacists who have supported him, telling one such group known as Proud Boys to “stand back, stand by.” There were also heated clashes over the president’s handling of the pandemic, the integrity of the election and how the Supreme Court will shape the future of the nation’s health care.

The two men frequently talked over each other with Trump interrupting, nearly shouting, so often that Biden eventually snapped at him, “Will you shut up, man?”

Trump’s brash posture may have appealed to his most passionate supporters, but it was unclear whether the embattled incumbent helped expand his coalition or won over any persuadable voters, particularly white, educated women and independents who have been turned off in part by the same tone and tenor the president displayed on the debate stage.

With just five weeks until Election Day and voting already underway in several key states, Biden holds a lead in national polls and in many battlegrounds. Polling has been remarkably stable for months, despite the historic crises that have battered the country this year, including the pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans and a reckoning over race and police.

Increasingly, the candidates have trained their attention on working-class voters in the Midwest, a group that helped give Trump his victory four years ago and will again play a critical role this fall.

Biden opened his day by delivering a speech alongside the rails of Cleveland’s train station. The former vice president’s campaign stenciled a map of the train journey he’s making with wife, Jill, on a board behind the lectern where he spoke.

Aboard the six-car train: only the Bidens, their campaign staff and a handful of journalists. The train features a Biden-Harris logo and a sign urging supporters to text “Train” to the campaign to show their support.

Biden spent decades commuting between his home in Delaware and Washington while serving in the Senate. He announced his 1988 campaign for president, the first of his multiple runs, at the station in Wilmington, Delaware, posing with his family off the back of the train. That won’t be possible this time since Amtrak no longer produces cabooses, the Biden campaign said.

Trump, meanwhile, was scheduled to attend an afternoon fundraiser in Shorewood, Minnesota, a suburb to the west of Minneapolis, before appearing at an evening campaign rally in Duluth on the shores of Lake Superior.

While Trump carried Ohio and Pennsylvania four years ago, he narrowly lost Minnesota, one of the few states he hopes to flip from red to blue this fall. The president’s path to success likely depends on finding more votes in rural, conservative areas and limiting his losses in the state’s urban and suburban areas.

It’s a strategy Trump’s campaign is trying to execute in other states and it depends on a robust field operation with the money and time to track down infrequent or first-time voters. That could be a tall order since Minnesota already has one of the nation’s highest voter turnout rates.

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Peoples reported from New York.

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AP’s Advance Voting guide brings you the facts about voting early, by mail or absentee from each state: https://interactives.ap.org/advance-voting-2020

Iowa relaxes quarantine guidance

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced a policy change Tuesday (9/29)to make it easier for Iowa students, teachers and business workers exposed to someone with COVID-19 to avoid a two-week quarantine, despite increasing cases across the state.

Under the new state guidance, workers and children in day cares and schools don’t have to quarantine as long as they and the infected person with whom they were in contact were consistently and correctly wearing face coverings. Only the infected person must go into isolation, while the close contacts should monitor their health.

The change breaks with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, which recommends a 14-day quarantine for anyone who is in close contact with someone who has tested positive regardless of mask use.

The Republican governor announced the relaxed guideline during a news conference where she acknowledged that rural counties in the northwest part of the state were suffering from uncontrolled community virus spread affecting all age groups.

With no public health mitigation strategies in place and old routines returning, “the virus is simply spreading from person to person during the normal course of daily activities,” Reynolds said.

Iowa, a state of about 3.2 million people, has been reporting an average of 800 to 900 new confirmed coronavirus cases per day in recent weeks, which gives it one of the nation’s highest infection rates.

The number of patients hospitalized statewide with the virus climbed Tuesday to 376, which was the highest level since late May. The increase has been driven by a surge in northwestern Iowa counties such as Osceola, Lyon and Sioux, which each have a two-week positivity rate of higher than 20%. Fifty long-term care facilities are also facing outbreaks.

A White House coronavirus task force report dated Sunday warned that Iowa’s high positivity and case rates and high number of hospitalizations put the state in a “vulnerable position going into the fall and winter.” The report noted that most of Iowa’s 99 counties have high or moderate levels of community transmission.

The report recommended a statewide mask requirement, reduced capacity for indoor dining and bars, more on-site inspections of infection control practices at prisons and nursing homes, and more testing on college campuses.

Reynolds long ago rejected issuing a statewide mask mandate and has largely refused to implement stricter public health mitigation strategies since reopening the state months ago. She said Tuesday that she was sticking to her strategy of encouraging “simple common-sense steps” such as social distancing and hand washing, saying they were the state’s best defense against the virus.

Reynolds has also ordered school districts return to at least 50% in-person instruction, over the opposition of the state teachers’ union and school leaders in cities such as Des Moines, Iowa City and Ames. The courts have backed her mandate and all districts have reopened classrooms except Des Moines, where students have been learning virtually as the school board considers an October return.

The governor said that virus activity has ticked up as schools have reopened, and that she’s heard a “common frustration” in recent weeks that too many students and teachers were being forced into quarantine.

“In some situations they are having to quarantine a disproportionately high number of students when just a few positive cases have been identified,” she said.

Reynolds and the state epidemiologist, Dr. Caitlin Pedati, said new information indicates that face coverings reduce the spread of the virus in school and business settings. They said the change in guidance was in line with similar moves in Nebraska and Wyoming, which like Iowa, have had some of the highest COVID-19 case rates in the country over the past two weeks.

The new guidance does not apply to health care or residential settings such as hospitals and nursing homes.

The governor said the change would give more flexibility to keep students in schools and had been sought by superintendents. The guidance allows people who are currently in quarantine to be released immediately as long as “a face covering was worn consistently and correctly by the positive case and close contacts during exposure.”

Reynolds called the policy change a “great incentive” to wear a mask, and she said she was encouraged by surveys showing most Iowa residents already do despite the lack of a requirement.

“We’re doing pretty good,” she said. “I’m confident with the direction that we’re going.”

Governor says Northwest Iowa Covid spike not tied to specific events, activites

BY 

RADIO IOWA –  Two “Test Iowa” locations are opening in Orange City and Sioux Center to expand Covid-19 testing capacity in the northwest corner of the state. Governor Kim Reynolds said coronavirus cases have been elevated in Sioux County for the past three weeks.

“Sioux County currently has the highest 14-day average positivity rate in the state at nearly 28%,” Reynolds said yesterday during her weekly news conference. “Neighboring Lyon and Osceola Counties are both above 20% and some other counties in the surrounding area top 15%.”

The governor said that the new Covid cases in northwest Iowa are evenly distributed across age groups rather than being primarily among young adults.

“The case investigation process tells us that increased cases in these areas…aren’t really tied to a specific event or activity,” Reynolds says. “…The virus is simply spreading from person-to-person during the course of normal daily activities.”

In Sioux County, for example, half of recent Covid cases were among adults between the ages of 41 and 80 and another 12 percent were among children under the age of 18. Reynolds said the virus seems “to move around the country” and is currently hitting the Midwest and the tri-state region of northwest Iowa and neighboring counties in Nebraska and South Dakota.

“We’re bringing in additional tests so that we can identify, so I think we’re going to see, kind of, hopefully what we saw in other areas where we see that spike,” she said, “and then, hopefully, we’ll see that come back down.”

Since August, the testing sites in Orange City and Sioux Center have been screening students and staff from Northwestern and Dordt University. Now, those sites will offer Covid tests to others who register online at www.TestIowa.com.

The number of Iowans hospitalized for treatment of Covid-19 has increased 20 percent in the past week. Dr. Caitlin Pedati, the state medical director, says the best advice for curbing community spread of the virus is what it’s been since the start of the pandemic: stay at least six feet away from others, wear a mask and wash your hands.

Former day care director sentenced for theft

The former director of a Tama County day care center has been sentenced to prison for illegally taking more than $110,000 from the center and using the money on video games, clothing and other items. The Des Moines Register reports that 49-year-old Kristine Daniel of Kellogg pleaded guilty to theft of a federal program last October, and was sentenced Monday (9/28) in federal court to four months in prison and another four months in home detention. Daniel will also be on supervised release for three years once her sentence concludes. Daniel admitted to stealing money from Tama County Day Care Inc. while serving as executive director from 2010 to 2016.

Lynnville-Sully High starts remote learning

Lynnville-Sully High School students will be learning online starting Monday (9/28).  The Iowa Department of Education has granted the Lynnville-Sully District’s request for a waiver to provide online learning because of coronavirus.  As of Friday morning (9/25), 123 Lynnville-Sully High students were in quarantine due to contact tracing or testing positive for COVID-19 or waiting for COVID-19 test results.

Trump’s tax revelation could tarnish image that fueled rise

By JILL COLVIN

WASHINGTON (AP) — The bombshell revelations that President Donald Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes the year he ran for office and paid no income taxes at all in many others threaten to undercut a pillar of his appeal among blue-collar voters and provide a new opening for his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, on the eve of the first presidential debate.

Trump has worked for decades to build an image of himself as a hugely successful businessman — even choosing “mogul” as his Secret Service code name. But The New York Times on Sunday revealed that he paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016, the year he won the presidency, and in 2017, his first year in office. He paid no income taxes whatsoever in 10 of the previous 15 years, largely because he reported losing more money than he made, according to the Times, which obtained years’ worth of tax return data that the president had long fought to keep private.

The development comes at a particularly precarious moment for Trump, whose Republican campaign is struggling to overcome criticism of the president’s handling of the pandemic. It hands Biden an easy attack line heading into Tuesday’s debate. And with early voting already happening in some states and Election Day just over a month away, Trump may be running out of time to turn his campaign around.

“Donald Trump needs this election to be about Joe Biden as a choice,” said longtime GOP consultant Alex Conant. “This keeps the focus squarely on Trump’s character and the chaos going into the most important night of the campaign, the debate.”

Of course, Trump has repeatedly faced — and survived — devastating turns that would have sunk any other politician. That includes, most notably, the stunning “Access Hollywood” tape released in October 2016, in which Trump was recorded bragging about kissing and groping women without their permission. The video’s release came just two days before Trump was set to face then-candidate Hillary Clinton in their second debate and was considered a death knell to his campaign at the time.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told “Fox & Friends” on Monday that Democrats are replaying “the same playbook they tried in 2016 — the same playbook that the American people rejected and will do so again.”

At this point in the race, with voting already underway in many states and so few voters still undecided, it is unclear whether any new discoveries about Trump would make any difference. Trump’s support over the years has remained remarkably consistent, polls over the course of his presidency have found.

Yet the tax allegations go to the very heart of Trump’s appeal, especially among the blue-collar voters in states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan who propelled him to the presidency in 2016. Trump was supported by about two-thirds of white voters without college degrees, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center, versus only about 2 in 10 nonwhite noncollege graduates.

Indeed, in a Gallup poll from February 2016, Republicans who wanted to see Trump win their party’s nomination cited his experience as a businessman as the second-most important reason they backed him, surpassed only by his status as a nonpolitician and an outsider.

Even today, when asked to explain their support for Trump, voters often point to his success in business as evidence of his acumen. And they often repeat his talking point that he gave up a great deal to serve as president, citing his sacrifice as evidence that he ran for the job not out of self-interest, but because he cares about improving the lives of people like them.

But the image of a man flying around in private jets from one luxury property to another and paying less in taxes than millions of Americans with far more modest lifestyles could prompt a backlash similar to the one 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney faced after he was secretly recorded at a closed-door fundraiser saying that the 47% of Americans who don’t pay income taxes were “dependent upon government” and would never vote for him.

″(M)y job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives,” Romney said.

Roughly half of Americans pay no federal income taxes, but the average income tax paid in 2017 was nearly $12,200, according to the IRS.

Democrats wasted no time in seizing on the news, with the Biden campaign’s online store already selling stickers saying “I paid more income taxes than Donald Trump” on Sunday night.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer tweeted an emoji calling on followers to raise their hands “if you paid more in federal income tax than President Trump.”

“That’s why he hid his tax returns. Because the whole time, he wasn’t paying taxes. But you were,” added Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.

And Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, said the new report highlights the importance of the House Democratic lawsuit against the Trump administration to access Trump’s tax returns.

“This reporting shines a stark light on the vastly different experience people with power and influence have when interacting with the Internal Revenue Service than the average American taxpayer does,” he said in a statement.

In addition to the news about Trump’s annual payments, the Times found that many of his best-known businesses, including his golf courses, reported huge losses, and that, as he faces an uphill battle for reelection, his finances are under particular stress thanks to “hundreds of millions of dollars in debt coming due that he has personally guaranteed.” Trump is also under audit over a $72.9 million tax refund that could cost him more than $100 million if the IRS rules against him, the Times revealed.

The development comes after Biden recently stepped up his efforts to paint Trump as a charlatan who has lied to his working-class supporters. In contrast, Biden has tried to highlight his own middle-class upbringing.

The election, Biden has said, is “Scranton vs. Park Avenue,” pitting Biden’s boyhood hometown in Pennsylvania against Manhattan, where Trump built his branding empire and reality television career.

“This clearly plays straight into that contrast that Biden has opened up,” said Joe Trippi, a veteran strategist of multiple Democratic presidential campaigns.

Trippi said coming into the debate, Biden now has something he can concretely point to as he tries to sway the slim margin of voters who remain undecided.

“You move a few points of working class voters, and you’re talking about Biden winning in places like Ohio,” Trippi said.

Conant, who worked on Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign, noted how defensive Trump became when Rubio, during a primary debate, charged that Trump “would be selling watches in Manhattan” had he not inherited tens of millions of dollars from his father, Fred.

Trump raised an index finger in the air, yelling, “No, no, no, no,” as he sought to interrupt Rubio and insisted that he had instead borrowed money. “That is so wrong,” he said.

“So long as this campaign is all about Trump,” Conant said, “he’s going to lose.”

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Associated Press writers Bill Barrow in Atlanta, Josh Boak in Baltimore, and Darlene Superville and Lisa Mascaro in Washington contributed to this report.

Weekend coronavirus update

Twelve people in Iowa have died over the weekend from coronavirus, including two from the No Coast Network listening area.  One person from Marion County and one from Monroe County passed away from COVID-19, as the state’s death total from the pandemic is 1315 as of Sunday (9/27).  Also, another 1796 new positive COVID-19 tests were reported Saturday (9/26) and Sunday, bringing the total from the pandemic to 86,229.  20 new coronavirus cases have been reported in Jasper County, 19 in both Wapello and Mahaska Counties, 12 new cases in Poweshiek County, nine in Marion County and two in both Monroe and Keokuk Counties.

2nd Congressional District race

BY 

The race in Iowa’s second congressional district to replace retiring Democratic Congressman Dave Loebsack is considered one of the country’s most competitive.

Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Ottumwa, an eye doctor, is making her fourth try for a seat in the U.S. House. On a recent Saturday morning, Miller-Meeks was at a Jasper County GOP fundraiser that featured a trap shooting competition. Miller-Meeks is not quite five foot tall and used a youth shotgun.

“It’s shorter. It has less of a kick,” Miller-Meeks said. “…This one’s easier for me to handle.”

Miller-Meeks told the crowd at the fundraiser that as one of eight kids, her parents scoffed at her dream of becoming a doctor.

“My rebellion was to leave home at 16, get a job, enroll in San Antonio Community College, enlist in the Army at age 18, work and go to school until I got a degree in nursing so I could work at night. Kept going to school, got a masters in education. Ultimately was able to…graduate from medical school, then I came in Iowa to do my residency,” Miller-Meeks said, to applause. “…And now I’m a state senator.”

Like other Republicans, Miller-Meeks has been actively campaigning since this spring, once businesses reopened after being closed due to the pandemic.

“I really missed being able to interact with people and just listening, being there, being attentive,” Miller-Meeks said. “…You can do that and be at a respectful distance.”

“I certainly don’t want to be in a situation where I’m regretting that we had a public event of any kind,” Hart said.Democratic candidate Rita Hart of Wheatland has mainly held online events.

On September 19, Hart began holding “backyard talks” in the district. Her first was in Ottumwa, Hart stood in the middle of a dozen people spread out in a circle. Hart, a former teacher and one-term state senator, was the Iowa Democratic Party’s 2018 nominee for lieutenant governor. She told the group in Ottumwa about growing up as one of nine kids on a dairy farm.

“I tell people I had the great advantage growing up of being raised by a strong Democratic father and strong Republican mother and that was such an advantage in my life because I learned how to stand up for what I believe in,” Hart said, “but I also learned to listen to the other side.”

Barack Obama won Iowa’s second congressional district in 2008 and 2012. Donald Trump won the district in 2016. The latest voter registration data shows there are about 26,000 more Democrats than Republicans in the second district, which covers the southeast quadrant of the state.

Osky schools COVID-19 update

There has been a confirmed case of COVID-19 at Oskaloosa Middle School and one at Oskaloosa High School.  The Oskaloosa School District has released a statement saying that contact tracing has begun and all staff and students believed to be in close contact with the people involved will be notified if they have to be quarantined.  Face to face learning will continue at both Oskaloosa Middle School and High School.

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