Gazette Daily News Podcast, April 22

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during a press conference at Iowa PBS on Wednesday, April 21, 2021, in Johnston, Iowa. With 37% of Iowans fully vaccinated, Reynolds called on those unsure or skeptical to make an appointment and receive the vaccine. (Brian Powers/The Des Moines Register via AP)

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This is Stephen Schmidt from the Gazette digital news desk and I’m here with your update for Thursday, April 22.

There will be frost again throughout Eastern Iowa Thursday morning, but we’re in for a pretty nice day. According to the National Weather Service, after the frost retreats, it should be sunny with a high near 59 degrees. The wind will be mild, blowing at 5 to 10 mph. There could be a chance of some rain late Thursday night into Friday morning.

With worries that demand for COVID-19 vaccines already is slacking off as nearly half of the state’s counties have declined new doses, Gov. Kim Reynolds on Wednesday implored Iowans to overcome their hesitancy and get immunized.

Forty-three of Iowa’s 99 counties last week rejected some or all new vaccine shipments from the state because they have not yet used their previous allotments, state public health officials said. That’s up from 20 counties that declined new doses just one week before. Many of those 43 counties are clustered in the state’s northwestern region. Reynolds said vaccine hesitancy is not unique to Iowa, and appears to be most prevalent among younger people. Public polls also have shown vaccine hesitancy is more prevalent among Republicans and conservatives.

For their part, several prominent Republican leaders in Iowa have lobbied for Iowans to get vaccinated. However, like many other times during the pandemic where health policy was debated, they have actively balked against anything that would require vaccination either through work requirements or vaccine passports.

Iowa is nearing the 1,000,000 mark for completed, eclipsing 900,000 people as of this week.

Palisades-Kepler State Park, near Mount Vernon, will reopen Friday, nine months after the Aug. 10 derecho felled trees and damaged the lodge. Palisades is the final state park to open after the derecho.

Roads, hiking trails, picnic areas and fishing access points are again all usable. Visitors can start making campground reservations through the online reservation site on April 23, the same day the park opens. The lodge will be closed for the 2021 recreation season due to extensive roof damage.

The Iowa City Mosque was damaged by fire earlier this week.

Iowa City Fire Marshal Brian Greer said crews were called to the mosque, 1812 W. Benton St., at 8:18 p.m. Sunday after someone praying at the mosque smelled smoke and noticed a small fire in the attic space. Crews arrived at 8:22 p.m. and had the fire under control by 8:43 p.m., Greer said.

The fire was contained to the attic space, but firefighters had to open up some of the ceiling to attack the fire, Greer said. Damage to the building is estimated at $20,000. The fire is considered unintentional with an undetermined cause, though it is believed to be an electrical fire, Greer said.

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