by Charlotte Eby - Managing Director of Government Affairs, LS2group
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First COVID-19 diagnoses in Iowa
Gov. Kim Reynolds activated the State Emergency Operations Center Sunday after three Iowans tested positive for coronavirus or COVID-19, the first such cases in the state. State public health officials continued to report additional Iowa cases as the week wore on. As of Thursday morning, a total of 14 Iowans had tested positive for the virus.
The people at the center of the first cases are from Johnson County and had recently been part of a cruise in Egypt. The individuals were isolated at their home to avoid transmission to others. The other diagnosis was in Pottawattamie County on the western edge of the state. State Epidemiologist Dr. Caitlin Pedati said public health officials were assessing potential exposure to additional individuals.
“These cases are an important reminder that all Iowans need to help prevent the spread of illness by washing hands frequently, staying home when ill, and covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue,” she said.
The state’s three public universities – Iowa State University, the University of Iowa, and the University of Northern Iowa – announced classes would move online for two weeks starting March 23 to help mitigate any potential spread on campus. Students were strongly encouraged to stay home during this time, although residence halls and dining services will remain open.
“We know how disappointing and disruptive this is to our students, faculty and staff,” said Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen in a statement. “This decision was made in consultation with the Board of Regents out of an abundance of caution to prioritize health and safety as the outbreak continues to spread and circumstances rapidly evolve.”
November Rural Mainstreet Index Rises to Highest Reading for 2019: Bankers Expect Holiday Sales to Grow by only 1.3% from 2018
November Survey Results at a Glance:
OMAHA, Neb. (Nov. 21, 2019) – The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) for November climbed above growth neutral for the fourth time in the past five months, according to the monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region dependent on agriculture and/or energy.
Overall: The overall index rose to 54.2 from 51.4 in October. Although still tepid, this is the highest reading for 2019. It also marked the fourth time in the past five months that the overall index rose above growth neutral.
“Federal agriculture crop support payments and somewhat higher grain prices have boosted the Rural Mainstreet Index slightly above growth neutral for the month. Given a continued weak rural economy, bank CEOs, on average, expect holiday buying to increase by only 1.3% above last year’s levels,” said Ernie Goss, PhD, Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University’s Heider College of Business.
Jeff Bonnett, president of Havana National Bank in Havana, Illinois, reported that, “The latest harvests are showing significant declines in test weights leading to the point that 2019 harvest production looks to be running below average.” Bonnett goes on to say that grain prices are still sitting at extremely low levels for such yields.
Farming and Ranching: The farmland and ranchland-price index for November increased slightly to a weak 40.4 from October’s 40.3. This is the 72nd straight month the index has remained below growth neutral 50.0.
The November farm equipment-sales index declined to 37.5 from October’s 39.7. This marks the 74th month the reading has remained below growth neutral 50.0.
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