Gazette Daily News Podcast, Nov. 24

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is Stephen Schmidt from the Gazette’s Digital News Desk and I’m here with your update for Thursday 24th November.

There may be light rain on Thursday, but temperatures will remain comfortable. It will be mostly Thursday in the Cedar Rapids area with a high of nearly 52 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. Before 1 p.m. there is a 20 percent chance of rain. On Thursday night it will be partly cloudy with lows of around 29 degrees.

Ansel Briggs, Iowa’s first governor from 1846 to 1850, proclaimed Iowa’s first official Thanksgiving day in 1847, a year after Iowa became a state. Iowa Governor James W. Grimes has often been—and incorrectly—credited with declaring Iowa’s first Thanksgiving holiday in 1855.

Let’s take a quick look at the origins of Thanksgiving in Iowa thanks to the Gazette a Time Machine article, a series that I, by the way, recommend you check out on the site if you’re a history buff.

According to the article, it is widely believed that Iowa’s first territorial Thanksgiving was declared by Governor Robert Lucas, who served from 1838 to 1841. Celebration of the holiday was common in New England, and settlers who came west are said to have carried on the tradition.

But the first recorded gubernatorial proclamation of the celebration came from Iowa’s second territorial governor, John Chambers of Kentucky, who was appointed in 1841.

Chambers’ Thanksgiving Proclamation, signed at the Burlington Territory Office “at the request of many of my fellow citizens,” declared December 12, 1844, as the day of thanksgiving.

On the day Iowa became the 29th state of the Union—December 28, 1846—Ansel Briggs, who was elected the state’s first governor on December 2, delivered his inaugural address. The following November, Briggs signed his first Thanksgiving proclamation, setting Thursday, November 25, 1847, as the day of thanksgiving.

Going back to the present, COVID numbers are rising again in Iowa just in time for vacation travel.

The state added 2,302 positive virus cases this week — the highest weekly total in more than two months. Last week, the new positive case count was 1,980. The actual total is likely higher due to the availability of at-home testing kits that are not reported to the state.

Hospital admissions due to the virus rose 26 percent in the past week after falling 24 percent the week before. The number of hospital patients increased from 137 to 172. The number of intensive care patients increased from 16 to 19.

These hospitalizations are still relatively low compared to the overall history of the virus. COVID is just one of many viruses causing overcrowding in area hospitals.

In fact, hospitals in the United States are overwhelmed. The combination of a swarm of respiratory illnesses (RSV, coronavirus, flu), staff shortages and nursing home closures has left the already overburdened healthcare system in dire straits. And experts believe the problem will only get worse in the coming months.

So get vaccinated if you can, wash your hands and keep your fingers crossed.

Finally, there’s happier news: Marion Arborist Mike Cimprich has won a national award for his derecho recovery efforts.

City Arborist Mike Cimprich received an email last week announcing that he had received the Merrell Changing Nature of Work Award.

He was selected as the first recipient of the award by the National Recreation and Park Association. The award recognizes an individual or team that has responded to natural disasters with a spirit of teamwork, community and perseverance to clean up, rebuild and promote the resilience and well-being of their community.

It comes with $10,000 for a project. Cimprich told the Gazette that it would lead to replanting of trees in some way, whether it be by procuring more staff or equipment, or by actually planting trees.

Marion lost over 40 percent of its public canopy in the August 2020 derecho. Cimprich was instrumental in leading the reaction.