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Is the Iowa State Fair still being held? Your Call the Courier questions answered

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Q: Is the Iowa State Fair still going to be held? My doctor told me it is high risk right now, and I can’t believe they would still have it.

A: The Iowa State Fair is being held as scheduled Aug. 12-22 at the fairgrounds in Des Moines. See a related story on page A8.

Q: How many U.S. people have died from COVID since President Biden has been president?

A: When Biden took office on Jan. 20, 392,000 Americans had died of COVID-19, and as of Aug. 10, there had been a total of 617,000 U.S. deaths, so 225,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 on Biden’s watch.

Q: How are members of the Olympic Softball Team chosen?

A: During the selection trials in Oklahoma City, 29 athletes participated in position drills as well as simulated games and were evaluated by the USA Softball Women’s National Team Selection Committee in accordance with the athlete selection procedures approved by the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee. From that pool, 15 Olympians and three replacement players were selected.

Q: Is Medicare going to be the main insurance company for illegal immigrants?

A: According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, undocumented immigrants are not eligible to enroll in Medicare, Medicaid, or CHIP or to purchase coverage through the ACA Marketplaces. Under rules issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, individuals with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status also are not considered lawfully present and remain ineligible for these coverage options.

Q: Are Aquafina bottles recyclable?

A: While most plastic bottles are “recyclable,” few are actually recycled. About seven of 10 plastic water bottles get incinerated, dumped into landfills or left as litter. Most plastic water bottles are made of polyethylene terephthalate, which could be recycled and made into new bottles, but usually isn’t. The fraction of PET that is recycled ends up being “downcycled” into clothes, carpet, toys, and packaging materials.

Q: Did the cancellation of jobless benefits increase the amount of people entering the workforce?

A: According to a late July story by CNBC, an analysis by Arindrajit Dube, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, found Census Bureau data suggests recipients didn’t rush to find jobs in the weeks following the first batch of state withdrawals. Specifically, the share of adults receiving unemployment benefits fell sharply (by 2.2 percentage points) in the dozen states that cut federal funding on June 12 (like Iowa) or June 19. That translates to a 60% reduction in unemployment rolls in those states. But there wasn’t a corresponding increase in employment among this group — in fact, the share of adults with a job fell by 1.4 percentage points over the same period, according to Dube. (Employment rose by 0.2 percentage points in states that didn’t end the pandemic benefits.) Together, the data shows there wasn’t an immediate job boost following the cuts, Dube said. However, more time and information are needed to analyze the longer-term effects of state policies, he said.

Calls are taken on a special Courier phone line at 234-3566. Questions are answered by Courier staff and staff at the Waterloo Public Library.

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