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Data: STR; Chart: Axios Visuals

Despite a devastating dip in business due to the pandemic, Des Moines hotels are starting to see small gains from events like the Feb. 2-4 Iowa Ag Expo and the State Wrestling Championships set to take place later this month.

The big picture: Bouncing back to pre-pandemic occupancy rides on the success of the vaccine rollout, Greg Edwards, CEO of the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau, told Axios.

The state of play: About half of the metro area’s 21,000 tourism and service industry jobs have been at least temporarily lost during the pandemic, Edwards said.

  • While no hotels have yet closed, Edwards thinks some of the smaller ones could be in trouble if the pandemic recovery stalls.
  • "A hotel downtown and on a normal day ... would probably have about 200 employees from housekeeping to restaurant banquet people, but my guess today is they might have 30 in there," he added.

This story first appeared in the Axios Des Moines newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

Go deeper

Men account for just 31% of Iowa's vaccinations so far

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The majority of Iowans who have received the COVID-19 vaccine are women, according to data from the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Why it matters: Overlooking any group or segment of our community in vaccine distribution could exacerbate death rates among those groups and thwart pandemic recovery for all of us.

Republican Sen. Sasse slams Nebraska GOP for "weird worship" of Trump after state party rebuke

Sen. Ben Sasse, (R-Neb.) Photo: Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images

The Nebraska Republican Party on Saturday formally "rebuked" Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) for his vote to impeach former President Trump earlier this year, though it stopped short of a formal censure, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Sasse is the latest among a slate of Republicans who have faced some sort of punishment from their state party apparatus after voting to impeach the former president. The senator responded statement Saturday, per the Omaha World-Herald, saying "most Nebraskans don't think politics should be about the weird worship of one dude."

Cuomo barraged by fellow Dems after second harassment accusation

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced a barrage of criticism from fellow Democrats after The New York Times reported that the second former aide in four days had accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Cuomo had faced a revolt from legislators for his handling of nursing-home deaths from COVID. Now, the scandal is acutely personal, with obviously grave political risk.

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