COVID-19 Help Still Available to Iowans
Assistance for Homeowners, Renters, Small Businesses, Students
As we reach the end of 2020, it’s been nine months since we first learned COVID-19 had reached Iowa. We continue to see a record number of cases and deaths throughout the state. It’s important that we stay focused on the state’s efforts to recover from COVID-19 and ease the uncertainty Iowans face today. There are numerous programs available to Iowans who are still struggling to make ends meet, including those below.
Home Energy & Utility Assistance
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) began accepting applications for qualifying low-income Iowa homeowners and renters. The LIHEAP program pays a portion of primary heating costs for the winter heating season. Assistance is based on household income, size, fuel type, and housing. Applications are accepted until April 30, 2021 by local community action agencies. To find your local community action agency, call 2-1-1 or visit: https://humanrights.iowa.gov/dcaa/where-apply.
Small Business Help
Many Iowa small businesses have experienced losses due to COVID-19. The Iowa Economic Development Authority has a website set up for small business owners. The website is updated with both state and federal resources. Business owners are encouraged to visit iowabusinessrecovery.com for COVID-19 related programs and information.
Relief Available to Student Loan Borrowers
Thousands of Iowa borrowers remain unsure their loans are eligible for payment suspension and interest waiver during the pandemic. Social enterprise ‘Summer’ is available to assist Iowa’s student loan borrowers with free COVID-19 relief. The student loan advisory service provides borrowers with guidance to save and simplify repayments. Their technology and student loan experts assist borrowers with finding, comparing, and enrolling in loan assistance and forgiveness programs. This program will help Iowans navigate complex repayment processes, ensure borrowers won’t miss important payments, and are properly enrolled in assistance programs. Iowa borrowers may access Summer’s digital platform free of charge to receive customized loan savings recommendations at meetsummer.org/IA/.
Evictions Paused for Many Renters until 2021
Following an order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, landlords will not be able to evict specific covered persons from residential property through December 31, 2020. If you have any questions or problems related to evictions, contact Iowa Legal Aid for free legal advice at: iowalegalaid.org.
Job Seeker Resources
IowaWORKS & Iowa Workforce Development has launched a mobile app that allows Iowans to search for jobs on the go. The new app will help job seekers update their resumes, search for jobs, and communicate with IowaWORKS staff. Iowans can download the app at no cost to them through Google Play or the Apple App Store. Learn more about the app at: iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/new-iowaworks-mobile-app-helps-job-seek.
Food Assistance Options
As the economy continues to struggle, we know that COVID-19 is a financial strain for many families. Find a food dispensary at: https://www.foodbankiowa.org/gethelp. If you are able to donate, please visit: foodbankiowa.org.
Other Iowa COVID-19 Resources
CURRENT COVID-19 INFORMATION: For the latest updates from the Iowa Governor’s office on COVID-19: https://coronavirus.iowa.gov
GET TESTED FOR COVID-19: Iowa is now offering drive through testing for those who qualify after taking an online assessment at www.testiowa.com, https://www.doineedacovid19test.com/, https://www.walgreens.com/findcare/covid19/testing, or contact their primary doctor.
COVID-19 PUBLIC HOTLINE: For Iowans with questions about COVID-19, a public hotline is open 24/7 by calling 2-1-1 or 1-800-244-7431 (Español disponible)
CRISIS TEXT LINE: To access the Crisis Text Line, text “TALK” to 741741
SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE: Call 1-800-273-8255
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE: Call 1-800-799-7233 or text “LOVEIS” to 22522
VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES: http://volunteeriowa.galaxydigital.com
COVID-19 Vaccination Update
Once the COVID-19 pandemic made its way to Iowa, the consequences have been felt across the state. Between job loss, overloaded healthcare facilities, Iowans dying and becoming sick, the virus has negatively impacted every Iowan.
However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Three different national companies have created vaccines that were shown to be highly effective in the late stages of trials. One company, Pfizer, has asked the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) for an emergency use authorization for its vaccine. The FDA will meet on December 10 to review Pfizer’s application. If approved, people could begin receiving the vaccine in mid-December with widespread distribution in April.
The companies will work with both federal and state officials on distribution of the vaccine to the population. For more detailed information on vaccine distribution, please visit the Center for Disease Control’s guidebook at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/imz-managers/downloads/COVID-19-Vaccination-Program-Interim_Playbook.pdf.
Support Iowa Small Businesses
Many have been impacted by the pandemic in some way, but especially Iowa’s small businesses. Small Businesses have had to close or shorten their hours; lay off staff; scale back their products and services; or have lost customers.
Small businesses are now taking a cautious approach to reopening in an effort to protect the health and safety of their customers and employees.
The Iowa Economic Development Authority has launched Shop Iowa, a website aimed at giving small retailers an online profile. Customers can go to shopiowa.com/ to buy products from businesses all over the state. Products can be purchased directly from the website and more information for each store is available. Businesses who would like products sold on Shop Iowa can visit, https://www.shopiowa.com/sell/.
2020 CDC Holiday Safety Guidelines
This year, the holidays will be different than in the past years due to COVID-19. The CDC has provided safety guidance before gathering for holiday celebrations. Precautions include wearing masks, washing hands, social distancing, and getting a flu shot. The CDC recommends taking these additional steps if you are attending a gathering:
- Bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups, and utensils.
- Wear a mask, and safely store your mask while eating and drinking.
- Avoid going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen.
- Use single-use options, like salad dressing and condiment packets, and disposable items like food containers, plates, and utensils.
As COVID cases continue to increase rapidly across the state, gatherings with family and friends who do not live under the same household can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID. The CDC recommends the safest way to celebrate the holidays is either virtually or with members of your own household to keep your friends, families, and communities healthy and safe.
For more information on CDC guidelines and holiday gathering recommendations, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery.
Other Iowa News
TRAVEL IOWA – HOLIDAY LIGHTS: Holiday light displays across Iowa are a perfect way to get into the holiday spirit and continue to be safe! Find a location near you or take a road trip to see some holiday lights: https://bit.ly/3fTmBem
FALL TROUT STOCKING: Every fall, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) stocks trout in several urban lakes across the state. During the months of October and November, the DNR released 1,000 to 2,000 rainbow trout in selected lakes to bring fishing to urban parts of the state. Due to COVID-19, dates and times of the stocking were not announced but the DNR has stocked 18 urban lakes with trout across the state. In order to fish for trout, a valid fishing license and a trout fee are needed and there is a daily catch limit of five trout per licensed angler. Children 15 and under do not need a fishing license but their daily catch limit is one trout and they must be accompanied by an adult who has paid the trout fee. Kids can purchase a trout fee in order to catch a full daily limit of five. For more information visit: iowadnr.gov/Fishing/Trout-Fishing.
CAREER ACADEMY INCENTIVE FUND OPEN: Applications are being accepted through Dec. 31 for the Career Academy Incentive Fund. The fund provides targeted grants to support partnerships between school districts, community colleges, business and industry to expand Career and Technical Education (CTE) in some of Iowa’s most in-demand fields. Annually, the Department of Education will award up to $1 million for these projects. The Career Academy Incentive Fund was established in 2019 as part of HF 546. It also extended the statewide penny sales tax for K-12 school infrastructure, called Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE), through January 2051. Earlier this year, North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City won a $1 million competitive grant through the fund to help expand student access to career academy programs at a new regional center in Forest City. Through the academies, students gain high demand job skills offered through CTE programs while earning high school and college credit. Applications and supporting documentation must be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more about the grant at: https://educateiowa.gov/adult-career-and-community-college/career-and-technical-education/career-academy-incentive-fund?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery.