An Update on COVID-19 in Iowa
Cases Continue to Rise, Take Precautions
Iowa continues to see rapidly increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases now reaching over 90,000 infected. Iowa also continues to be on the White House Coronavirus Task Force’s watch list. The task force has urged Iowans to continue social distancing and wearing face coverings when in public.
Updated COVID-19 Nursing Home Guidance Announced
New guidance was announced by the Iowa Department of Public Health regarding long-term care visitation that conforms to federal guidelines. These new guidelines allow barbers and beauticians into these facilities, and gives families greater access to their loved ones. Separation from family and friends can take an emotional and physical toll on residents, and this new guidance prevents a facility from restricting a visitation without a reasonable clinical or safety cause. The new guidance can be found here.
New COVID-19 Exposure Guidance in Schools
Last week the Iowa Department of Education (DE) also released updated guidance regarding quarantine protocols in schools. Contrary to the Center for Disease Control, the new guidance states that both students and teachers who were exposed to a positive case of COVID-19 will no longer have to quarantine if both parties were properly wearing a mask. Those who are exposed will still need to self-monitor for symptoms.
For more information regarding the new school quarantine guidelines visit here.
Vote Early, Ballots Hit Mail Boxes this Week
Iowans who already requested to vote from home should receive their ballot this week. Voters are encouraged to mail them back as soon as possible. In order for a ballot to be counted, the affidavit must be signed and put in the mail the day before the election.
For those who have not requested a ballot, they can still do so up until 10 days before the election (OCT. 24) by 5:00 pm. A voter can download the form to request a ballot here.
To track the status of your ballot or to see if you’ve requested a ballot go to: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/absenteeballotstatus/absentee/search
In person voting can also be done early at the local county auditor’s office. Voters will need to bring proper identification if they want to vote in person.
“Logan’s Law” Sees Rise in Organ Donors
Last year the Legislature passed Logan’s Law, which adds organ, eye, and tissue donor tags to hunting and fishing licenses and adds organ donation education to the hunter safety course in Iowa. The law was implemented one year ago and since then over 2,900 people have signed up to be a donor through their hunting and fishing licenses. When purchasing a hunting or fishing license, anyone can sign up to be a donor. People can also sign up on the Iowa Donor Registry’s website, iowadonornetwork.org.
Logan’s Law was written in memory of Logan Luft, a 15-year-old from Charles City who was killed in an ATV accident over the 4th of July holiday in 2017. Before Logan passed away he decided to be an organ donor. Because of that decision five people received his organs. In 2019 Logan’s Law passed the Legislature unanimously and was signed into law.
Evictions Paused for Many Renters Until Next Year
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. Iowans impacted by loss of income due to COVID-19 include any tenant or resident of a residential property that provides to the landlord a declaration that:
- The renter is using best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing.
- The renter expects to earn no more than $99,000 in Calendar Year 2020 or the person received an Economic Impact Payment stimulus check or had no reported income in 2019.
- The renter is unable to pay the full rent because of loss of income.
- The renter is making the best effort to timely make partial rent payments.
- The eviction would leave the renter homeless or force the individual to move into close quarters in a congregate or shared living setting because the individual has no other available housing options.
The CDC indicated that this order was because of the historic threat to public health associated with COVID-19. The CDC believes eviction moratoriums can be an effective public health measure to prevent the spread of the disease.
Low-Income Energy Assistance Available to Eligible Iowans
This week, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) began accepting applications for households with a member aged at least 60 years or older; disabled; or is facing imminent disconnection. All others may apply beginning November 1, 2020 through April 30, 2021.
LIHEAP helps qualifying low-income Iowa homeowners and renters pay a portion of their primary heating costs for the winter heating season. Assistance is based on household income, size, fuel type, and housing and applications are accepted by local community action agencies.
To find your local community action agency, call 2-1-1 or visit: humanrights.iowa.gov/dcaa/where-apply.
Households applying for LIHEAP will also be considered for the Weatherization Assistance Program. Weatherization is a federal grant program that helps reduce heating and cooling costs for low income individuals by improving their home energy efficiency. This program also improves the health and safety of low-income homes.
Other Iowa News
DNR AWARDS GRANTS FOR FOOD STORAGE TO FOOD BANKS: Over $200,000 of grants to 35 organizations that provide food for food insecure Iowans around the state was awarded by the Department of Natural Resources. The funding was used to purchase Energy Star certified refrigerators and freezers, as well as storage to expand storage of food at these facilities. The grants greatly expanded the capacity to take perishable items, lie fresh fruit, vegetables, dairy, and meat at some locations. Additional information on each grant award can be found at iowadnr.gov/faba. Questions on the Food Storage Capacity Grant can be directed to Tom Anderson at the Iowa DNR at email@example.com.
GRANTS AVAILABLE FOR RURAL FIRE DEPARTMENTS: The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is accepting applications from rural fire departments for grants to help battle wildfires. Grants provide 50% reimbursement for wildland fire equipment with a maximum reimbursement of $3,500 per department. The grant deadline is October 15 and is available online at iowadnr.gov/fire.
COMPUTER SCIENCE INCENTIVE FUND: After Senate File 274 was signed into law in 2017, it established the Computer Science Professional Development Incentive Fund (CSPDIF) . It provides professional development for Iowa teachers in the area of computer science education, and to help build a workforce of computer science teachers. The 2020-21 CSPDIF application will open in IowaGrants on Oct. 12. A school district or accredited nonpublic school may apply to the Department of Education to receive money from the fund to provide tuition reimbursement for Iowa teachers seeking endorsements or authorizations. For questions, contact Wren Hoffman at 515-981-3306 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
DO YOU HAVE UNCLAIMED MONEY? Every year, there are millions of dollars turned into the State Treasurer’s office as lost or abandoned property. This property comes in the form of safe deposit box items, dormant financial accounts, unclaimed utility refunds, uncashed checks, and stock certificates and dividends. Known as the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt, the State Treasurer’s office assets to find the missing owners through mailings, publications, and listings. There is no time limit to file a claim, and there is no fee assessed once the property or money has been returned the owner. To see if you have unclaimed property or money visit: https://greatiowatreasurehunt.gov.