Thank You Iowa Essential Workers
Iowans Continue to be Resilient
This Labor Day Iowans across the state thanked essential workers —including nurses, teachers, utility workers, factory laborers, first responders, and other front-line workers that have been risking their lives, spending long hours keeping the state healthy and safe. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their countless sacrifices.
During this difficult year, Iowans continue to be resilient, offering help to their friends, family, and neighbors. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the Derecho that ripped through the state, communities have seen people step up to support one another, whether it’s delivering meals, cleaning up trees, caring for those in our long-term care facilities and hospitals, preparing lunches for those affected by the disaster, making masks for hospitals and neighbors, or working overtime to repair electrical lines.
House Democrats are dedicated to supporting Iowa’s essential workers by expanding protections and worker compensation during a pandemic, while providing financial security for businesses and workers with COVID positive cases.
Nominate a Deserving EMS First Responder
There are so many deserving EMS providers and services right now. EMS providers dedicate themselves every day, with little or no recognition. If you know someone who has gone above and beyond, please nominate that person for this prestigious recognition. Nominate them online here, or print and mail the PDF form here by October 1.
Show You Care, Wear a Mask
With Iowa’s coronavirus cases increasing at the highest rate in the nation, the best mitigation effort to control the spread is to wear a face covering or mask in public and social distance. The White House Coronavirus Task Force has asked Governor Reynolds to take steeper mitigation efforts, the Governor has yet to take the advice from public health officials.
New Storm Recovery Relief Available to More Iowa Counties
This week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) amended the state’s Major Disaster Declaration to provide Individual Assistance funding for the following counties: Benton, Boone, Cedar, Jasper, Marshall, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Story, and Tama. Linn county was initially approved for federal Individual Assistance on August 20th.
Disaster-affected homeowners, renters, and businesses in the above counties may begin applying for assistance, including grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help recover from Derecho.
Individuals and business owners who sustained losses can begin applying for assistance by calling 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585 for TTY users. Users of 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS) may call 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. CST, seven days a week, until further notice. Another option is registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov . A copy of FEMA’s full press release/declaration can be found here: https://www.fema.gov/press-release/20200820/president-donald-j-trump-amends-iowa-declaration.
Because of federal relief eligibility, county residents are now no longer eligible for the State Individual Assistance Program and should apply under FEMA’s Individual Assistance Program. However, Disaster Case Management remains available to all impacted Iowans. For more information, please contact your local community action association or visit www.iowacommunityaction.org.
The Governor’s initial August 16th Presidential Disaster Declaration request included 27 counties for federal Individual Assistance approval. Through further FEMA and state assessment, the departments determined 16 counties did not have sufficient damage to receive this funding, including the following counties that withdrew from consideration: Audubon, Clarke, Grundy, Iowa, Jackson, Jones, Madison, Muscatine, and Washington.
New COVID Tracking System for Iowa Schools
It was announced that over 100 Iowa schools have reported cases of COVID-19, with some placing whole grades under quarantine.
Schools are stressed to maintain an education workforce and keep their populations safe. With lack of data from the Iowa Department of Education, the Iowa State Education Association has developed their own self-reporting tracking system. Although voluntary, it at least provides a look at the virus effects on schools, and a tool for parents to check.
The Department of Education has provided a link to which school districts have been denied a waiver to go to online learning and which have been granted due to COVID-19. In addition to the list, the Cedar Rapids District was allowed, for their first two-weeks, to have online learning due to Derecho.
Suicide Prevention and Mental Health During the Pandemic
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in Iowa, new and additional mental health issues and suicidal thoughts may be affecting Iowans. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations, and throughout this COVID-19 outbreak it’s required social distancing, quarantine, and some isolation. Feelings of anxiety, loneliness, and stress are completely normal. Here are a few strategies from the Iowa Department of Human Resources on ways to cope with these emotions:
- Stay calm and recognize when other people’s fears and anxieties are influencing your mental health.
- Keep up-to-date on current information to help cope with these issues.
- Unplug from social media and give yourself a break.
- Connect with others using the telephone, email, text or video conferences.
- Stick to a routine and practice self-care to maintain a sense of normalcy and manage stress.
To better understand suicide, the Iowa Department of Public Health has teamed up with the Suicide Prevention Resource Center to offer a free online course to reduce its prevalence in the state. To take the free course, please visit: https://training.sprc.org/enrol/index.php?id=35.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please visit www.YourLifeIowa.com for free and confidential help by online chat, text, or phone.
Other Iowa News
GRANTS AVAILABLE FOR CLOSED BARS & BREWERIES: Bars, taverns, breweries, wineries, and distilleries that were forced to close due to the August 27th public health proclamation are eligible for a $10,000 grant through the state. Iowa Economic Development Authority will accept applications from September 10th through September 24th. Businesses can apply at https://www.iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/Business/business-disruption.
DERECHO TREE REPLACEMENT PROGRAM: People needing to replace trees damaged or lost in the derecho can buy seedlings from the DNR State Forest Nursery. The nursery offers 40 different species of native Iowa trees and shrubs ranging in price from $0.80 to $1.00. Orders must be placed in increments of 25, with a minimum order of 25 per species. People who were not impacted by the derecho can also buy seedlings from the state nursery. To shop the nursery visit, https://www.iowadnr.gov/Conservation/Forestry/Forestry-Landowner-Assistance.
IOWA DOT NOW APPOINTMENT ONLY PERMANENTLY: Iowans needing to conduct in-person business with the Department of Transportation (DOT) will need to continue to schedule an appointment going forward. The DOT originally moved to appointment-only visits following the outbreak of COVID-19, and has received positive feedback from Iowans regarding the speed and ease of the new process. Iowans who qualify can also renew their licenses online, as well as request a six-month extension if their license expires in the next 90 days or has been expired for fewer than 60 days. The wait time for an appointment currently averages three to four weeks, although the Iowa DOT is working on adding additional appointment times. To see options available visit the Iowa DOT’s website.
NEW DEER EXCHANGE PROGRAM FOR FOOD INSECURE IOWANS: Deer hunting kicks off on September 19th with the youth and disabled seasons. Many hunters in the past have taken advantage of the HUSH program by donating harvested deer to meat lockers around the state. The lockers then donate the venison to food banks in Iowa. Due to increased demand for meat from lockers, fewer lockers are participating in the HUSH program this year. To fill the void, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has a new deer exchange program to connect deer hunters with people who want venison. Hunters can sign up for the program and upload their location to the DNR’s website. Once matched, the hunter and recipient pick a place and time to meet to do the exchange. No money can be exchanged because it is illegal to sell harvested venison in Iowa. Hunters are still required to report their harvests.