Coronavirus (COVID-19): What Iowans Need to Know
FAQs: What Iowans Need to Know about the Coronavirus
What is the coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a type of virus and there are many different kinds, and some cause disease. A newly identified type has caused a recent outbreak of respiratory illness now called COVID-19 that started in China.
How is it spread? What is community spread?
Recent information indicates COVID-19 may be passed from person to person. Community spread is being seen, which means people have been infected with the virus in a particular area, including some people who are not sure how or where they became infected. COVID-19 has been detected in people in over 100 other countries, including over 50,000 cases in the United States.
What precautions should I take to stop the spread of the coronavirus?
Here are the simple steps to stop the spread of COVID-19
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If this is not available, use hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your elbow.
- Stay at home as much as possible. This is especially important for people with underlying health conditions and those over 65 years old.
- Regularly clean frequently used objects or surfaces.·Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
What are the symptoms of the coronavirus?
- Runny nose
- Shortness of Breath
Should I go to my doctor’s office if I get sick?
If you are feeling sick, make sure you call your doctor’s office before going in. Tell them your symptoms, and they will give you directions.
How can I get tested for the coronavirus?
To get tested, call your primary doctor. Currently, a doctor does not have to get approval from the State Hygienic Lab to test a patient for COVID-19, if they meet the CDC criteria found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/hcp/clinical-criteria.html
FAQs: Coronavirus Insurance Coverage
How do I find out if my insurance will cover testing and treatment related to COVID-19?
Four of the major health insurance carriers in Iowa have all committed to waive cost-sharing and copayments for testing of COVID-19. Self-funded plans may differ in coverage. The Iowa Farm Bureau Health Plan has also agreed to waive cost sharing related to testing.
Will Medicare cover testing and treatment?
Medicare and the Medicare Advantage Plan covers the lab tests for COVID-19 with no out-of-pocket costs when the test is ordered by your doctor or other health care providers. Medicare also covers all medically necessary hospitalizations. This includes if you’re diagnosed with COVID-19 and might otherwise have been discharged from the hospital after an inpatient stay, but you need to stay in the hospital under quarantine.Medicare also covers “virtual check-ins” (also known as telemedicine), so you can connect with your doctor by phone, or video, or an online patient portal to see if you need to go in for a face-to-face visit. The Division encourages consumers to utilize telemedicine to seek treatment.To stay informed about Medicare coverage and coronavirus, along with tips to keep yourself safe, visit http://medicare.gov.
FAQs: Unemployment Benefits
If I lost my job due to the coronavirus, how can I get help?
Iowans displaced from work because of COVID-19 may be eligible for unemployment benefits after changes were made to help those affected by the outbreak. If you are laid off due to COVID-19 or have to stay home to self-isolate, care for family members, or due to illness related to COVID-19, you can apply for unemployment benefits.
Normal work search requirements under unemployment insurance are waived for those affected. If displaced you will not be required to try and interview or find work while the outbreak is ongoing. If an individual does find work, they will still receive benefits if it pays less than their previous employment. In those cases, Iowa Workforce Development will subtract the money you’ve earned from your expected benefit amount and send you the remaining benefit.Those eligible will receive their first check in 7-10 days. To apply visit: https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/file-claim-unemployment-insurance-benefits
What if I’m self-employed, how can I get help?
In order for self-employed Iowans to collect unemployment, Disaster Unemployment Assistance must be implemented. These provisions are currently in the legislation before the United States Senate. Once approved, self-employed individuals will be able to file for unemployment through Iowa Workforce Development.
FAQs: Iowa Schools
Will schools have to make up the canceled days due to coronavirus?
In SF 2408 passed on Monday March 16, the legislature gave the Governor the ability to waive school date requirements if the days missed were due to COVID-19, which she has now done.
How long are schools expected to stay closed?
Schools across the state are expected to stay closed through April 12 to help slow the spread of the virus. School districts are encouraged to continue to pay school employees during the shutdown.
FAQs: Child Care
Where can I find child care during this crisis?
A website has been set up for Iowans looking for child care during this time. Please visit this link to find available child care spots across the state:https://iowa.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/cabe69b5e2494259ab6c820c249e0f19. For additional child care guidance, please visit: https://dhs.iowa.gov/childcare-covid-19
Are child care providers being asked to take special precautions?
Yes, the health and safety of children, family and childcare providers is of the utmost importance. The Department of Public Health and the Dept. of Human Services (DHS) recommends social distancing for all ages, as such DHS encourages parents who are working from home to keep their children home with them. DHS also encourages child care settings to limit rooms to 10 individuals per room when possible, increase space between children, increase sanitation practices and provide robust hygiene protocols, and prescreen children and staff before entering the building. For more guidance for child care providers visit https://dhs.iowa.gov/childcare-covid-19?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery.
FAQs: Small Business
What resources are available since my business closed due to coronavirus?
There are loans for small businesses and nonprofits available through the Small Business Administration. The application can be found at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/ For information about the loans visit, https://www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance/coronavirus-covid-19
The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) also has grants available for small businesses with 2-25 employees who are experiencing a loss in business due to the coronavirus. The application is on their website, www.iowabusinessrecovery.com. Small businesses, of any size, can apply for a sales tax deferment on the same application, www.iowabusinessrecovery.com
Do I still have to pay my employees if my business is closed?
Businesses that are able to continue to pay staff should do so, and if the business is requiring employees to work from home, the employee must be paid. If a business cannot afford to pay employees then the employees can file for unemployment (see above).
FAQs: Restaurants, Bars, & Breweries
Why were all bars, restaurants, and other businesses closed?
The CDC is currently recommending no group gatherings larger than 10 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Since restaurants are closed to the public, can they still provide meals by drive-up, carry-out, or delivery?
Yes, as of right now restaurants can continue have carry-out, drive-through, or delivery of food. The Governor also eased restrictions on alcohol delivery and pick up, that allows for bars and restaurants to deliver and offer curbside pickup for alcohol.
Can my local brewery still sell beer by carry-out or delivery?
If a native brewer has a retail permit to operate a taproom, as a retailer it can deliver any beer sold in the original sealed container to a customer. A growler could be considered an original container if it is filled at the manufacturing location. However, beer that is poured into a growler at a taproom cannot be delivered because it is not in the original packaging.
What if I can’t pay for my utilities because of coronavirus?
The Iowa Utilities Board issued an emergency order directing all electric and natural gas utilities to cease residential service disconnection because of nonpayment until May 1st. The link to the emergency order and press release can be found here: https://iub.iowa.gov/press-release/2020-03-13/iub-emergency-order-extends-utility-winter-moratorium
What if I can’t pay my mortgage or rent because of coronavirus?
All evictions and foreclosure have been suspended through April 16. Mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration or Fannie Mae and Freddie Mae are under a 60-day foreclosure suspension. Contact your lender to see if it applies to your mortgage.
FAQs: Federal Relief
What is the federal government doing to provide relief to those impacted by Coronavirus?
The federal government is working on a variety of measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to declaring a Presidential Disaster Declaration for Iowa, federal lawmakers have approved two bills to address the crisis. One bill provided supplemental assistance to key public health agencies and another provided free testing and expanded paid sick leave for 87 million workers. More information on that bill is available here. Another bill is currently being considered by Congress that would provide assistance to citizens, businesses, and health care workers. If passed this would be the largest relief effort in United States history.
FAQs: Volunteering Opportunities
I am healthy and would like to volunteer to help other Iowans. What social distancing volunteer opportunities are available?
Volunteer Iowa has launched a COVID-19 Response Initiative to help connect healthy individuals with urgent volunteer needs in their communities. The website will also serve as a portal for organizations to post their volunteer needs. Volunteer opportunities can be found and posted on Volunteer Iowa’s Get Connected site at http://volunteeriowa.galaxydigital.com/. Individuals can also help by donating to their local food bank, delivering meals, supporting nonprofits in their community, and donating blood.