May 14, 2020

Greetings to you all,Hopefully you and your family are staying healthy during these difficult times we are facing. I heard yesterday that the Legislature plans to reconvene on Wednesday, June 3 at 9 am. The Legislature suspended the session on March 16 dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and to protect the health and safety of legislators, staff, and the public. Hopefully we can work together for what’s best for the people of Iowa.

On good a note May is still National Bike Month. With the current crisis we are facing getting out on your bike can help you to deal with the stress and anxiety you may be facing. I have been out riding and it’s great to see families out together riding and enjoying the outdoors.

The Iowa DOT is still working by appointment only at 50% capacity at the DOT driver’s service centers and have moved many services online, email or phone. Some services such as in person driving tests are not available at this time, but should be soon. If you need driver’s license services, go to https://iowadot.gov/mvd/driverslicense/service-selector

In the weeks ahead, I’ll be listening and working closely with local leaders, to make sure the state is partnering with those in our community who need help and assistance. I’ll be sharing information that I hear from you with the Governor and encouraging her to act on your ideas.

I’ll also be working with my colleagues, on issues that must be addressed in this crisis.While I will not be at the Capitol for the next month, I will be in the district full-time and available by email, phone, and social media, to answer questions and listen to your concerns. You can always reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!


New COVID-19 Updates in Iowa

Guide to Protecting Yourself and Others

While COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Iowa, Governor Reynolds began to loosen some public health measures again this week. Some businesses may now begin to reopen, even in counties with high cases of the virus.

What is Open in Iowa?

Below is the updated list of what is open and still remains closed:

Businesses that are allowed to re-open statewide on May 15, 2020:

  • Restaurants
    • Limits customers to 50% capacity
    • Groups of no more than 6 people
    • Tables must be at least 6 feet apart
    • No self-service food or beverages
    • Must make reasonable efforts to maintain social distance and increase hygiene practices
  • Fitness Centers
    • Limits customers to 50% capacity
    • Equipment must be spaced 6 feet apart
    • Group classes must be limited to no more than 10 people
    • Must make reasonable efforts to maintain social distance and increase hygiene practices
  • Malls
    • Limits customers to 50% capacity
    • All common seating, including food courts, need to remain closed
    • Play areas must remain closed
    • Must make reasonable efforts to maintain social distance and increase hygiene practices
  • Other Retail Stores
    • Limits customers to 50% capacity
    • Must make reasonable efforts to maintain social distance and increase hygiene practices
  • Salons & Barber shops
    • Limits customers to 50% capacity
    • Appointment only so people do not congregate in the waiting area
    • All customers must be 6 feet apart
    • Must make reasonable efforts to maintain social distance and increase hygiene practices
  • Medical Spas
    • Must make reasonable efforts to maintain social distance and increase hygiene practices
  • Tanning Facilities
    • Must make reasonable efforts to maintain social distance and increase hygiene practices
  • Massage Therapy Establishments
    • Must make reasonable efforts to maintain social distance and increase hygiene practices
  • Tattoos Establishments
    • Must make reasonable efforts to maintain social distance and increase hygiene practices
  • Campgrounds
    • Must make reasonable efforts to maintain social distance and increase hygiene practices
  • Race Tracks
    • Spectators are not allowed
  • Libraries
    • Limited to 50% capacity
    • Ensure social distancing with customers and employees
  • Drive in Theaters
    • Must ensure all cars are parked 6 feet apart
    • Ensure social distancing with customers and employees
  • Social and Fraternal Clubs
    • Make reasonable efforts to protect the vulnerable population
    • Limited to 50% capacity
    • Limit party size to 6 or less
    • Ensure 6 feet of space between parties
    • No self-service of food or drinks allowed

The following will remain closed until May 28, 2020.

  • Bars
  • Theaters – includes both live and motion pictures
  • Casino and gaming facilities- exceptions for race tracks that conduct pari-mutuel wagering and do not allow spectators
  • Senior citizens and adult daycare facilities
  • Amusements-includes bingo halls, bowling alleys, pool halls, arcades, and amusement parks
  • Museums, aquariums, and zoos
  • Skating Rinks and skate parks – indoor and outdoor roller- and ice-skating rinks.
  • Playgrounds – Indoor and outdoor, includes children play centers. Does not include a private residence or child care facility
  • Swimming Pools- includes spas, swimming pools, wading pools, water slides, wave pools, spray pads, and bathhouses
  • Door-to-Door Sales

Mass Gatherings– All mass gatherings with 10 or more people are still to be prohibited until May 28, 2020, with the following exceptions:

  • Spiritual and religious gatherings. A place of worship must take the proper protocol to ensure social distancing and be consistent with the guidance from the Iowa Department of Public Health
  • A gathering of people inside parked enclosed motor vehicles, so long as not more than 10 people in the motor vehicle

Farmers Markets- Farmers Markets will still be allowed operate with the following regulations:

  • Entertainment and activities prohibited
  • Common seating prohibited
  • Vendor spacing must be six feet apart with empty space
  • Social distancing, hygiene, and public health measures shall be implemented

Take Precautions in Public

Even though the state is starting to open, it’s important to remember the virus is still spreading so Iowans need to continue to take precautions.

SOCIAL DISTANCE: If you go out, try to avoid close contact with others and put 6 feet of distance between yourself and others as much as possible. Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus.

WASH YOUR HANDS: Be sure to wash your hands often, especially once you’ve been out of your home.

WEAR A MASK: In light of data about how COVID-19 spreads, the CDC recommends that people wear a cloth face covering to cover their nose and mouth in the community settings. This is to protect people around you if you are infected but do not have symptoms. Limiting contact with others is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones.

STAY HOME IF YOU ARE SICK: Stay home if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 including a fever, runny nose, or chest pain.

Returning to Work

Based on some projections, Iowa still has not hit the highest peak for this virus. Factories and long-term care facilities are still experiencing significant COVID-19 outbreaks. While workers are still being asked to do their jobs, there needs to be assurance of proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE’s), sick leave, and job security.

Many businesses are being asked to take strict precautions for workers returning to the job. Iowans should be sure to reach out to employers to ensure they are taking proper steps to slow the spread.  Safeguards may include;

  • Employees should wear PPE or face coverings when possible.
  • Practice sensible social distancing, maintaining six feet between co-workers.
  • When possible, open all doors to reduce the need for direct contact.
  • Employees who appear to have symptoms upon arrival at work or who become sick during the day should immediately be separated from others and sent home.
  • Employees should avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth — Do NOT shake hands.
  • Provide a place to wash hands or alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Sanitize any high-traffic areas, such as doorknobs, counters, etc.
  • Limiting cash handling, instead try to use credit/debit cards, tap to pay, Venmo, PayPal or another form of contact-less payment.

Many Iowans are still risking their lives, spending long hours doing essential work.  Iowans owe them a debt of gratitude for the countless sacrifices they are making to keep Iowans safe.


Unemployment Help Still Available

The COVID-19 epidemic has led to job loss not seen since the Great Depression. Since March 17th over 285,000 Iowans have filed for unemployment benefits. Nationally, over the last seven weeks, 1 in 5 Americans have filed for unemployment.
In response to this unprecedented level of job loss changes were made to the unemployment system to offer more help to Iowans affected by the pandemic.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act expanded unemployment benefits to those who were previously ineligible such as self-employed Iowans or employees of nonprofits. The bill also extended benefits an additional 13-weeks and offered additional funds to help offset income.

However, if Iowans quit their jobs they are not eligible for benefits. Additionally, if Iowans receive benefits and get recalled to work and fail to return to work, they are likely to lose assistance, even if they fear their workplace is unsafe due to lack of testing or protective gear. Iowans should contact their employer if they are sick, taking care of someone with COVID-19, or have at-risk conditions to see what accommodations are available. Iowans should learn their rights prior to going back work. Learn more from the Iowa Labor Center at; https://laborcenter.uiowa.edu/sites/laborcenter.uiowa.edu/files/iowa_worker_rights_during_covid-19_4-24-20.pdf.

To apply for unemployment benefits, visit https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/file-claim-unemployment-insurance-benefits.

More information about eligibility please visit https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/sites/search.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/files/content-files/FAQs%20Workers%2005.01.20.pdf


New Resources Now Available for Child Care Providers

Child care providers are a critical component to keeping Iowa’s economy up and running. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, they have struggled to keep their doors open and have had trouble getting the necessary cleaning supplies to keep the children in their care safe.

Through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Iowa has received $39.1 million to help these providers. The Iowa Department of Human Resources (DHS), the agency responsible for distributing the funds, released a plan last week detailing how the money will be used. Here are the key points of the plan:

  • Provide a monthly stipend of $2,000 to open licensed centers and $500 to open registered homes
  • Provide an additional monthly stipend of $2,000 to licensed centers and $500 to registered homes providing a 25 percent discount to essential services personnel
  • Pay providers for unlimited absences and full-day care for school-age children
  • Provide hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies directly to providers
  • Cover the cost of background checks for employees at temporary emergency sites
  • Waive CCA family co-pays and provide full tuition amounts to providers serving CCA families
  • Provide a rejuvenation grant to providers who have closed to assist them in re-opening


To see the entire plan and instructions on how to apply for these funds, visit: https://dhs.iowa.gov/childcare/funding-opportunities

For the Frequently Asked Questions page, go to: https://dhs.iowa.gov/sites/default/files/DHS_FAQ_CARES_Funding.pdf?050520202312=&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

For additional childcare guidance, please visit: https://dhs.iowa.gov/sites/default/files/DHS_ChildCareGuidance.pdf?032120201912


How to Get Tested for COVID-19

If you are feeling any symptoms of COVID-19, including cough, fever, runny nose or shortness of breath, call your primary doctor.  Please be sure to make an appointment prior to visiting the health care facility.

Drive Thru Testing

Iowa is now offering drive through testing for those who qualify after taking an online assessment at www.testiowa.com. Various testing sites have been set up throughout Iowa (listed below). Only individuals who have qualified for testing and scheduled an appointment will be tested.

The Governor has released some data about the Test Iowa assessments Iowans have taken, but still has not said how many tests have actually been given through the new program. However, Iowans are still encouraged to take assessment at www.testiowa.com.


Prevent Domestic Violence and Child Abuse During COVID-19

COVID-19 is bringing many challenges for victims of domestic violence and child abuse. Iowans are all encouraged to stay home for the safety of ourselves and our communities, but this could be gravely impacting intimate partner violence and child abuse, as not everyone’s home is safe.

The COVID-19 epidemic has resulted in diminished community support and heightened levels of distress, which are factors that can worsen domestic abuse. Seeking safety, relying on the community, and attending support groups are more difficult during this quarantine.

Iowans in need of help should call the 24/7 hotline to report domestic violence at 800-770-1670 or to report child abuse go to call 800-362-2178.


Other COVID-19 Updates 

AFFORDABLE HOUSING: To expand affordable housing for working Iowa families, the Iowa Economic Development Authority is accepting applications through June 8 for the Workforce Housing Tax Credit program. This program offers tax benefits to developers who provide housing in smaller Iowa communities, focusing especially on projects that rehabilitate abandoned, empty or dilapidated properties. Get complete details at iowaeda.com/WHTC.

SMALL BUSINESS HELP: The Iowa Economic Development Authority is continuously updating their website for small business owners, www.iowabusinessrecovery.com. The Iowa Economic Development Authority has given out more grants to small businesses and  will continue to give out grants as funds become available.  Businesses that received grants can be found here, https://www.iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/aspx/general/dynamicpage.aspx?id=205. Due to Congressional action small businesses can again apply for relief through the Small Business Administration.  More information on the programs can be found here, https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options  

VOTE FROM HOME: With the outbreak of COVID-19, the Iowa Secretary of State is encouraging Iowans to vote from home for the primary election coming up in June. All registered voters were mailed an absentee ballot request form in the mail this week. The form must be mailed in by May 22nd to vote from home. If you didn’t get the request form, you can print one out here (https://bit.ly/2VJIzYu).  Click here to find out if you are registered to vote, https://bit.ly/2KJnNlu

FOOD ASSISTANCE:  Are you in need of food assistance? As the economy continues to struggle, Iowans know that COVID-19 is a financial strain for many families. Find a food dispensary: https://www.foodbankiowa.org/gethelp. If you are able to donate, please visit: https://www.foodbankiowa.org.


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.

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

FOOD PANTRIES: Find a food pantry near you go to: https://www.foodbankiowa.org/

CHILDCARE: Looking for childcare during COVID-19? Go to https://dhs.iowa.gov/childcare-covid-19 to find open spots or facilities.

FREE LEGAL HELP: https://www.iowalegalaid.org/resource/2020-coronavirus-outbreak-what-you-need-to-know

CARES ACT FEDERAL LEGISLATION: A new summary of recently passed federal legislation and its impact on Iowa will be continuously updated and is available here: https://tinyurl.com/sg2hluc

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH UPDATES: For the latest updates on coronavirus and to learn more about prevention efforts, go to the Iowa Dept. of Public Health at https://idph.iowa.gov/Emerging-Health-Issues/Novel-Coronavirus

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES: http://volunteeriowa.galaxydigital.com

By | 2020-09-28T13:12:23+00:00 May 14th, 2020|Newsletters|