Weekly COVID-19 update: news, resources and information

iowa department of human rights

Friday, April 17, 2020

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News from the State of Iowa

Governor Kim Reynolds issues new proclamation requiring additional protective measures in Regional Medical Coordination Center (RMCC) Region 6 

To read the full proclamation, click here.  To access information in other languages, visit the Department of Human Rights' Language Access page.  

The state of Iowa is still under a public health disaster emergency.  Because more people have the virus, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has banned most gatherings of people in Iowa Region 6.  Region 6 includes these counties:  Allamakee, Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Clayton, Delaware, Dubuque, Fayette, Grundy, Howard, Jones, Linn, and Winneshiek.  The Governor’s order began at 11:59 pm on April 16, 2020, and will continue until 11:59 p.m. on April 30, 2020. 

To protect people from getting the virus, Governor Reynolds banned gatherings.  All gatherings are banned except for people who live in the same house. People must be six feet away from people outside their house whenever possible.  This order applies to people who are in Region 6 whether or not they live in these counties.  Employers in Region 6 counties must make reasonable efforts to allow workers to work from home.  If that is not possible, employers must use precautions to protect the health of employees and the public if work has to be done in person.  The Governor’s April 16 order does not mean that more businesses should close.

The state and local law enforcement will monitor what is happening to protect people’s health and safety.  Law enforcement will assist in enforcing the Governor’s order.  

New COVID-19 Multi-lingual Hotline Launched

Interpreters in high-demand languages are available 8:30 am-5:00 pm with a 24-hour voicemail at 1-877-558-2609. This hotline was made possible to help expand language access to Iowans with limited English ability.

This endeavor is a partnership among the Refugee Alliance of Central Iowa (RACI), Lutheran Services in Iowa Refugee and Immigrant Services, 2-1-1, Polk County Health Department, and the Iowa Department of Public Health with funding from the Disaster Recovery Fund.

Do you have questions about utility bills during the pandemic?

Home energy assistance - The Iowa Department of Human Rights' network of local community action agencies administer the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to assist eligible households with a portion of their utility bill. Applications are being accepted at the local agencies through May 31, 2020. Find out how to apply for assistance through your local Community Action Agency.

The Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) issued an emergency order on March 27 approving a moratorium on disconnections of electric and natural gas utility service, and investor-owned water utilities, during the COVID-19 public health emergency.  The Iowa Attorney General explains that the moratorium will allow customers to keep these utility services during the pandemic. It is important to note that bills will continue to accrue during the moratorium, and If you are unable to pay your bills, contact your utility company to discuss a payment options to avoid a large unpaid balances and reduce the potential for service disconnection once the public health emergency has passed.                               

Customers with utility issues or questions may submit a complaint online  at https://iub.iowa.gov/utility-complaints-or-inquiries, or contact the IUB Customer Service Department by telephone at 877-565-4450 or (515) 725-7321 and by email at customer@iub.iowa.gov

Iowa Department of Public Health develops online resource for underserved populations in Iowa

The Iowa Department of Public Health, working with the Iowa Department of Human Rights (DHR), other state agencies and nonprofits, has developed a new web resource for Iowans who are at higher risk for health concerns related to the COVID-19 virus. Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Iowans, Iowans with disabilities, Iowans with a first language other than English, caregivers, people at risk for violence, Iowans who are homeless, LGBTQ+, or households with mixed or undocumented status and those who are at higher risk and may need additional resources or information. Please visit this site at https://idph.iowa.gov/Health-Equity/COVID-19-Resources-for-Underserved-Populations to learn more.

Iowa Food Assistance during COVID-19

The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) COVID19 web page has a new resource on Iowa Food Assistance. To view resources, click here.

Other resources for food assistance are available on the State of Iowa coronavirus website, including programs through the Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Department of Public Health, Iowa Department on Aging, and other services. 

The Iowa Department of Human Rights' network of local community action agencies has various types of help available such as food and clothing pantries, emergency assistance, and other services. Contact your local agency to what what services are available in your area.  

The Food Bank of Iowa also has a searchable site/map to learn which food bank serves your area: https://www.foodbankiowa.org/gethelp.

Iowa Department on Aging: Resource list for those socially isolated due to COVID-19

Are you looking for help for yourself or an older loved one during this time? The Iowa Department on Aging created a "Social Connectedness for the Homebound" resource list to address social isolation during the pandemic. To view this resource list, visit: https://www.iowaaging.gov/sites/default/files/library-documents/Social_Connectedness_for_the_Homebound_Resources_2020.03.pdf.

Searching for child care during this time? Here is a list of all registered child care providers open

Are you a worker searching for child care during this time? The Iowa Department of Human Services has created a map of all registered child care providers open during this time: https://iowa.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery#/cabe69b5e2494259ab6c820c249e0f19.

Iowa Child Care Resources & Referral (CCR&R)

Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) is a program to support quality child care throughout the state of Iowa. CCR&R is available to assist families in selecting child care providers who best meet the needs of a child and their family. Child Care Consultants provide on-site consultation to licensed preschools, centers, nonregistered home providers and Child Development Home providers. Iowa Child Care Resource & Referral can provide options for families that are essential workers that need care. Families can call 1-855-244-5301 or visit the website at www.iowaccrr.org

Questions about Unemployment Benefits in Iowa?

Employers or claimants with questions can email Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) at uiclaimshelp@iwd.iowa.gov or call IWD at 1-866-239-0843. Please check www.IowaWorkforceDevelopment.gov for the specific information needed within the email in order for IWD to answer your questions.

IWD continues to update their website several times a day and it contains the most recent and accurate information. It also contains videos, webinars, FAQs and other forms of assistance for all of the different types of claims and programs such as the most updated information on the CARES Act benefits and payments.

Employers looking for temporary workers in the state of Iowa

Are you or do you know of a worker impacted by COVID-19 closures? There are temporary job openings available statewide. To view a list of openings, visit: https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/temp-jobs

Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) waives co-pays, premiums, and contributions during emergency declaration

Effective March 13, 2020 as a result of the emergency declaration due to COVID-19, DHS began waiving all co-pays, premiums, and contributions for several programs until the emergency declaration is lifted.

Additionally, DHS has put a pause on all dis-enrollments for medical assistance programs until the emergency declaration is lifted. Members who are past due on their payment will not be dis-enrolled during this time.

If you have any questions, please contact Iowa Medicaid Enterprise (IME) Member Services at 1-800-338-8366. Visit: https://dhs.iowa.gov/sites/default/files/470-5609.pdf?041720201110 for more information.

Resources to support learning during COVID-19 for students and parents from the Iowa Department of Education

The Iowa Department of Education has partnered with other agencies to develop a list of educational resources available to students and parents during this time. To view the resources, visit: https://educateiowa.gov/pk-12/resources-support-learning-during-covid-19.

State of Iowa releases new coronavirus dashboard

The state of Iowa has released an updated dashboard on coronavirus.iowa.gov that will be updated daily to include comprehensive tracking of COVID-19 in Iowa. The new dashboard includes cases, deaths, and tests conducted in each county. 

You can also visit here: https://idph.iowa.gov/Emerging-Health-Issues/Novel-Coronavirus to view demographic information.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources releases COVID-19 updates related to state parks, wildlife areas and public facilities

For more information, visit: https://www.iowadnr.gov/About-DNR/Covid-19. For a full list of the DNR's online services (such as renewing hunting and fishing licenses, where to find state parks, etc.), visit: https://www.iowadnr.gov/about-dnr/about-dnr/online-services-databases.

Secretary of State creates searchable database to locate those able to do remote notarizations

Secretary of State Paul Pate unveiled a searchable database Monday that allows Iowans to easily locate people available to do remote notarizations. This allows searchers to find remote-authorized notaries by city, ZIP code and other means. The in-person requirement for notarizing documents is temporarily waived for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency declared last month by Gov. Kim Reynolds. An online application is available here: https://sos.iowa.gov/covid19/remotenotarization/form.aspx.

Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs extends deadlines for several grants

Artists, filmmakers, media professionals and others have an extra month to apply for state grants for cultural projects. The new deadline is June 1.

They have also extended the deadline to apply for Iowa Great Places and Iowa Cultural & Entertainment District designations and re-designations. The new deadline is June 15. 

For more information, visit: https://iowaculture.gov/about-us/about/grants

Community Resources & Announcements

Online tool to help Non-Filers (those who do not file taxes) receive economic impact payments

The ‘Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here’ web portal is a tool for Americans who are not required to file tax returns to make sure they receive their payment as quickly and safely as possible.

Users should go to IRS.gov and click the Non-Filers: Enter Information here button. The tool will request basic information to confirm eligibility, calculate and send the Economic Impact Payments. 

For more information, visit: https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm971

FAQ: Immigrant Workers' Rights and COVID-19: A Resource for Workers and Their Advocates

The National Immigration Law Center, National Employment Law Project, and OSH Law Project have created a FAQ about "Immigrant Workers’ Rights and COVID-19: A Resource for Workers and Their Advocates" including outlining the following topics:

  • Safety and Health on the Job
  • Using Collective Action to Improve Workplace Safety and Health
  • Paid and Unpaid Time Off from Work
  • Employer Actions Regarding Workers' Health
  • Prohibited Discrimination and Harassment
  • Unemployment Insurance
  • Workers' Compensation
  • Worksite Immigration Enforcement & Employment Eligibility Verification
  • Economic Stimulus Payments / Access to Health Care

To see the FAQ, visit: https://www.nelp.org/publication/faq-immigrant-workers-rights-and-covid-19/

Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law sets up hate incident hotline

If you are an individual or institution that was victimized by a hate incident, you can call 1-844-9-NO-HATE for reporting and resource purposes. Callers will receive resources they need as the organization leverages its national network of pro bono attorneys, connects callers and victims of hate to community organizations, mental health services, and in appropriate cases, provide access to counsel. For more information, visit: https://lawyerscommittee.org/project/stop-hate-project/.

Quick fact sheet/guide specific to refugees and resettlement agencies available

Refugee Council USA has put together a quick fact sheet/guide specific to refugees and resettlement agencies in response Covid-19. These topics cover changes in immigration procedures, Public Charge, resources for assistance, and more in a condensed/printable format.

Iowa Victim Services Still Available during COVID-19
All 24 victim service programs in Iowa continue to offer 24/7 free and confidential support and resources. Most of these services are being done remotely, including survivor support groups, counseling, and more. To find a victim service program in your area, visit: https://www.iowacasa.org/help. For culturally specific programs, visit: https://www.iowacasa.org/culturally-specific-programs.

If you need immediate assistance, contact the Iowa Victim Service Call Center at 1-800-770-1650 or text IOWAHELP to 20121. Helpline and textline services are available in English and Spanish. 

Are you a non-profit looking for help or guidance during this time?

The Larned A. Waterman Iowa Nonprofit Resource Center (LAWINRC) was founded in 2000 to serve a dynamic and growing nonprofit sector in Iowa. The LAWINRC is dedicated to delivering high-quality direct services, education, and research to support current and future nonprofit leaders. The LAWINRC has a list of resources during the COVID-19 pandemic listed here: https://inrc.law.uiowa.edu/covid-19-nonprofit-resources

The National Council of Nonprofits also has information and a list of resources available. Visit: https://www.councilofnonprofits.org/ for more information.

Free hotline available for Iowans facing legal issues during COVID-19 pandemic

Iowa Legal Aid, in partnership with the Iowa State Bar Association and Polk County Bar Association’s Volunteer Lawyers Project, has set up a free hotline for Iowans who may be facing legal issues during the COVID-19 outbreak, including eviction, denial of unemployment benefits, employment issues, identity theft and more. The Hotline is 1-800-332-0419. Callers should leave a message, and a representative will call them back to obtain more information and get them connected with an attorney.  

For more information go to: https://www.iowalegalaid.org/resource/2020-coronavirus-outbreak-what-you-need-to-know

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) warns of potential scams involving COVID-19

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently released information warning people about potential scams involving COVID-19 relief. Click here to read in English, or here to read in Spanish

Do you need to report a potential scam or price gouging related to the COVID-19 pandemic?

You can report scammers during the COVID-19 pandemic through the Federal Trade Commission. To report, go to ftc.gov/complaint. For more information about potential scams, visit: https://www.ftc.gov/news-events.

The Iowa Attorney General’s office has also created a new form for Iowa consumers to report price gouging, as the number of reports rise during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Consumers can complete the form on the attorney general’s website, which can be found here: https://www.iowaattorneygeneral.gov/for-consumers/file-a-consumer-complaint/online-price-gouging-complaint-form

U.S. Food and Drug Administration is monitoring firms with fraudulent COVID-19 related claims

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is actively and aggressively monitoring for any firms marketing products with fraudulent COVID-19 diagnostic, prevention and treatment claims. Find out more at https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-update-fda-alerts-consumers-about-unauthorized-fraudulent-covid-19-test-kits.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ADDRESSES EMPLOYMENT-RELATED COVID-19 QUESTIONS

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released several COVID-19 publications and a webinar related to COVID-19 in employment situations. See below:

The EEOC also recently posted a webinar addressing questions arising under any of the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Laws and the COVID-19 pandemic. To view the recorded webinar, visit: https://youtu.be/i8bHOtOFfJU

Information for Federal Student Loan borrowers

Do you have a federal student loan? You may be able to find some help during the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to new legislation passed by Congress. The federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act suspends payments on federal student loans until September 30, 2020. For more information, visit: https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/coronavirus

Iowa 4-H offers at-home resources for children

Iowa 4-H has organized a database of at-home resources from the Iowa 4-H program, but also from programs across the country, giving families research-based learning opportunities in a time when they were most needed. For more information, visit: https://www.extension.iastate.edu/4h/.

Illinois Autism Partnership offers school closure kit for children with autism

The toolkit includes visual supports for children with autism to use during the COVID-19 school closures. To access the toolkit, visit: https://l.ead.me/bbTE3n?fbclid=IwAR1JJNcwq19HDgHX1fwvoSq-MdU9gKFGqeZifmDMv4snpKFyLxhspro2y14


Webinar: Tools for Advocates Responding to COVID-19 and Domestic Violence

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased danger for survivors of domestic violence in the past few months. In a time of pandemic, survivors have far more limited access to shelter services, financial assistance, law enforcement responses, and court protections, leaving them without the safety resources that were once available to them. And many survivors are among those who have lost their jobs in the economic turmoil COVID-19 has created, jeopardizing potential independence from an abusive home life.

Many organizations are stepping up to provide toolkits that can be used by survivors and victim advocates alike in this unique time to help survivors trapped in abusive situations. This webinar will review a number of these helpful toolkits and will also address how safety planning and protection orders may be used to keep survivors safe against physical and firearm violence in a “stay at home” situation.

To sign up, click here.

COVID-19 Affordable Housing Webinar

Housing webinar

To register, click here.

Grants and Loans

U.S. Small Business Administration's (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection
Program (PPP) is a loan program designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. All small businesses with 500 or fewer employees are eligible.

A PPP loan will be fully forgiven if the funds are used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, or utilities. At least 75.0% of the forgiven amount must be used for payroll. Loan payments will also be deferred for six months. No collateral or personal guarantees are required. 

Neither the government nor lenders will charge small businesses any fees. Forgiveness is based on the employer maintaining or quickly rehiring employees and maintaining salary levels. Forgiveness will be reduced if full-time headcount declines or if salaries and wages decrease. This loan has a maturity of two years and an interest rate of 1.0%.

Lenders were permitted to begin processing loan applications on April 3, 2020, and the Program will be available through June 30, 2020.

To check out other COVID-19 relief options through the Small Business Administration, visit: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options.