Weekly COVID-19 update: news, resources and information

iowa department of human rights

April 24, 2020

We are here to help.

COVID-19 has affected various aspects of life for Iowa residents, communities, and businesses. Information surrounding COVID-19 is rapidly changing and can be overwhelming. To help Iowans navigate information, the Iowa Department of Human Rights has compiled some resources about health and safety, language access, food, employment, grants, and more.  We hope these resources will help Iowans stay safe, healthy, informed, and resilient during these challenging times.

Increasing COVID-19 Testing for Iowans

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds launched a new initiative called TestIowa to help more Iowans get tested for the coronavirus and to limit its spread. The process for TestIowa is free and works in three steps:

  1. Assess.  Answer some questions online about yourself and your health at this website https://www.testiowa.com/. The questions are available in English and Spanish.  
  2. Test.  If testing is needed, you will be scheduled for a free drive-through test. You will receive the date, time, location, and instructions. 
  3. Track.  If you test  positive for the virus, you will be asked to answer more questions to help prevent spreading the virus. You may be asked where you have traveled recently and who you have been in contact with.

To view the press release, visit: https://governor.iowa.gov/press-release/gov-reynolds-launches-test-iowa-initiative-to-expand-testing-capacity-to-limit-the.

COVID-19 Information, Materials, and Resources in Multiple Languages

Iowa PBS ofrecerá información de salud y seguridad en español ante la pandemia del COVID-19 (Iowa PBS to offer Spanish language safety information amidst COVID-19 pandemic)

Thank you to Iowa PBS for making Governor Kim Reynolds' press conferences available in Spanish. Below is information from Iowa PBS's announcement:

Los residentes hispanohablantes de Iowa ahora podrán acceder a transmisiones en vivo de información importante sobre la pandemia del COVID-19. Mediante el canal de audio secundario (SAP, por sus siglas en inglés) Iowa PBS estará ofreciendo un servicio de interpretación al español durante la cobertura diaria de las conferencias de prensa de la gobernadora Kim Reynolds sobre el COVID-19, y también durante los episodios de Iowa Press Special: Coronavirus.

La interpretación al español de estos programas estará disponible durante la transmisión en vivo en Iowa PBS a través de la opción de canal de audio secundario (SAP). Después de la transmisión en vivo, los televidentes también podrán acceder a la versión con audio en español de los programas y conferencias de prensa en la página web iowapbs.org y en YouTube, mientras que los episodios especiales de Iowa Press estarán disponibles en la aplicación móvil PBS Video App.

Spanish-speaking Iowans will now be able to access live translations of important information about the COVID-19 pandemic. Iowa PBS is offering second audio program (SAP) services in Spanish for its coverage of Gov. Kim Reynolds’ weekday COVID-19 press conferences and Iowa Press Special: Coronavirus episodes.

The Spanish translations of these programs will be available as they broadcast live on Iowa PBS through SAP. Viewers can also stream the Spanish versions of the programs and press conferences later with dubbed audio on-demand on iowapbs.org and YouTube, and Iowa Press specials will be available on the PBS Video App.

Iowa Workforce Development offers information in Spanish on the following topics:

COVID-19 English Language Learner Help Line

Interpreters for various languages are available 8:30 am-5:00 pm with a 24-hour voicemail at 1-877-558-2609. This help line was made possible to help expand language access to Iowans with limited English ability. The helpline can provide callers with information and resources. 

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.

Multilingual videos and materials related to COVID-19

Refugee Response has a YouTube channel dedicated to covering COVID-19 related topics, such as how to avoid COVID-19 related scams, and COVID-19 symptom/exposure information in languages including Arabic, Burmese, Nepali, and Pashto. All videos are available through the Refugee Response YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/RefugeeResponse/playlists

The Congolese Health Partnership has created a three video series called 'Protecting Our Community.' It covers the following topics: (1) What is coronavirus?; (2) How can we prevent coronavirus?; and (3) How do we seek care for coronavirus (specifically for those living in Johnson County)? The videos are currently available in English and Lingala, Swahili, French, and potentially others soon. The Congolese Health Partnership has created a YouTube channel so that you can stay up to date on videos as they are added: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH2vlK71NAtudX20TlmdrVg.

EMBARC has created a crisis response website with information about COVID-19 and links to resources in the following languages: ဗမာ Burmese, Chin-Hakha, Chin-Mizo, French, Karen, Karenni, Kirundi, Kunama, Swahili. Visit: https://sites.google.com/embarciowa.org/embarc-crisis-response/home for more information.

The COVID-19 Health Literacy Project has COVID-19 fact sheets available that have been translated into 30+ languages: https://bit.ly/3cBnaq9. This project was started in an effort to help patients from vulnerable communities know when and how to seek care by Pooja Chandrashekar, a first-year medical student at Harvard Medical School. It has expanded into a national coalition of more than 150 medical students from over 35 institutions and materials are available in 34 languages. All materials are reviewed and vetted by faculty members at Harvard Medical School and are created in collaboration with Harvard Health Publishing.

Equality Labs has created a list of COVID-19 materials in multiple languages here: https://www.equalitylabs.org/covid19guide. The languages include: English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Malayalam, Kannada, Punjabi, Urdu, Nepali, Burmese, Bengali, and Marathi.

CDC Multilingual Materials

Looking for information on COVID-19? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updates in English and Spanish on their website. For information and resources en Español, visit: https://bit.ly/2VpgNQX. In English visit: www.coronavirus.gov.

For a full list of CDC materials in languages other than English, visit: https://wwwn.cdc.gov/pubs/other-languages?Sort=Lang%3A%3Aasc

The CDC has a YouTube page with channels in English and Spanish: https://bit.ly/3eDL8my (English) and https://bit.ly/3cA7KCr (Spanish). The CDC also has an ASL YouTube channel located here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLvrp9iOILTQatwnqm61jqFrsfUB4RKh6J

Materials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has updated its “Best Practices for Retail Food Stores, Restaurants, and Food Pick-Up/Delivery Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic” to include a PDF summary infographic and PDF versions in SpanishKorean, and simplified Chinese

Assistance: bills, food, health care

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

Food Assistance

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 see 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.

Looking to offer help? Food Banks throughout the nation and the state of Iowa are struggling to provide needed food and supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re interested in helping, visit the Iowa Food Bank Association’s website to learn more about how you can help: https://www.iowafba.org/

Assistance for Rural Communities

On April 13, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) unveiled a one-stop-shop of federal programs that can be used by rural communities, organizations and individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide is a resource for rural leaders looking for federal funding and partnership opportunities to help address this pandemic. For the full guide, visit: https://www.rd.usda.gov/sites/default/files/USDA_COVID-19_Fed_Rural_Resource_Guide.pdf

To view a document detailing the list of USDA programs available in English, visit: https://bit.ly/2XUd8MS. In Spanish, visit: https://bit.ly/34U23gj

Medicaid Income Guidance

The COVID-19 stimulus payments to individuals and families are not countable income for Medicaid applicants and recipients. Stimulus payments not spent in the month it is received are excluded as a resource for 12 months. Find more guidance related to the stimulus payment and its effect on Medicaid recipients on the DHS website.

Financial Counseling available through ISU Extension and Outreach

Many Iowans are concerned about their finances. If you’re not sure where to start, get free, confidential financial help from a Family Finance Educator at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. For more information, visit their Managing Personal Finances in Tough Times webpage https://www.extension.iastate.edu/humansciences/finance or leave a message at 1-800-447-1985, and someone will call you back. 


COVID-19 Workplace guidance for employers and employees from OSHA

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued workplace guidance for employers and employees, including where to go to find help. To view the guidance, visit: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf (English) or https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3992.pdf (Spanish)

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.

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. Para español, haga clic aquí: https://www.eeoc.gov/spanish/.

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

Legal Help

Free hotline 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. The number is 1-800-332-0419. It is a "call-back" hotline. Leave a voicemail, and a representative will return your call. For more information go to: https://www.iowalegalaid.org/resource/2020-coronavirus-outbreak-what-you-need-to-know

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. For more information, visit: https://lawyerscommittee.org/project/stop-hate-project/.

Immigrant Workers' Rights and COVID-19

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/unpaid time off from work, employer actions regarding workers’ health, prohibited discrimination and harassment, unemployment insurance, and more. To see the full FAQ, visit: https://www.nelp.org/publication/faq-immigrant-workers-rights-and-covid-19/

Emergency/Victim Services

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. 

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) releases new resource document

To help families and communities address intimate partner violence and child abuse health concerns, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has created an "Intimate Partner Violence and Child Abuse Considerations During COVID-19" resource document. To view it, visit: https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/social-distancing-domestic-violence.pdf


Resources for English Language Learner (ELL) students and teachers 

Heartland AEA has compiled a list of resources "10 Considerations For English Learners During School Closures" for ELL students and teachers to offer additional tools and supports while transitioning to online distance learning. To see the Google Doc, click here

Resources through the Iowa Department of Education

The Iowa Department of Education and other partners have created a resource page for families, educators, and/or students to support enrichment and/or continuity of learning during the COVID-19 outbreak. These resources may or may not be aligned to a student's specific coursework. To view the site, visit: https://educateiowa.gov/pk-12/resources-support-learning-during-covid-19

Resources through Iowa PBS

Visit the Iowa PBS page to find help in the following subject areas:

Small Business/Non-Profit Help

Iowa Small Business Relief Fund

An alliance of Iowa organizations has created the Small Business Relief fund to assist small businesses that are disrupted by COVID-19. The alliance includes: The Director’s Council, Immigrant Entrepreneurs Summit, League of United Latin American Citizens - Iowa (LULAC Iowa), One Voice, Iowa State Extension, DREAM Iowa, Iowa Community Capital, Ethnic Minorites of Burma Advocacy Center (EMBARC Iowa), Des Moines Branch of the NAACP, Latino Resources of Iowa, and Financial Empowerment Center (DMACC). These funds are available to small businesses with 1-7 employees, and the businesses are not recipients of federal and state small business relief dollars. For more information, please visit https://www.empowermoney.org/smallbusinessrelief.

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.


Iowa Statewide Emergency Registry of Volunteers (i-SERV)

The Iowa Statewide Emergency Registry of Volunteers (i-SERV) is looking for volunteers to serve in the event of a disaster or public health emergency. i-SERV can use volunteers with a variety of skills and expertise, such as healthcare workers, interpreters, clerical work, and others. To register with the i-SERV program and for more information, please visit  https://www.iaserv.org/.

Volunteer Iowa connecting volunteers

Are you looking for a place to volunteer your time during the COVID-19 pandemic? The people of the state of Iowa could use your help. State officials launched a new website to connect healthy Iowans who want to volunteer in their communities with nonprofits: http://volunteeriowa.galaxydigital.com/

Looking to help make and distribute masks? Do you need a mask?

The Maerz brothers from Keokuk and their company created a website called "Mask Helpers" to make getting masks more efficient.

Anyone from around the country can visit maskhelpers.org. There you can request a face mask, make one, donate supplies or offer to distribute them.

Grants and Loans

Grants Available Through Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council

The Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council is offering to fund time-limited projects to assist in filling gaps in services and supports that people with developmental disabilities and families are experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Iowa DD Council Covid-19 Relief Fund will fund grants up to $1,000. 

You can find more information on the Iowa DD Council website.

Iowa Arts Council accepting applications for emergency grants to Iowa arts and cultural organizations

The Iowa Arts Council will accept applications for a second round of emergency grants April 24 through May 1 from all Iowa arts and cultural organizations that have existed for at least three years, maintain a 501(c)3 nonprofit status and had an operating budget of at least $10,000 during the past fiscal year. The details and application will be posted online at iowaculture.gov.

Funding for this second round of grants comes from the National Endowment of the Arts, through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The grants are intended to help save jobs in the arts sector and keep the doors open to thousands of cultural organizations that add value to America’s economy and the creative life of its communities.

Other Resources

Legislative Services Agency launches new COVID-19 webpage

The Legislative Services Agency (LSA) has launched a new webpage with links to
its publications regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. The page can be found at
www.legis.iowa.gov/publications/fiscal/covidanalysis. There is also a link to it on the General Assembly’s homepage.

LSA staff are monitoring information on COVID-19, including researching what other states are doing, tracking federal legislation and funding, and following the activities of State agencies in regard to the pandemic.

Interested individuals may also subscribe to any of the LSA’s publications to receive
email notifications when new information is published.

American Association on Health and Disability conducting COVID-19 & Disability survey

The American Association on Health and Disability (AAHD) is conducting a confidential, real-time online assessment of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on healthcare and healthcare access among persons with a range of disabilities. They developed the COVID-19 & Disability Survey to collect and analyze that data. To access the survey, go to: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/COVID-19-DisabilityThe survey will be open from April 17, 2020 to May 1, 2020.