Weekly COVID-19 update: news, resources and information

iowa department of human rights

May 1, 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 that we will be sending out in a weekly email. We hope these resources will help Iowans stay safe, healthy, informed, and resilient during these challenging times.

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

Language Access from the Iowa Department of Human Rights

The Iowa Department of Human Rights has updated its Language Access page on critical information related to COVID-19 in a variety of languages. Visit our website for information on health and safety, summaries of the Governor's press conferences, myths, FAQs, and additional resources.

Iowa Workforce Development offers information in multiple languages

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is a program under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that provides temporary income to eligible individuals who became unemployed as a result of COVID-19, and are either self-employed, do not have sufficient work history to be eligible for a claim, or have exhausted other forms of unemployment insurance benefits.  For more information and eligibility guidelines, visit https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/pua-information. Scroll to the bottom of the page to translate the information in additional languages.  

Iowa Workforce Development offers information in multiple languages (Español, العربيةBosanski, Burmese, Hakha, ລາວ, Somali, and Tiếng Việt) on various topics including unemployment on their website:  https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/

Crisis Response Helpline

In partnership with 26 Immigrant and Refugee Led Faith and Community Organizations in six cities across Iowa, EMBARC has created a crisis response website to provide accurate and timely information about the coronavirus from credible sources such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and County Health Departments.

News are shared via translations, video, and audio recordings in ethnic languages from Burma including Hakha Chin, Mizo Chin, Karenni, Karen (ကညီ) and Burmese (ဗမာ). Information will also be provided in Kirundi, Kunama, Lingala, French and Swahili, through EMBARC's Community Catalyst Project, an initiative that was launched in 2018 to engage newly arrived refugee-led groups to grow leadership, build collective capacity, and increase impact.

For more information, visit: https://sites.google.com/embarciowa.org/embarc-crisis-response/home

English Language Learner Hotline 1-877-558-2609

RACI and Lutheran Services in Iowa, in partnership with 211, Polk County Heath Department, and the Iowa Department of Public Health, has a hotline that will help expand access and capacity to Iowans who are limited in English. Interpretation is available in Spanish, Arabic, Swahili, Kinyarawanda, Kirundi/Kinyamulenge, French, Burmese, Karen, Karenni, Nepali, Somali, Tigrinya, Kunama, Amharic, Nuer, Maban, Vietnamese, Mandarin, and other optional languages. Interpreters will be available 8:30-5:00 with a 24 hour voicemail. For more information click here

Translated flyers are now available in ArabicFrenchKinyamulengeKirundiMabanNepali, and Spanish. For a full list, please see the RACI Covid-19 response page: https://www.refugeeallianceofcentraliowa.org/covid19-information.

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.

Voting Access & Poll Workers Needed

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, some important changes have been made for voting in Iowa's primary on June 2, 2020:

  • Extending the period that people can vote early by mail
  • Making it easier for people to vote early by mail by automatically mailing key materials to some Iowans
  • Expanding curbside voting to more Iowans
  • Poll workers are also needed!

Vote by absentee ballot in the June 2nd primary

The Iowa Secretary of State’s Office is encouraging Iowans to vote absentee in the June 2nd primary to help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Their office is sending absentee ballot request forms to every active registered voter. They will begin arriving in mailboxes next week.

La Oficina del Secretario de Estado de Iowa está animando a los habitantes de Iowa a votar en ausencia en las primarias del 2 de junio para ayudar a reducir el riesgo de propagar COVID-19.

La oficina está enviando formularios de solicitud de boletas en ausencia a cada votante activo registrado. Comenzarán a llegar a los buzones la esta semana.

Considering becoming a poll worker? The state of Iowa could use your help!

Step up for the COVID-19 vulnerable

Helping voters vote, answering their questions, guiding them through the voting process and guarding the integrity of our elections is paramount in determining the will of the voters in selecting our leaders. The poll workers who are tasked with these duties are dedicated to our democracy and to making sure elections run smoothly.

Well-run elections are the key to our democracy, which binds the fabric of our society. Most poll workers in Iowa are in their 60s and 70s. They have faithfully performed these duties year after year, election after election. Yet their vulnerability to COVID-19 puts them in a high-risk population. 

Would you consider serving in their place? If interested, please visit the Iowa Secretary of State's website at: https://pollworker.iowa.gov/.

Mental Health

Your Life Iowa through the Iowa Department of Public Health

Everyone needs help sometimes. If you or a loved one are facing a problem with alcohol, drugs, gambling, mental health or suicidal thoughts, you’re not alone. That is why the Iowa Department of Public Health has created YourLifeIowa.org so Iowans can chat live, text, or call  and get reliable information and treatment options, and find nearby help.

If you or loved one have questions on the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), Click here for information, maps, and resources about the coronavirus response throughout Iowa.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) created a COVID-19 Resource and Information Guide in English and Spanish with information on topics about stress, anxiety, assistance programs, and more. 

Workplace Mental Health tips for maintaining mental wellness while teleworking

The American Psychiatric Association Foundation's Center for Workplace Mental Health has created a document containing tips for maintaining mental wellness while teleworking. To view the document, visit their website at: http://workplacementalhealth.org/Employer-Resources/Working-Remotely-During-COVID-19.

Assistance: bills, food, health care

Programs offered through the Iowa Department of Human Services

The Iowa Department of Human Services offers programs for those who may need help. For more information, visit the links listed below.

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.

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.

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/


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.

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 or https://www.icadv.org/iowa-victim-service-programs. For culturally specific programs, visit: https://www.iowacasa.org/culturally-specific-programs or https://www.icadv.org/culturally-specific.

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. 


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/.

Online ‘market’ launched for cloth mask donations

A Des Moines-based company Rocket Referrals has launched a website to connect U.S. residents in need of a reusable cloth mask with mask makers: Maskhelpers.org. Anyone who would like to donate masks can sign up online; mask makers are responsible for covering the costs, but have the option of requesting materials and postage to be donated through the website. 

Other Resources

Resources from the Iowa Developmental Disabilities (DD) Council

Many people with developmental disabilities are at a higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 (the coronavirus). The Iowa DD Council has put together resources to help you better understand COVID-19 and how you can protect yourself and those in your community. https://iowaddcouncil.org/covid19-resources/.

6 part series of webinars on coping during COVID-19

The DSM Magazine, is offering a 6 part series: Lifting The Veil, Life Interrupted by Covid-10. Topics include: Youth Interrupted, College Interrupted, Parenting Interrupted, Small Business Interrupted, Workplace Interrupted, and Equity & Inclusion Interrupted. More information can be found at their website https://dsmmagazine.com/liftingtheveil-2020/. 

Job Openings

There are openings across the state for temporary positions. This list is updated daily from Iowa Workforce Development: https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/temp-jobs.

Black Hawk County is currently recruiting for several full-time positions with the Sheriff’s Office, Health Department and IT Department. To view the positions, visit: http://www.co.black-hawk.ia.us/316/Job-Openings

Wells Fargo is hiring loan underwriters and other positions that need to be filled as soon as possible. Visit: wellsfargojobs.com for complete details and to apply.

Wells Fargo job opening