Weekly COVID-19 update: news, resources and information

iowa department of human rights

May 15, 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.

Guidance from the Iowa Department of Public Health on re-opening

On May 13, 2020, Governor Kim Reynolds issued a proclamation allowing more businesses to reopen throughout the state starting May 15, 2020, in a limited fashion with appropriate public health measures in place. Some of the businesses allowed to partially reopen statewide include salons, barbershops, and medical spas. Other businesses such as casinos and some bars will continue to stay closed statewide until May 27, 2020. To view the full proclamation and list of businesses and restrictions, click here. Summaries of the proclamation in multiple languages can be found on the Language Access page on the Iowa Department of Human Rights' website.  

The Iowa Department of Public Health has issued guidance and posters about re-opening ("Do your part. Help restart Iowa"). See below for links to the materials in multiple languages.

Protect Yourself and Your Community

  • Take steps to protect yourself and your community when out in public.
  • Do your Part. Help Restart Iowa.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Stay six feet apart from others
  • Stay home if you have underlying health conditions, are at high-risk for COVID-19 or if you are feeling ill.
  • Consider wearing a mask if you will be in close proximity to others.

Ensure a safe workplace

  • Ensure a safe workplace for your employees.
  • Provide or allow employees to wear masks when appropriate.
  • Offer supplies for hand washing or hand sanitizer.
  • Clean and disinfect all high-touch surfaces frequently.
  • Stagger work shifts and employee breaks to encourage physical separation.
  • Allow employees to work remotely when possible and take leave when ill.

Safe environment

  • Welcome back your patrons with a safe environment.
  • Post signs at the door saying no one should enter if experiencing symptoms.
  • Have employees stay home when ill.
  • Offer supplies for handwashing or hand sanitizer.
  • Help patrons with social distancing by marking six foot intervals when possible.
  • Clean and disinfect all surfaces that are touched frequently.

Do Your Part-Help Restart Iowa Posters

Voting Access

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.  The deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail is Friday May 22, 2020.  You can also download the form and find other options to vote by visiting their website at https://sos.iowa.gov.  

Voting with Assistance

The Iowa Secretary of State's Office also has information to assist voters with disabilities.  For more information about accessible voting locations, accessible voting equipment, and accessible services, please visit the Secretary of State's page at  https://sos.iowa.gov/disabilities.html.  

Financial Assistance

Home Energy Assistance Deadline May 31, 2020

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.

Covering costs associated with COVID-19

HealthWell Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance to cover the costs associated with delivered food, medication, diagnostics, transportation, and telehealth as a result of COVID-19 risk or incidence. Visit their website for more information. Applications are also accepted by phone 1-800-675-8416.

Help through the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS)

The Iowa Department of Human Services has a number of assistance programs such as food, childcare, and cash assistance. Visit their website for information on programs and eligibility.

Financial Consultation through Iowa State University Extension

If you're concerned about your finances and 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 or leave a message at 1-800-447-1985, and someone will call you back.

Unemployment Insurance through Iowa Workforce Development

The Iowa Workforce Development is the state agency that administers unemployment insurance benefits. Visit their website or call for eligibility guidelines, application process, and updates.

Emergency/Victim Services

Mental Health Crisis Lines

  • Disaster Distress Helpline (SAMHSA)
    Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Link)
    Call 800-273-8255 or Chat with Lifeline
  • Crisis Textline (Link)
    Text HOME to 741741
  • Veterans Crisis Line (VA)
    Call 800-273-8255 or text 838255
  • Your Life Iowa (Link)
    Call: (855) 581-8111; Text: (855) 895-8398

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. 

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.

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

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 and Burmese. 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.

Other Resources

Previous Newsletters

May 8, 2020

April 24, 2020

April 17, 2020

April 10, 2020