Weekly COVID-19 update: news, resources and information

iowa department of human rights

May 29, 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.

During the pandemic, it is especially important for us to serve as a catalyst of information to provide support and resources to Iowans, particularly vulnerable Iowans who are  experiencing additional challenges, to help them understand the state's response to  COVID-19. 

Governor Reynolds Signs Proclamation Continuing the Public Health Disaster Emergency 

On Tuesday, May 26, Governor Reynolds signed a new proclamation continuing the Public Health Disaster Emergency until June 25, 2020.

As previously announced, the proclamation permits bars, wineries, breweries, distilleries, and social and fraternal clubs to reopen on Thursday, May 28 with the same public health measures as restaurants in place.

The proclamation also permits the reopening on June 1 of additional establishments, including outdoor performance venues, casinos, bowling alleys, amusement parks, skating rinks, skate parks, and outdoor playgrounds.

The proclamation again permits social, community, recreational, leisure, and sporting gatherings and events of more than 10 people if public health measures are implemented, including limiting attendance to 50% of the venue capacity and maintaining six feet of distance between those attending. This also allows practices, games, and competitions for youth and adult baseball, softball, and individual sports such as running, biking, swimming, tennis, and golf to resume with appropriate public health measures in place.

The proclamation extends regulatory relief to those affected by this public health emergency until June 25.

To view the full proclamation, click here. In partnership with the Iowa Department of Public Health, visit the Iowa Department of Human Rights' Language Access page for translated summaries of the proclamations and other information in multiple languages. 

Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Program

On May 29, Governor Kim Reynolds launched a new program that will provide short-term relief to income-eligible renters and homeowners who are at risk of eviction or foreclosure due to a documented COVID-19 related loss of income. The COVID-19 Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Program is administered by the Iowa Finance Authority. To apply and for more information on eligibility, visit:  https://www.iowafinance.com/covid-19-iowa-eviction-and-foreclosure-prevention-program/

The Iowa Community Action Association (ICAA) and Iowa's local community action agencies are partnering with the Iowa Finance Authority (IFA) and Iowa Workforce Development to assist in reviewing and approving applications, and will assist renters with their applications.  The Iowa Department of Human Rights will collaborate with ICAA, IFA, and the network of community action agencies to develop and implement outreach strategies for underserved communities.  

  • Housing Recovery Help Line 1-855-300-5885; 515-348-8813 (English and Spanish); email: housingrecovery@iowafinace.com
  • Legal Assistance, Iowa Legal Aid 1-800-332-0419

Know Your Rights: Eviction Information for Non-Payment of Rent

Eviction for non-payment of rent

Need Help with Your Home Energy Bill?

Home Energy Assistance Application Deadline June 30, 2020

For individuals who received a disconnection notice or who have difficulty paying a utility bill, there is help available through the Iowa Department of Human Rights' network of local community action agencies that have offices in all 99 counties. Families can apply for the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) that can help pay a portion of an eligible household's utility bill. The application deadline is extended to June 30, 2020.

Community action agencies also have other types of help available, such as food and clothing pantries, and other services. You can find a link to information about your local community action agency by going to the Iowa Department of Human Rights' website at https://humanrights.iowa.gov/dcaa/where-apply or by dialing 2-1-1.

Information on the extended LIHEAP application deadline is available in multiple languages on the Iowa Department of Human Rights' website at https://humanrights.iowa.gov/covid-19/language-access.

TestIowa COVID-19 Testing and Locations

TestIowa has expanded the testing criteria, and the free COVID-19 test will be provided to anyone who is interested in being tested, regardless of symptoms or potential exposure to the virus. Go to the website first at TestIowa.com to take or retake the assessment, and you will receive information and instructions regarding your appointment. .     

Visit https://coronavirus.iowa.gov/ for a list of TestIowa sites, schedule, and COVID-19 information in Iowa.

Call TestIowa with questions about testing: 515-575-2131 or 844-844-1561 (toll free). Lines are open 8am - 8pm 7 days a week (except Holidays).

View the Press Release here.

Beware of Scams

Contact tracers are individuals who help identify people who have come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and instructs them to quarantine and monitor their symptoms daily. Scammers are posing as contact tracers and sending malicious text messages. The messages include links that will download software onto your device and give scammers access to your personal and financial information. The Federal Trade Commission advises to ignore and delete these scam messages. 

Contact Tracing Scam

Photo credit: FTC

Scammers are using a number of methods to defraud consumers using scams and misinformation about testing, treatment, and charities. The Iowa Department of Human Rights has compiled a Q&A on how to protect yourself against coronavirus myths, rumors, and scams at https://humanrights.iowa.gov/covid-19/myth-busters.


Two new unemployment benefit programs now available to Iowans

Iowa Workforce Development announced two new unemployment benefit programs available to Iowans--Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and State Extended Benefits.  The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation provides an additional 13 weeks of federally funded benefits to Iowans who have exhausted their 26 weeks of regular state unemployment benefits.  After their allotted weeks of regular state unemployment and the 13 weeks of PEUC are exhausted, unemployed workers will be eligible for State Extended Benefits.  For more information, visit IWD's website and press release.  

U.S. Department of Labor provides guidance on paid leave related to COVID-19

Paid leave due to COVID-19

(Click here for the PDF version of this infograph.)

For written guidance: https://blog.dol.gov/2020/05/11/are-you-eligible-for-covid-19-paid-leave

For general information on COVID-19 policies and law in the workplace from the U.S. Department of Labor:

Other Resources and Information

Iowa-Nebraska NAACP Presents Seven-Part Virtual Town Hall Series


Visit: https://www.facebook.com/iowanebraskaNAACP/ for more information.

Iowa legislative session to resume June 3, 2020

The Iowa legislature is scheduled to resume on June 3.  For information about session, meetings, schedules, and bills, visit https://www.legis.iowa.gov/.

Iowa DHS launches COVID Recovery Iowa, free virtual counseling sessions for Iowans

The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) received nearly $1 million in funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to offer free counseling to any Iowan who has been affected, in any way, by the COVID-19 public health emergency. The program, called COVID Recovery Iowa, is now available.

Counseling will take place via virtual sessions, chat or phone call. People of all ages may join groups online to find support and learn new strategies to cope with the effects of the pandemic in a variety of creative ways.

Iowans can access services through the following options:

  • Call 800-447-1985 to connect with a counselor specializing in rural issues and agriculture 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Call the Iowa Warm Line, 844-775-9276, to connect with a peer counselor or request to get in touch with a COVID Recovery Iowa counselor.
  • Visit www.COVIDrecoveryiowa.org and complete a contact form and a counselor will get back to you.

Iowa Department of Transportation seeking input

The Iowa Department of Transportation is seeking input from Iowans concerning the FY 2021 - 2023 Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) goals for the Federal Highway Administration funded projects. The Iowa DOT is seeking public participation on its goal-setting process from minority, women, general contractor groups, community organizations, and other officials. The next input meeting will be held Thursday, June 18, from 1:00-2:00 p.m. View the Iowa DOT's news release.  

Previous Newsletters

May 22, 2020

May 15, 2020

May 8, 2020

May 1, 2020

April 24, 2020

April 17, 2020

April 10, 2020

Are there other resources we should know about? Let us know.

To unsubscribe from this newsletter, click here or navigate to the "Manage Subscriptions" section below.

Iowa Department of Human Rights
Lucas State Office Building 321 E 12th Street | Des Moines, IA 50319
515-242-5640 or 1-800-351-4659
Contact Us Form