COVID-19: The latest developments
State health officials Tuesday evening confirmed the first death in Iowa related to COVID-19.
The Iowa Department of Public Health said the individual was an older resident of Dubuque County, 61-80 years of age.
“Our hearts are heavy with the first loss of an Iowan to COVID-19. The thoughts and prayers of our state are with the family during this difficult time,” Gov. Kim Reynolds said in a statement. “I continue to urge all Iowans to protect their health and the health of others, especially older individuals and those with chronic health conditions who are most at risk. We all have a role to play in limiting the spread of this virus.”
A public hotline for Iowans with questions about COVID-19 is available 24/7 by calling 211.
The Iowa Department of Public Health as of Wednesday morning reported 145 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Iowa, including seven in neighboring Dallas County and one in Carroll County. None were in Greene County.
The Iowa Department of Public Health has also issued a call for businesses and organizations to donate personal protective equipment, or PPE, by contacting their local public health department and the county emergency management agency.
Any type of health care PPE is welcomed, especially gloves, gowns, eye protection and masks.
• Despite rumors on social media, Iowa’s hunting and fishing regulations aren’t affected by the COVID-19 health emergency, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources announced.
The DNR said Tuesday it has no plans to eliminate seasons, relax regulations or change license prices.
“We balance the long-term sustainability of Iowa’s natural resources with the well-being of Iowans, and will continue to take a thoughtful, science-based approach to Iowa’s hunting and fishing laws,” the DNR stated.
• Gov. Reynolds on Monday announced the launch of a new Iowa Small Business Relief Program that will provide financial assistance to small businesses economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program offers eligible small businesses grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000, in addition to offering Iowa businesses a deferral of sales and use or withholding taxes due and waiver of penalty and interest.
A dual application for grant assistance and tax deferral is available at www.iowabusinessrecovery.com. The deadline for applications is noon March 31.
In addition, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) issued a disaster declaration for the state of Iowa as of Jan. 31.
It allows pandemic-impacted small businesses and private, nonprofit organizations to apply for low-interest support loans to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills.
Apply at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/
• Jefferson Telecom this week announced free Wi-Fi hotspot locations around the community in order to keep people connected.
Free Wi-Fi is now available in the Greene County High School parking lot; at the Greene County Fairgrounds; the Milwaukee Railroad Depot; on the west and east sides of the Square; and outside Jefferson Telecom, 105 W. Harrison St.
To log on, click on your device’s Settings and click on “Jefferson Telecom Wi-Fi.” The only field that will need completed is the “Free Access” field. Enter an email address and sign on.
• While the Jefferson Public Library is closed to foot traffic until further notice, the library is offering car-side and home delivery service of library materials.
Call or email the library from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays, to arrange for books and DVD movies, magazines, audiobooks, jigsaw puzzles and board games.
The library also offers free 24-hour Wi-Fi access in its parking areas; no password is needed.
• Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate on Monday extended the absentee voting period to 40 days for Iowans who choose to vote by mail in the June primary.
Pate is encouraging Iowans to cast ballots by mail in response to COVID-19. He said polls are still expected to be open June 2.
Absentee voting for mailed ballots in the primary will begin April 23. Absentee ballots can be requested from a county auditor.
• The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced it is actively monitoring the market for any firms marketing products with fraudulent coronavirus (COVID-19) diagnostic, prevention and treatment claims.
The agency is beginning to see unauthorized fraudulent test kits that are being marketed to test for COVID-19 in the home.
At this time, the FDA has not authorized any test that is available to purchase for testing yourself at home for COVID-19.
• Bomgaars on Friday implemented revised hours of 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, but will keep normal hours on Sundays.
Stores will be increasing measures to clean and sanitize each evening.
In addition, curbside and carryout service is now available at all Bomgaars locations. Customers are encouraged to call ahead with “what you need” and stores will have it ready and waiting.
• Alliant Energy announced it is temporarily suspending disconnections for customers in Iowa during the public health emergency.
In addition, late fees in Iowa will be waived to help customers who are suffering financial hardships.
Customers of Alliant are encouraged to set up payment plans based on their ability to pay.