COVID-19 in Iowa

Last Update

Help for Iowans

Federal payments to individuals

The federal CARES Act includes direct payments to individuals. IRS will post complete details at irs.gov/coronavirus as it becomes available. Here are the basics:

  • The income levels are based on 2019 tax returns, if those have already been filed with the federal government. If 2019 returns have not been filed, the government will use 2018 returns.
  • There is no need to apply; payment will be sent automatically.
  • The bill does include those who receive Social Security retirement or disability payments.

Find out how much you will get using this calculator from the Tax Foundation:

Unemployment

  • Unemployment resources and FAQs
  • Iowans can now apply for assistance under the federal CARES Act. Iowa Workforce Development announced April 6 that it is preparing to pay unemployment benefits as quickly as possible. Claimants can expect to be paid in about 10 days.
  • Claimants can file for unemployment insurance online or by phone at 1-866-239-0843.
  • Questions may be submitted via email to uiclaimshelp@iwd.iowa.gov.

Worker rights

The University of Iowa Labor Center addresses new challenges facing workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Topics its Iowa Workers Rights During COVID-19 publication include:

  • Health and safety at work
  • Lay offs, reduced hours and lost income
  • Leave from work to protect health and safety

Small businesses

Nonprofits

  • The Independent Sector offers tips for how to apply for nonprofit relief funds under the federal CARES Act. Complete details.
  • Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation has committed $500,000 for a COVID-19 Nonprofit Emergency Operating Relief Fund. Operating grants of up to $10,000 are available to Iowa nonprofits focused on providing health and wellness services during this crisis, or addressing food insecurity needs. Complete details.
  • ICUF Emergency Relief Fund provides assistance with to credit union members with one-time $500 grants to small business owners and individuals who are experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding will also go toward state-wide relief efforts. Complete details.
  • Look for SBA loan and grant opportunities for nonprofits under the federal CARES Act. Here is a summary from Nonprofit Quarterly.

Student learning

The Iowa Department of Education has resources for student learning during school closures. Designed for preK-12, the resources include interactive games, virtual field trips, coding activities and e-books to help students practice and enrich the skills and strategies taught by their teachers. 

Student meals

Making it easier to get food to students who need it, children do not have to be present when caregivers pick up meals at Iowa’s 303 approved Grab and Go meal sites under the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program. The program aims to remedy childhood food insecurity by providing nutritious meals and snacks to children age 18 and under in low-income areas during school closures due to COVID-19.

Legal Aid

  • COVID-19 Legal Information Hotline: 1-800-332-0419. This is a service for Iowans facing legal issues due to the COVID-19 emergency, including eviction, denial of unemployment benefits, employment issues, identity theft and more. Callers will leave a message, and Iowa Legal Aid staff will call them back to screen them for eligibility. Those who are eligible for Iowa Legal Aid’s free legal services will be connected with an attorney; those who are not eligible for free services will be connected with volunteer attorneys.

Iowa Concern Helpline

This is a difficult time for many. Don’t sacrifice your well-being to stress and uncertainty. Iowa State University Extension provides confidential access to stress counselors and other resources, 24/7 at no charge. Call 800-447-1985, or go to extension.iastate.edu/iowaconcern/ to live chat one-on-one in a secure environment.

Child care

Take action

Volunteer

Donate blood

The ripple effects of the COVID-19 outbreak are having an immediate impact on the state’s blood supply. 

Donating blood is SAFE—and right now, Iowa needs more donors! All healthy individuals are encouraged to donate blood.

Find a donation location:

Prepare to vote absentee

For the June 2 primary, the Iowa Secretary of State will send absentee ballot requests to each active registered voter in Iowa, and the forms will be postage paid for return mailing to County Auditors.

You must complete an absentee ballot request form and return the original, signed form to your county auditor. The request form does not need to be witnessed or notarized.

Federal response

On March 24, Iowa received approval for a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration for COVID-19, removing a cap on available federal funds and making our state eligible for the Community Disaster Loan program

FEMA announced April 6 that more than $44 million will be coming to Iowa for reimbursement of expenses related to the COVID-19 response.

Coronavirus Guidelines for America

  • The White House Coronavirus Task Force issued updated guidelines to help protect Americans during the global Coronavirus outbreak. The initial 15 Days to Slow the Spread campaign has been extended by 30 days, through the end of April. Click through for 30 Days to Slow the Spread guidelines.
  • Up-To-Date Information: The most up-to-date, verified information and guidance can be found via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Coronavirus Disease 2019 website – www.coronavirus.gov.
  • Disaster Response and Recovery Primer: Response and recovery efforts are locally executed, state managed, and federally supported. It is important that requests for assistance, including for critical supplies, get routed through the proper channels as soon as possible. Learn more about the response and recovery process via this important resource – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: Response and Recovery Through Federal-State-Local-Tribal Partnership. FEMA’s public assistance guidance for COVID-19 response efforts can be found here.
  • Coronavirus Fact vs. Myth: Rumors can easily circulate within communities during a crisis. FEMA setup a website to help the public distinguish between rumors and facts regarding the response to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Social Media Resources: Follow the White House on Twitter and Facebook. Also follow HHS (Twitter/Facebook) and CDC (Twitter/Facebook) You can also find informational videos from Coronavirus Task Force members on mitigation, social distancing, etc. on the White House’s YouTube page.
  • Fraud & Scam Protection: The Department of Justice is remaining vigilant in detecting, investigating, and prosecuting wrongdoing related to the crisis. Find out how you can protect yourself and helpful resources on DOJ’s Coronavirus Fraud Prevention website. The Federal Trade Commission has also established a website with helpful information to help consumers avoid coronavirus-related scams.
  • Administration Actions and Federal Agency Resources: USA.gov is cataloging all U.S. government activities related to coronavirus. From actions on health and safety to travel, immigration, and transportation to education, find pertinent actions here. Each Federal Agency has also established a dedicated coronavirus website, where you can find important information and guidance. They include: Health and Human Services (HHS), Centers of Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Department of Education (DoED), Department of Agriculture (USDA), Small Business Administration (SBA), Department of Labor (DOL), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of State (DOS), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of the Interior (DOI), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Commerce (DOC), Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Department of the Treasury (USDT), Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), and U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC).

CARES Act

The CARES Act, passed by Congress and signed into law March 27, builds on the two former pieces of federal legislation by providing more robust support to individuals and businesses. The Tax Foundation gives a good synopsis of what’s in the $3.2 billion relief plan: https://taxfoundation.org/federal-coronavirus-relief-bill-cares-act/

What the CARES Act does for Education

The National Education Association has compiled an overview of how the CARES Act impacts Education. Read it here.

Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers

Read updated guidelines on who are considered Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers released March 28, 2020.

The “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce” advisory list is intended to help State, local, tribal and territorial officials protect their communities, while ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security.

Announcements from federal agencies

The National Conference of State Legislature’s is tracking the impact federal agency announcements related to COVID-19 that may impact states.

State response

The state’s response to the coronavirus outbreak is quickly evolving, with decisions being made and changes implemented by the hour. A dedicated website is established at coronavirus.iowa.gov.

Public health focus

The most important updates for Iowans will come from the Iowa Department of Public Health, which is the lead agency addressing the coronavirus outbreak.

Here are key IDPH resources on COVID-19:

A public hotline for Iowans with questions about COVID-19 is available 24/7 by calling 2-1-1 or 1-800-244-7431.

Find the latest from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at coronavirus.gov

Find your local public health agency at idph.iowa.gov/lphs/local-public-health-agencies

Legislature’s emergency action

The Legislature voted March 16 to shut down for 30 days to limit the spread of COVID-19. This measure is prudent, given the how busy the State Capitol building is during session.

Before adjourning, we passed SF 2408, authorizing expanded emergency powers for the Governor to address the situation as it unfolds. Additional state resources, supplies, equipment and materials have been authorized to cope with the fallout from this public health disaster. Read a summary of what is included in this legislation at wp.me/p8aBRy-7qk.

Disaster declarations

The Governor has issued several declarations of state Public Health Disaster Emergency: March 17, March 22, March 26, March 31, April 2, April 6. Here is a summary of what they entail:

Public restrictions

  • Restaurants may only offer carry out, drive through and delivery. Dine-in is not permitted.
  • Gatherings and events of more than 10 people are prohibited. This includes social, community, spiritual, religious, recreational, auction, leisure and sporting events.
  • Mandatory closures are in place for bars; gyms and pools; theaters and performance venues; casinos and gambling facilities; adult day services and senior centers; salons, spas, barbershops, tattoo establishments, tanning facilities, massage therapy establishments; malls; social / fraternal clubs; golf course clubhouses; bingo halls, bowling alleys, pool halls, arcades / amusement parks; libraries, museums, zoos / aquariums; race tracks; roller- or ice-skating rinks / skate parks; outdoor / indoor playgrounds or children’s play centers; campgrounds; tobacco, cigarette, cigar / vaping stores; toy, game, music, instrument, movie and adult entertainment establishments; and all non-essential retail stores. 

State agencies

  • State agencies have been instructed to develop plans to aid in this time of emergency, including potential financial support, regulatory relief and other steps.
  • All state agencies will continue to assist the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management in preventing, containing and mitigating the effects of the COVID-19 virus. 

Health care

  • Health facilities have been given additional flexibility to provide medical assistance and treatment. 
  • Health care professionals have been given additional flexibility to provide health care services, including increasing access to telehealth or telemedicine services, removing certain licensing barriers and preventing the expiration of professional and facility licenses during the disaster.
  • Elective and nonessential medical and dental procedures are suspended.
  • Hospitals, nursing facilities, intermediate care facilities, residential care facilities, hospice programs and assisted living programs must screen all staff for health concerns at the beginning of their shift.

Drivers and transportation

  • Legal drivers (including CDL holders) whose licenses expire during the emergency proclamation (or in the 60 days prior to the proclamation) may wait until it is lifted to renew.  
  • Vehicle registrations, registration cards and registration plates that expire during the emergency proclamation (or in the 60 days prior to the proclamation) may wait until it is lifted to renew.  
  • Car buyers may wait until the emergency proclamation is lifted to apply for a new registration and certificate of title.
  • Restrictions on oversize and overweight loads of food, medical supplies, cleaning products and other household goods operation on state and local roads are adjusted. A permit will not be required if loads do not exceed 90,000 pounds gross weight, do not exceed the axle weight limit of 20,000 pounds, and comply with posted limits on roads and bridges.
  • Hours of service for motor carriers and drivers of commercial motor vehicles are suspended while transporting vaccines, antivirals, prescription drugs, protective equipment and other necessary medical assets.
  • Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) holders in Iowa who have an expired medical examiner’s certificate or a certificate that is about to expire will not have their CDL downgraded during the COVID-19 emergency.

Other provisions

  • Retailers are not required to redeem empty beverage containers for the duration of the disaster emergency.
  • Allows remote witnessing and notarization of certain legal documents. See guidance from the Iowa Secretary of State.
  • All foreclosures on residential, commercial and agricultural real property are suspended.
  • Permits to carry weapons and permits to acquire will not expire during the declaration.
  • Iowa’s disaster declaration triggers the state’s price-gouging rule. It is illegal to raise prices unreasonably, though prices may be somewhat higher than normal because sellers also often incur increased costs during times of emergency.  
  • Door-to-door sales are prohibited.

Key state agency updates

Links to state departments and state agencies, their websites and social media can be found at directory.iowa.gov/social.

The Legislative Services Agency is publishing informational updates and analyses on a variety of COVID-19-related topics legis.iowa.gov/publications/fiscal/fiscalUpdate.

Department of Human Services

  • See the latest DHS news.
  • COVID-19 resources: dhs.iowa.gov/COVID19
    • Facilities have increased screening, suspended in-person visitation and are putting in place additional cleaning and sanitation. Options such as FaceTime and Skype are available for family members and guardians who wish to see and speak with their loved ones.
    • Call ahead before visiting DHS offices. The assistance you seek may be available by phone. Visit dhs.iowa.gov for more on DHS services.
    • Child protections – DHS is developing strategies to identify children who may be at particular risk during this stressful time.
    • Social workers are receiving tools to be more mobile and to adapt as the situation unfolds, while protecting the health of all involved.
    • DHS is evaluating cash, food and medical assistance benefit packages to ensure Iowans have access to essential supports.
  • Food: Comprehensive plan to ensure Iowans have enough to eat.
  • Child care: dhs.iowa.gov/childcare-covid-19
    • DHS is putting policies in place to ensure continued access to child care, as it is critical to maintaining the operation of government, health care and other necessary services.
    • DHS will pay child care providers who receive child care assistance based on enrollment, not on attendance, to ensure they have a stable income to continue operating.
    • DHS is exploring ways to expand access to child care.
    • DHS will provide financial assistance to providers to meet health and safety standards.

Department of Transportation

Link to the DOT Covid-19 website with FAQ (updated nightly with federal and state changes): iowadot.gov/covid-19/Public-Response

All services at Iowa DOT service centers are only available by appointment. The goal is to limit community spread of COVID-19. Appointments can be made online at iowadot.gov/mvd/other-appointments or by calling 515-244-8725.

Customers wishing to receive services at a county-operated facility should contact them directly. Find their contact information at iowadot.gov/mvd.

CDLs

The Iowa DOT will review applications and issue restricted CDLs remotely and mail them out. If you need to obtain a restricted CDL, contact cdl.program@iowadot.us.

A restricted CDL may be issued to suppliers of agricultural chemicals, fertilizer, seed or animal feeds to operate a Class B or Class C vehicle for up to 180 days per year. For more information: iowadot.gov/mvd/CDL/Restricted-CDL

Additional guidance for CDL holders can be found here.

Department of Education

The Iowa Department of Education has issued guidance for school districts, addressing such issues as online learning, school meals, students with disabilities, accountability and assessment, graduation and teacher preparation programs. Find details on DOE’s COVID-19 guidance.

Iowa Attorney General

The Iowa Attorney General’s Office will remain open but will not accept walk-in appointments or other face-to-face meetings until further notice. 

Department of Corrections

DOC institutions have discontinued visits to protect frontline Corrections employees, institutional health care workers, incarcerated individuals and the public. Get DOC updates at doc.iowa.gov/COVID19.

Each incarcerated person now can send 4 free o-mails per week. Their 4 free o-mails refresh every Tuesday. Each incarcerated person now may place one free 5 minute phone call each week. Their free call refreshes every Sunday.

Iowa Public Employment Retirement Systems

IPERS is no longer offering in-person counseling, and is transitioning all group education classes to live-stream events via the Internet. Contact IPERS during business hours, or submit your questions anytime at ipers.org/contact-us or by emailing info@ipers.org.

Iowa Utilities Board

  • IUB has ordered all electric and natural gas utilities to cease disconnection of residential service due to nonpayment until the state’s disaster emergency has ended.
  • The deadline has been extended to May 31 for income-eligible Iowans to apply for limited financial heating assistance through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Contact your local community action agency for eligibility guidelines. 

Department of Natural Resources

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is working with state and local officials to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and assist Iowans during this health crisis. Find out how COVID-19 may impact DNR services, facilities and events.

Campgrounds, cabins closed

The Governor’s April 6 proclamation closes all public campgrounds, cabins and yurts, as well as all outdoor playgrounds through April 30. 

Those with reservations will be contacted directly by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Parks, Forests and Preserves Bureau. 

State Parks, Forests and Preserves remain open for day use, but visitors are reminded to abide the social distancing rules and not gather in groups.

Iowa National Guard

  • The Guard has closed the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum, the Camp Dodge Wellness Center and the USO. All armory and facility rentals are canceled through May 19.
  • Upcoming drill and training periods are postponed, canceled or altered to avoid large crowds.
  • Non-essential travel for service members and federal employees is prohibited. 
  • Telework options are reducing the number of personnel in facilities.
  • Mission essential personnel are maintaining critical functions and operations. 
  • Soldiers are continuing to prepare for upcoming overseas deployments, with screening protocols to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 exposure. 

Iowa Courts

Iowa courts will remain open to the fullest possible extent while protecting public health. Find courts-related COVID-19 updates

Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Susan Christensen has essentially stopped the clock for various legal proceedings to comply with limits on large gatherings.

Child welfare and juvenile justice order

On April 6, the Iowa Supreme Court issued a supervisory order that the Juvenile Court should allow room for exceptions to in person family time. It temporarily authorizes virtual family time in lieu of in person family time. Implementation will be monitored, and on or before May 1, the Court will decide whether to terminate, modify or extend the order. 

Beware of scams

Price gouging

Iowa’s disaster declaration triggers the state’s price-gouging rule. It is illegal to raise prices unreasonably, though prices may be somewhat higher than normal because sellers also often incur increased costs during times of emergency.  

The Iowa Attorney General has created a new form to report price gouging, as the number of reports continues to rise during the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumers can complete the form on the attorney general’s website

6 cyber security tips

Cybercriminals are quick to take advantage of disasters and emergency situations by luring you into sharing sensitive information. Public safety officials offer these tips to protect yourself from malicious online activity:  

1. Keep personal and financial information out of emails, and don’t respond to emails requesting this information.

2. Use extreme caution with email attachments and links if you have any doubt about the sender.

3. Access only trusted online medical resources to ensure the most current, fact-based information about COVID-19. Proactively visit the official CDC website at Coronavirus.Gov.

4. Visit official State of Iowa agency websites and social media accounts, including: 

5. Verify a charity’s authenticity before making donations. Review the Federal Trade Commission’s page on Charity Scams.

6. Stay abreast of U.S. cyber threats to mitigate business risk. Review Risk Management for COVID-19, which is continuously updated to reflect emerging threats.

For more information, as well as how to report Internet crimes, scams or identity theft, go to dps.iowa.gov/covid-19-coronavirus-6-tips-increase-cyber-security.

Beware of investment schemes

The Iowa Insurance Division is alerting investors to be on guard against an anticipated surge of fraudulent investment schemes amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Iowans can contact the Iowa Insurance Division at iid.iowa.gov or 877-955-1212.  

Schemes to watch for

  • Private placements and off-market securities. Scammers will take advantage of concerns with the regulated securities market to promote off-market private deals. Private securities transactions are not subject to review by federal or state regulators, nor are they subject to due diligence by a broker-dealer or investment adviser. Only invest in private offerings if you understand the industry and have independently verified the facts.     
  • Gold, silver and other commodities. Scammers may also take advantage of the decline in the public securities markets by selling fraudulent investments in gold, silver and other commodities that are not tied to the stock market.
  • Recovery schemes. Retail investors should be wary of buy-low sell-high recovery schemes. Investors needs to understand the risks associated with any prediction of future performance and recognize that gains in the markets may not correlate with the profitability of their investments.
  • Get-rich-quick schemes. Scammers will falsely tout their ability to quickly earn guaranteed returns that can be used to pay for rent, utilities or other expenses. They also target retirees and senior citizens, falsely claiming they can quickly and safely recoup any losses to their retirement portfolios. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Replacement and swap schemes. Investors should be wary of any unlicensed person encouraging them to liquidate their investments and use the proceeds to invest in more stable, more profitable products.
  • Real estate schemes. Scammers often promote these schemes as safe and secure. However, real estate investments present significant risks, and changes to the economy and the real estate market may negatively impact the performance of the products.

How to protect yourself

  • Ask questions and research the investment and person offering it. The salesperson and the investment should be properly licensed or registered. This information can be confirmed by the Iowa Insurance Division. Investors also can check FINRA’s BrokerCheck.
  • Don’t fall for phishing scams. Phishing is a type of cyber-attack in which the attacker pretends to be a legitimate organization in order to steal your data or money.
  • There are no miracle cures. Scientists and medical professionals have yet to discover a medical breakthrough or have developed a vaccine or means to cure COVID-19.
  • Avoid fraudulent charity schemes. White-collar criminals may pose as charities soliciting money for those affected by COVID-19. Think with your head and not with your heart. If you want to donate to a cause, you should work with a legitimate, established organization.
  • Be wary of schemes tied to government assistance or economic relief. The federal government may send checks to the public as part of an economic stimulus effort. It will not, however, require the prepayment of fees, the advance payment of a processing fee or any other type of charge. In addition, no federal or state government agency will call you and ask for personal information.