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Concerns about contacting Iowa Workforce Development:  1) By Phone:  When you call 1-866-239-0843 and after the call connects, you will hear a greeting and be provided a menu with options for the assistance you require. Once you make a selection, you will hear a phone ringing for 3-5 minutes. After the ringing has stopped, the phone will most likely go silent until your call is answered. The ringing and silence are a part of their phone system and they are unable to change these features at this time. Please stay on the line and they will answer your call as quickly as possible. Expect long wait times. Your call will be answered quicker if you simply remain on the phone versus hanging up and trying again. They apologize for the inconvenience. IWD is committed to helping all of our citizens. Please remain on the line and you will be helped. 2) By Email:  If you need help with a claim, email with your questions to uiclaimshelp@iwd.iowa.gov This email box is cleaned out nightly.

Extended Closures: The following businesses have also been closed (in addition to the ones listed in previous newsletters): golf course clubhouses, however food maybe provided as takeout and service to the golf course may still be conducted, cabins at state parks, door-to-door sales, and adult entertainment establishments. Malls are required to close except if a retail business has an entry to the outside, that business may remain open as long as it is of a kind that has not been previously closed. An exception to the campground closure is for long-term or permanent tenants who live there.

Enforcement of the Governor’s Closure Orders: Law enforcement’s first priority will be to simply disperse large groups and only issue tickets if initial efforts to disperse are unsuccessful.

Dr. Fauci’s Support:  Governor Reynolds reports that Dr. Fauci, President Trump’s infectious disease expert, is 100% supportive of the guidance and actions she has taken in Iowa to protect people from getting the coronavirus.

Update on Campgrounds: The Governor’s latest proclamation closes all private and public campgrounds, cabins, yurts, lodges, shelters, visitor centers, museums, and all outdoor playgrounds through April 30. Those with reservations will be contacted directly by the Iowa DNR. State parks, forests and preserves remain open during this time for day-use opportunities, but visitors are reminded to strictly abide by the social distancing rules and not gather in groups. Bring supplies from home including disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and other hygiene products. All restroom facilities, including pit latrines and port-a-potties, are closed until April 30th as well.

Business insurance coverage questions: Submit an inquiry at https://iid.iowa.gov/insurance-consumer-complaint. This allows the Insurance Division to pull the specific insurance coverage contract from the database and perform a thorough regulatory analysis.

Transportation Weight Limits Extended:  The 90,000-lb. weight limit on state roads is extended through April 30th for the following types of loads:  vaccines, anti-virals, prescription drugs, protective medical equipment, medical supplies, cleaning products, household goods, agricultural supplies, and commodities.

Clarification on Auctions:  All auctions with more than 10 people present in person are prohibited, except for livestock auctions that only include food animals, so long as there are no more than 25 people present in person.

People who remain inside parked cars, trucks, or other enclosed motor vehicles shall not be counted in considering the number of people present, provided all people remain inside the vehicle at all times, and the vehicle remains enclosed with all windows, sunroofs, and convertible tops closed.

Foreclosures and Renter Evictions:  To clarify, all foreclosures on residential, commercial, and agricultural property and evictions for renters are suspended. People are still required to pay rent, mortgages, and leases. Landlords can still add late charges and other financial penalties as listed in the contract. This just prevents people from losing their homes while the emergency order is in place. Once the order expires and if not extended, landlords will have the full force of law to evict and seek payment of rent.

Health Care Providers Professional Licensing:  More clarification: Requirements for in-person continuing education, license expiration and renewal, and background checks for health care providers are being loosened. Also, restrictions on medical professionals from other states, on medical and health care student graduates, and on medical professionals with inactive or expired licenses, are being loosened, but exceptions apply. Requirements for various experiences for mental health counselors, independent social workers, psychologists, and pharmacists are being waived. Please check with your applicable professional licensing board for the changes that may apply to you.

Health Care Facility Certificate of Need:  The requirement for a health care facility to obtain a certificate of need before expanding bed capacity is waived.

Health Care Facilities:  Regulations are being loosened for health care facilities, such as nursing homes, residential care facilities, and assisted living facilities.

Is COVID-19 Transmitted through Food Packaging??:  According to numerous food safety and nutrition and wellness experts, there is no evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted through food and food packaging. In addition, according to the CDC, currently there is no evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted through imported goods and there are no reported cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. associated with imported goods. COVID-19 is a virus that causes respiratory illness and not food poisoning and foodborne exposure to this virus is not known to be a route of transmission. The specialists agree there is no need to clean and/or sanitize food packaging or use detergent to wash food to prevent contamination of the virus. In fact, using detergent to wash food can make a person sick, they say. Handwashing and social distancing remain the top recommendations for consumers to remain safe.

IPERS: As of February 14, IPERS had an estimated value of $36 billion. Due to the economic downturn related to COVID-19, the pension system had lost $6.4 billion by March 20th leading to the valuation of approximately $29.6 billion. Since March 20th, IPERS has recovered by nearly $2 billion to a value of $31.5 billion. This number is a 12.5% (or $4 billion) drop to the trust fund portfolio since the end of the 2019 calendar year. Based on the recent upturn in the stock market, the IPERS trust fund is recovering in the right direction. The IPERS trust fund currently serves 368,000 members and pays out $2.2 billion in benefits annually. $1.9 billion that is paid into Iowa.

School District Start Date:  There is discussion that since students will miss many days of school whether the school district start date of August 23rd should be waived and allow schools to start August 1st. No decision has been made.

Keep Updated:  For more detailed information and guidance on the coronavirus emergency in Iowa, go to this website:  https://coronavirus.iowa.gov/
More information on assistance for small businesses can be found at IowaBusinessRecovery.com.

Gov. Reynolds is holding regular press conferences to keep the public informed on the state’s response. These press conferences are held at 11:00 a.m. Sunday through Friday. You can watch on the Governor’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/IAGovernor/
A status report of monitoring and testing of COVID19 in Iowa is provided by IDPH and can be found here. Also, a public hotline has been established for Iowans with questions about COVID-19. The line is available 24/7 by calling 2-1-1 or 1-800-244-7431.

Wash hands, social distance, keep praying, stay home (if possible), stay well, stay healthy, stay hopeful!! God will help us! Blessings!

Sandy Salmon

Author: Sandy Salmon