COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Resources

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has had a tremendous impact on the lives of nearly every Iowan. One thing is certain, and that is that we are all in this together, not just as community members, but as global citizens.

There is so much information in the national media and social media regarding COVID-19 and in an age of misinformation, I want to make it easy for anyone seeking information as clear and reputable as possible. I am not a healthcare professional, and I do not pretend to be, this page is simply meant to be a place where anyone can get access to accurate, cited, and necessary information regarding the spread and impact of COVID-19.

What is COVID-19 and why does it matter?

How can I protect myself and those around me?

My employment has been affected by COVID-19

Iowans displaced from work because of COVID-19 may be eligible for unemployment benefits after changes were made to help those affected by the outbreak.  If you are laid off due to COVID-19 or have to stay home to self-isolate, care for family members or due to illness related to COVID-19, you can apply for unemployment benefits.

Normal work search requirements under unemployment insurance are waived for those affected; if displaced you will not be required to try and interview or find work while the outbreak is ongoing. If an individual does find work, they will still receive benefits if it pays less than their previous employment. In those cases, Iowa Workforce Development will subtract the money you’ve earned from your expected benefit amount and send you the remaining benefit.

Those eligible will receive their first check in 7-10 days. To apply visit: https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/file-claim-unemployment-insurance-benefits

This information comes directly from Iowa Workforce Development.

My business has been affected by COVID-19

Disaster Loans: Loans for small businesses and nonprofits are available through the Small Business Administration. The application can be found here: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/ For information about the loans visit: https://www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance/coronavirus-covid-19 

Small Business Grants: Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) has grants available for small businesses with 2-25 employees who are experiencing a loss in business due to the coronavirus.  The application is on their website: www.iowabusinessrecovery.com

Tax Deferment: Small businesses, of any size, can apply for a sales tax deferment on the same application: www.iowabusinessrecovery.com

Targeted Small Businesses: Small businesses that qualify for the Targeted Small Business program are eligible for a grant through IEDA.  For more information and qualifications visit: https://www.iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/programDetails?pid=137&ppid=26

Paycheck Protection Plan: Businesses can apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) at any lending institution that is approved to participate in the program through the existing U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) lending program lenders approved by the U.S. Department of Treasury. Program participants must use 75% of the loan for payroll purposes. Applications are now open.  Here are more details: Paycheck Protection Program FAQs. Information comes from https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/COVID-19.

Supplemental Resources: IEDA is updating their website with information for small businesses, including links to other grant and loan programs.  It is a good resource for small businesses: www.iowabusinessrecovery.com     

This information all comes from the links that are attached to the respective paragraph.

What is the United States CARES Act

Overview: Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) is outlining the benefits of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020, which provides unemployment benefits for the self-employed, independent contractors, nonprofit employees, gig economy workers, those who have exhausted other unemployment insurance benefits, and those who may not have sufficient work history to qualify for a regular state claim.  

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC): The FPUC program provides individuals who are collecting regular Unemployment Compensation (UC), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Extended Benefits (EB), Short Time Compensation (STC), Trade Readjustment Act (TRA), Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA), and payments under the Self-Employment Assistance (SEA) program, with an additional $600 per week.  The first week a claimant can be compensated on this benefit is the week beginning March 29, 2020 and the last week is the week ending July 25, 2020.  Our goal is to issue payments in the next ten days to those who are eligible.  Please keep in mind that you cannot quit your job and continue to draw these benefits.  If you refuse to return to work without a documented medical note consistent with the Families First Act, you will be disqualified from ALL benefits including the $600 payment.  Additionally, if your employer receives a loan under the PayCheck Protection Act and places you back on the payroll, full time, you will no longer be eligible for unemployment or FPUC benefits.  

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA): This program provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals who are self-employed, independent contractors, nonprofit employees and gig economy workers, as well as to individuals working part-time, or who otherwise would not qualify for regular UC or EB under state or federal law or PEUC.   A claimant can be compensated with this benefit beginning February 2, 2020, or the first week a claimant was unable to work as a result of COVID-19, whichever date is later.  The last week this benefit is payable is the week ending December 26, 2020. Our goal is to issue payments in the next ten days to those who are eligible.  This benefit also applies to anyone who has exhausted all unemployment insurance payment options at the state or federal level, including the PEUC program.  

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC): The PEUC program provides up to 13 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits to individuals who have exhausted regular unemployment benefits under state or federal law, or have no rights to regular unemployment benefits under state or federal law.  The first week a claimant can be compensated on this benefit is the week beginning March 29, 2020 and the last payable week is the week ending December 26, 2020. 

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): The PPC provides a loan to businesses with fewer than 500 employees to keep their workers on the payroll.  The Small Business Administration will forgive these loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the loan is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.  Employees of businesses that take advantage of the PPP who are recalled to work (or are being paid full-time pay and benefits) are not eligible for unemployment benefits, and if they have a current claim, they should update their claim appropriately to reflect the day they were no longer eligible for unemployment benefits.  For more information on the PPP see: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program-ppp

This information comes directly from Iowa Workforce Development.

What does “Flattening the Curve” mean?

Flattening the curve refers to using protective practices to slow the rate of COVID-19 infection so hospitals have room, supplies and doctors for all of the patients who need care.

A large number of people becoming very sick over the course of a few days could overwhelm a hospital or care facility. Too many people becoming severely ill with COVID-19 at roughly the same time could result in a shortage of hospital beds, equipment or doctors.

On a graph, a sudden surge in patients over a short time could be represented as a tall, narrow curve.

On the other hand, if that same large number of patients arrived at the hospital at a slower rate, for example, over the course of several weeks, the line of the graph would look like a longer, flatter curve.

In this situation, fewer patients would arrive at the hospital each day. There would be a better chance of the hospital being able to keep up with adequate supplies, beds and health care providers to care for them.

This information comes directly from Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Will I receive a stimulus check? If so, when?

Eligibility: Payments up to $1,200 per person, with an additional $500 per child under 17, will be made to U.S. residents with a Social Security number who earn under $75,000. The amount decreases by $5 per every $100 earned after that, zeroing out at $99,000. For married couples, the phaseout range is $150,000 to $198,000.

When: If you have filed your 2019 tax return and opted for direct deposit, you will get yours sooner via direct deposit. Otherwise, the IRS will go based off of 2018 tax returns, if you had direct deposit, you too will receive the funds sooner. Treasury Sec., Mnuchin, said that they are working on a system to allow individuals to upload their Direct Deposit information, but no other information is known at this time. Otherwise, you will be mailed a check which may take longer. For more information on what the IRS is doing to lessen the economic impact of COVID-19 Pandemic, visit: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus.

NOTE: IRS Officials are a little more hesitant on when they believe the funds will go out. It may take longer in some instances.

UPDATE (4/11/2020): The IRS began distributing sums of money on Saturday, April 11, 2020 via direct deposit. You will be able to check the status of your check beginning on April 17th, 2020 via the IRS online tracking tool found here: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments

This information comes directly from Internal Revenue Service.

When will the Iowa restrictions be lifted and economy be re-opened?

On April 27th, 2020, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced her intention to open 77 counties back up beginning May 1, 2020 and begin to lift restrictions on businesses. All other counties have had their restrictions extended to May 15, 2020.

This proclamation excludes the following counties and restrictions still apply: Allamakee, Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Dallas, Des Moines, Dubuque, Fayette, Henry, Iowa, Jasper, Johnson, Linn, Louisa, Marshall, Muscatine, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Tama, Washington, or Woodbury County.

This proclamation permits some businesses in the 77 Iowa counties to reopen in a limited fashion. Businesses that are able to reopen include: restaurants, fitness centers, malls, libraries, race tracks and other retail establishments. This proclamation also lifts restrictions on religious, spiritual, and other small gatherings within reasonable public health measures. For more information on the inclusions and exclusions of the proclamation, visit the Governor’s website, here: https://governor.iowa.gov/press-release/gov-reynolds-signs-new-proclamation-continuing-the-state-public-health-emergency-0

General Restrictions on Businesses able to reopen

(1)  Capacity limited: Businesses must limit the number of customers present at indoor or outdoor spaces to 50% of its normal operating capacity to ensure adequate spacing of groups.

(2)  Groups limited: Businesses must ensure that no group of customers seated together in the restaurant is larger than six people.

(3)  Social distancing: Businesses must ensure at least six feet of physical distance between individuals and groups (this restriction varies by industry)

(4)  Self-service prohibited:  The restaurant must not have any self-service of food or beverages, including buffets or salad bars.

(5)  Social distancing, hygiene, and public health measures: Businesses shall also implement reasonable measures under the circumstances of each restaurant to ensure social distancing of employees and customers, increased hygiene practices, and other public health measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 consistent with guidance issued by the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals and the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Note: This proclamation does not reopen a bar, which must remain closed to the public except as provided in section 2, paragraph A of the Proclamation.

This information comes directly from the Governor’s Website.