Ed. note: The CBJ is working hard to keep you up to date on the latest coronavirus news. We’re publishing a short roundup each day of notable cancelations, closures, changes and more. Send your tips and releases to news@corridorbusiness.com to help us stay up to date.

Thursday, 4/2/20

The Iowa Department of Public Health has reported 549 confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the state, including 229 in the Corridor. Nine have died, 63 are currently hospitalized and 36 have been discharged and are recovering. As of April 1, there have been 7,304 negative COVID-19 tests in the state. Regularly updated information from the IDPH can be found here.

The Iowa Department of Transportation will now be reviewing applications and issuing restricted commercial driver’s licenses remotely and mailing them to customers. If you need to obtain a restricted commercial driver’s license, contact CDL Program administrators at cdl.program@iowadot.us.

The Iowa Restaurant Association has created an industry relief fund to assist hospitality workers displaced by the recent suspension of on-premise dining in Iowa restaurants and bars. According to a recent study by the organization, 82% of restaurants and bars in Iowa have already laid off employees due to the on-premise shutdown put in place on March 17. The association projects tens of thousands of Iowa hospitality workers will be affected by the layoffs. Donations can be given online.

Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa is now offering telehealth appointments for most primary and specialty care clinics. Patients can connect with their providers by computer or mobile devices via PCI’s patient portal. Patients calling to schedule or reschedule appointments will be given the option to utilize telehealth, if the technology can be applied to their unique situation. For more information about telehealth at PCI, call (319) 247-3010 or log into your PCI portal account by going to pcofiowa.com and clicking “Patient Portal Login.”

Four Oaks Family and Children’s Services has expanded its telehealth services statewide to continue youth and family programs during the coronavirus pandemic. These expanded services will ensure youth and families maintain access to mental health care, housing support and other holistic services. The organization’s annual Four Oaks Golf Classic at the Cedar Rapids Country Club has also been rescheduled for Aug. 3.

Mount Mercy University’s Business and Leadership Graduate Programs has announced a new virtual lecture series on strategies for working and leading from home. Upcoming sessions include “Staying Motivated While Working from Home,” on April 22, and “Leading Remotely” on May 6. To RSVP, click here.

Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield has announced it will waive members’ cost-share related to the treatment of COVID-19 (copay, coinsurance and deductible) when seeking care from an in-network provider, effective Feb. 4 through at least June 16. This applies to all Wellmark fully-insured and Medicare Supplement members. Wellmark will work with self-funded groups that want to implement similar benefits for their members.

Previous cancellations, closures and changes are listed alphabetically by category.

 

Arts & Culture

Brucemore has temporarily ceased public programming through April 16 and greatly reduced office hours to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. During this time, staff will be checking voicemail and email intermittently.

The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art will be closed until further notice.

The Coralville Center for the Performing Arts will be closed through April 12. As that date approaches, a decision will be made regarding re-opening. All public and private events scheduled during that period are cancelled and updated ticketing and refund information will be appearing soon on the CCPA website.

FilmScene in Iowa City has announced it will close its two locations through April 2. All planned programming will be canceled or rescheduled.

Theatre Cedar Rapids is closed until May 15 and launching new plans for the remainder of its 2019-2020 season. Production dates for all programs are being updated, and ticket holders will be notified directly so that necessary exchanges may be made seamlessly. In addition, the theater has also suspended walk-up box office service until further notice.


 

Business

Alliant Energy and MidAmerican Energy have announced the suspension of disconnects for non-payment during the public health emergency. Both companies’ crews will continue to respond to all emergency calls, but other non-emergency work will be limited or postponed, if possible. Alliant Energy and MidAmerican crews will take extra precautions when it’s necessary to be indoors on a customer’s property.

Alliant Energy has also donated $42,500 to local United Way organizations in response to the coronavirus pandemic, including to the United Way of East Central Iowa. This is in addition to the $100,000 the company donated last week to relief efforts in Iowa and Wisconsin.

Banks and credit unions announcing the closure of their lobby services include Bankers Trust, Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust, Farmers State Bank, First Federal Credit Union, GreenState Credit Union, Hills Bank, Linn Area Credit Union, MidWestOne Bank, Ohnward Bank & Trust and Veridian Credit Union.

Drive-up services are available at most branches, but customers will need to reach out for appointments for in-person transactions or safe deposit box access. Customers are also encouraged to make use of online banking services.

The Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance is cancelling or postponing events through May 12. The Economic Alliance office is also closed to outside visitors, but members may still reach out with questions to (319) 398-5317 or economicalliance@cedarrapids.org.

Discount retailer Dollar General has announced it will provide all medical personnel, first responders and activated National Guard members with a 10% discount until April 30. Individuals can present their employment badge or ID to receive the discount.

The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in downtown Cedar Rapids has temporarily suspended all hotel operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Elite Casino Resorts, which voluntarily closed all resort operations on March 16, will be closed through April 7 as mandated by Gov. Kim Reynolds. The ELITE Sportsbook continues to operate for mobile sports wagering and online at www.elitesportsbook.com. Many of the concerts and events have already been rescheduled. Elite Casino Resorts will honor any March and April birthday offers through June.

Fairfax State Savings Bank in Fairfax and Bankhaus in Amana, will adopt the following hours and have their drive-throughs only open from: Monday-Thursday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 9-11a.m. The lobby will be open by appointment only.

The Hotel at Kirkwood Center and Iowa City’s downtown Graduate Hotel have announced temporary closures. The Hotel at Kirkwood says it plans to re-open April 6, while the Graduate, part of a chain of 22 boutique hotels, has left its reopening date indefinite.

ImOn Communications reminds citizens that it offers free community internet to those who may not have it. ImOn’s free community Wi-Fi is available at NewBo City Market, McGrath Amphitheatre, and the downtown area of Cedar Rapids, as well as at Guthridge, Tucker and Clark Parks in Hiawatha and the Ped Mall in Iowa City.  Users should be able to access these networks outdoors or even from their vehicles to enable social distancing.

The Iowa City Area Business Partnership has announced its office will close through March 30. During this closure, staff will be available by phone, (319) 337-9637, or email info@iowacityarea.com. The MERGE building will be closed as well during this time.

The Iowa City Area Development Group has announced it will cancel or postpone all ICAD events through April 3. Both MERGE and CoWork at 808 in Coralville will be closed until March 30. Full-time members will be able to access their office, but everyone is being encouraged to work from home and there will be no public access.

Iowa City Area Development Group, Iowa City Area Business Partnership, Think Iowa City and the Iowa City Downtown District have collaborated to create a new website which will provide continuing updates and resources around the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit https://icareatogether.com to learn more.

The Marion Chamber of Commerce and Marion Economic Development Corp. will both be closed to the public. The organizations are in regular communication with the business community and can be reached by phone, email or through their respective websites www.marioncc.org or www.medcoiowa.com.

Mediacom and Centurylink are among the Iowa IT providers taking the FCC’s “Keep Americans Connected Pledge,” a commitment not to terminate residential or small business accounts, waive late fees, and open WiFi hotspots to those that need them for the next 60 days.

MidWestOne Bank has announced new programs to provide assistance to its retail and business customers, available through April 30. They include early withdrawals from certificates of deposits, hardship assistance loans, payment extensions and more. Information is available here.

MidWestOne Financial Group has announced that its 2020 annual meeting of shareholders, previously scheduled to be held April 16 at 2 p.m. at the Graduate Iowa City, will now be held at the MidWestOne Bank location at 102 S. Clinton St. In light of health risks to attending any public meeting at this time, the company encourages shareholders to vote and submit proxies in advance of the meeting in lieu of attending the meeting in person. Call-in details to join a live audio presentation of the meeting are available on the company’s Investor Relations website at www.midwestonefinancial.com.

ProCircular, a Coralville-based cybersecurity firm, is offering a free vulnerability check for the networks of organizations deemed “critical infrastructure” in Iowa and adjacent states. The scans will identify cybersecurity weaknesses that could be exploited by hackers at a time when companies are focused on combatting the spread of this pandemic, according to CEO Aaron Warner. Any organization looking for cybersecurity support can reach ProCircular at www.procircular.com.

Terry, Lockridge & Dunn and World Trend Financial have limited access to the firm’s offices, particularly the lobby and front desk. The offices remain open and staff are available for drop-offs, but the firms are advising clients to use digital means whenever possible.


 

Community

1 Million Cups Cedar Rapids, held every Wednesday, has been canceled until April 8.

The Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance will delay the opening date of the Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers Market, which was originally scheduled for May 23. Organizers are now planning the first market for June 6. The current plan is for all eight markets of the season to still occur, with the rescheduled market to take place on Saturday, Sept. 5, over Labor Day weekend. All markets run from 7:30 a.m. to noon.

Linn County Conservation is temporarily closing its playgrounds and nature playscape, including playgrounds located at Buffalo Creek Park, Morgan Creek Park, Pinicon Ridge Park, and Squaw Creek Park. The Wickiup Wandering Woods nature playscape at the Wickiup Hill Learning Center is also closed. 

The Rotary Club of Cedar Rapids, the popular business club known by many as Downtown Rotary, has canceled its weekly Monday meetings until April 20.

Women Lead Change ICR Iowa Conference will now be a virtual online experience. Registered attendees will receive a link via email to attend the event, which will take place as scheduled April 7-8. Previously announced keynote speakers will speak, virtually, from locations across the country and scheduled breakout sessions will stream live from a studio in Cedar Rapids.


 

Education

Coe College in Cedar Rapids has shifted to online instruction, and is encouraging students to return home by April 5. Accommodations will be made for students with extenuating circumstances to remain on campus in the residence halls. Commencement activities have been cancelled. All nonessential faculty and staff are scheduled to work from home until at least April 10. The college remains operational.

The Iowa City Community School District has established drive-through or walk-up meal pick-up locations at a number of school sites. Students will be provided lunch for the day and breakfast for the following day. Meals will be distributed between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., Monday – Friday. Families are asked to stay in their vehicle and the meals will be brought to them. Meal Pick Up Sites can be found here.

Iowa’s three regent universities have established emergency funds to support students who may be adversely affected by the COVID-19 virus. The funds are intended to address urgent needs as students transition from living and learning on campus to online instruction. Information on funds can be found at ISU Cyclone Strong FundUI Student Life Emergency Fund, or UNI COVID-19 Student Support Funds.

Kirkwood Community College has announced all lecture format classes will continue online for the rest of the semester. All face-to-face classes that are labs and hands-on courses will remain suspended, with more information to come. All college buildings and locations will close their doors through at least April 3, while The Hotel at Kirkwood Center will lock its doors until April 6. All on-site college services, including computer labs and libraries, will be closed March 23-April 3. Most services, such as financial aid, advising, and counseling, will be available to students by email or phone. All college-related travel is suspended through April 10. The college has also cancelled its in-person commencement ceremony. It is planning on holding an online virtual commencement ceremony to celebrate its 2020 graduates. More details will be released soon.

Despite these changes, the college itself is not closing. Kirkwood will still hold classes online and faculty and staff will be available to serve students remotely during this time.

The University of Iowa has announced that classes will be held virtually through the rest of the semester, and that all marketplaces, residence halls and on-campus housing have been closed. The UI also announced that spring commencement ceremonies have been cancelled.

The UI has established the Student Life Emergency Fund to support students who may be adversely affected by the COVID-19 virus and other unforeseen emergencies. You can make a donation here.

All employees outside of UI Health Care have been asked to work remotely unless the critical function they provide must be completed on campus. UI Libraries, the Iowa Memorial Union and Hancher Auditorium are also closed. All Hancher programming for the remainder of the spring semester has been cancelled.

Washington Schools will continue offering free lunch for kids age 1-18. Order information and meal pickup sites can be found here.


 

Government/Municipal

Corridor residents are strongly encouraged to respond to the 2020 Census, which kicked off earlier this month, at 2020Census.gov. You can also respond by phone or mail.

The city of Cedar Rapids has announced several changes and closures in response to COVID-19.

The Cedar Rapids Public Library will be closed to the public, along with all city recreational programs and facilities, excluding administrative offices. City Hall (101 First St SE), City Services Center (500 15th Ave. SW), Cedar Rapids Water Administration (1111 Shaver Road NE), Central Fire Station (713 First Ave. SE), Animal Care and Control (900 76th Ave. Drive SW) and the Cedar Rapids Police Station (505 First St. SW) are also closed. The city is temporarily closing playgrounds and outdoor exercise stations in parks for the health and safety of the public. Parks, trails and dog parks will remain open. In addition, city leaders have canceled all non-essential public meetings that do not require time-sensitive action.

Emergency services continue. Services to the public are still operational and available either online or via phone or email. A drop-box will be installed outside the City Services Center front lobby doors for those dropping off permits, payment, or other paperwork that would normally be dropped off in person at the front counter. A drop-box is also available at the front of City Hall. Visit www.cedar-rapids.org for the most updated information on city schedule modifications and closures.

Park Cedar Rapids has enacted changes in response to the COVID-19 crisis to provide relief and assistance to downtown workers and businesses. Monthly permit parking fees have been waived for April, and on-street parking regulations remain in effect for safety and control purposes only, with enforcement limited to public safety concerns and situations in which violators are significantly impeding businesses or city services. The fee waiver amounts to more than $220,000 in financial relief for April.

The city of Cedar Rapids Solid Waste and Recycling division has adjusted collection procedures to reduce the risk of worker exposure and to limit the need to exit the collection vehicle. Click here for a list of changes.

The city of Coralville has closed City Hall to the public. City services continue to the greatest extent possible, and residents can continue to conduct business with the city by phone at (319) 248-1700, by mail or online at coralville.org. City staff remain available to assist and respond to questions; some services conducted in City Hall may be available by appointment.

The city of Iowa City has declared a civil emergency. The declaration from Mayor Bruce Teague gives the city greater power to “maintain health, welfare, and safety within the community.” One measure gives the Iowa City Police Department the ability to, by criminal citation or arrest, enforce Gov. Kim Reynolds’ State of Emergency orders, including the closing of bars and restaurants, besides delivery or to-go services; the closing of theaters and other event spaces; and the banning of all social, community, spiritual, religious, recreational, leisure, and sporting gatherings of more than 10 people.

The declaration also gives City Manager Geoff Fruin, or his designee, the power to purchase or lease goods and services to help further the response to COVID-19 without the city’s standard competitive procurement procedure.

The Iowa City Public Library is releasing most staff from on-site work assignments through at least April 12 and suspending telephone service in response to the joint Johnson County mayors’ statement urging residents to stay home and limit all non-essential travel. Live chat online is available at https://www.icpl.org/services/ask from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday.  All online resources are available on the library website.

The Iowa Department of Education has released a host of optional resources for families and educators to use as they support student learning during school closures due to COVID-19. The resources are available on the Iowa Department of Education’s website and include interactive games, virtual field trips, coding activities and e-books. The resources cover multiple subject areas, such as literacy, computer science, fine arts, and career and technical education. They are not exhaustive, however, and will be reviewed and updated weekly with additional resources, the department said.

The city of Marion is now under a local state of emergency. The declaration from Mayor Nicolas AbouAssaly authorizes the deployment of all available municipal resources and participation in the Linn County Comprehensive Emergency Plan, increases the city manager’s emergency spending authority, and positions the city for reimbursement of disaster response expenses.

City Hall and all municipal facilities are closed to the general public for a minimum of two weeks, starting March 20. Emergency services will continue, and other city staff will work on-site and remotely to continue offering all essential services. Residents and businesses may conduct city business online, by phone or via email. Find contact information and an overview of service implications here.

All non-essential public meetings and events will be cancelled with any updates or format changes indicated on the city’s online calendar.

The city has also made the decision to temporarily close playgrounds and outdoor exercise equipment in city parks to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Parks and trails will remain open.

The city of North Liberty has closed all buildings to the public until at least April 13. The city will maintain essential services, including water, wastewater, fire and police, as well as continue to provide other services remotely. Utility bills can be paid online or over the phone, and convenience fees will be waived. Additionally, drop boxes are available at City Hall, 3 Quail Creek Circle, and outside the fire station, 25 W. Cherry St.

The city has also closed outdoor play structures to encourage social distancing and slow the spread of COVID-19. Parks, trails and other outdoor public facilities remain open, but the public should continue to practice social distancing and not congregate.

The city has also announced that it will not enforce certain temporary business sign regulations in an effort to assist businesses and restaurants in North Liberty seeking to advertise carry-out and delivery alternatives. Full details of the new regulations are available here. The city says it anticipates revisiting the issue after 30 days.

Congressman Dave Loebsack has closed his offices in Iowa City, Davenport and Washington, D.C. All staff will continue to serve Iowans via teleworking. Iowans will be able to reach the office during normal business hours (8:30 a.m.-6 p.m.) and emails will be monitored on a regular basis.

The Coralville Library and the Coralville Recreation Center will be closed through April 12. All public and private events scheduled in those facilities are cancelled, including recreational programming. Recreation staff will contact all class enrollees or rental patrons regarding options for credits or refunds and will remain available to respond to questions via phone from 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, at (319) 248-1750.

The library will continue to provide services, including eMedia materials through OverDrive (Libby), RB Digital, TumbleBooks, and video streaming services through Kanopy. Access to online databases is also available. Individuals needing assistance with eMedia access or delivery of library books and materials in Coralville should call the library. Due dates will be extended to April 15, and no fines will be charged on materials at this time. During the building closure, library staff will be available 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday; and noon-4 p.m. on Sunday at (319) 248-1850 or reference@coralville.org.

The East Central Iowa Council of Governments (ECICOG) has announced the cancellation of its March board meeting and the closing of the ECICOG office until April 10, at which point the group’s management team will reevaluate. Staff remain available by email.

Gov. Kim Reynolds on March 17 issued a State of Public Health Disaster Emergency activating the public health response and recovery aspects of the State Disaster Emergency Plan. The action prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people, effectively closing bars, gyms, theaters and restaurants, other than drive-through, carry-out and delivery.

On March 22, she signed a new proclamation extending the Public Health Emergency Declaration. The new proclamation states that all salons, barber shops, medical spas, massage therapy, and tattoo establishments must be closed through March 31. In addition, the proclamation suspends all foreclosures on residential, commercial, and agricultural real property. The proclamation also provides professional licensing relief to remove barriers who want to step up and serve in medical professions and to prevent the expiration of professional licenses during the disaster.

On March 27, Gov. Kim Reynolds suspended elective and non-essential medical and dental procedures, extended and expanded retail business closures and ordered health care facilities and nursing homes to engage in advanced health care screenings, as part of the state’s continuing State Public Health Emergency Declaration. The retail closings apply to bookstores; clothing and shoe stores; jewelry stores; luggage stores; cosmetic, perfume and beauty supply stores; furniture stores; florists and home furnishing stores. The order further extends existing closures an additional week, until April 7.

On March 31, Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed a new proclamation continuing the State Public Health Emergency Declaration. Bars and restaurants will now be able to provide carry-out or delivery of alcoholic beverages, and the sale of mixed drinks and cocktails for carry-out or delivery, until April 7. It also provides county hospitals greater borrowing flexibility, permits electronic corporate annual meetings, and eases certification requirements for law enforcement officers. The full text of the proclamation is available here.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority has created a fund to support Targeted Small Businesses (TSBs) with zero employees that have been economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program offers eligible small businesses grants ranging from $5,000-$10,000 to businesses that are single owners with no employees that are also TSB certified, or have an application submitted to the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) by April 10, 2020 to become TSB certified. The program will continue to process applications on an ongoing basis until all funds are exhausted. For more details, click here.

The IEDA board has also approved temporarily suspending repayments of loans made through the Iowa Innovation Acceleration Fund. That suspension runs through June 30. Businesses with loans through the fund won’t be required to royalty payments or loan and interest repayments. In addition, interest accrual will be deferred until June 30, said Paul Stueckradt, an IEDA compliance manager.

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. In particular, investors should be wary of investments specifically tied to the threat of COVID-19. Bad actors can be expected to develop schemes that falsely purport to raise capital for companies manufacturing surgical masks and gowns, producing ventilators and other medical equipment, distributing small-molecule drugs and other preventative pharmaceuticals, or manufacturing vaccines and miracle cures. Scammers also will seek to take advantage of concerns with the volatility in the securities markets to promote “safe” investments with “guaranteed returns,” including investments tied to gold, silver and other commodities; oil and gas; and real estate. Iowans can contact the Iowa Insurance Division at iid.iowa.gov or (877) 955-1212.

Iowa’s Office of the Chief Information Officer and the Department of Human Services have created a dynamic map of childcare availability within the state following Gov. Kim Reynolds’ announcement of the importance of childcare availability for essential workers. That map is available here.

The Iowa Small Business Relief Program application deadline is March 31 at noon. The program will provide financial assistance including grants to eligible small businesses ranging from $5,000-$25,000 and tax deferrals to any Iowa businesses that have been economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications and more information are available here.

Iowa Workforce Development has implemented updates to its leave policy for filing unemployment insurance benefits following the enactment of the CARES Act. Employees who are or will be laid off, or are unable to work for reasons related to COVID-19, will no longer be required to use all paid leave prior to being eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. This change is not retroactive and claims will not be backdated prior to the week of March 29, 2020, for new or existing claims by individuals who work for employers.

The policy requiring claimants to use all available paid leave prior to filing for unemployment benefits was necessary to help sustain the Iowa Unemployment Trust Fund, which is funded entirely by employers doing business in Iowa and is the source of all benefit payments to claimants.  The enactment of the CARES Act has provided a significant source of additional funding for claimants, and this policy change reflects the evolving situation. For updates about COVID-19-related information, please visit www.IowaWorkforceDevelopment.gov.

IowaWORKS offices will only be open to customers with an appointment, or to accept identity verification from customers applying for benefits. Call or email IowaWORKS to receive assistance in the safety of your own home at uiclaimshelp@iwd.iowa.gov, or (866) 239-0843. For updates and additional information, visit https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/.

Johnson County has closed governmental buildings, excluding the Johnson County Courthouse, through 11:59 p.m. on April 16. Members of the public are encouraged to join public meetings in one of two ways: Using a computer or electronic device to listen to the live meeting through an internet connection at johnsoncountyia.iqm2.com or by dialing (319) 688-8013 five minutes prior to or during the meeting to join via conference call.

Public comments related to any matter on the meeting agenda can also be emailed or relayed via telephone to the appropriate office or department. County department and office contact information is available here. Those who must attend in person will be greeted at the door by a Johnson County staff member.

Johnson County has also extended the period to pay property taxes until April 16 without accruing late fees. The second installment had been due March 1. To avoid a late fee penalty, payments should be delivered to the treasurer’s office through a mail slot on the door of the Johnson County Administration Building, paid online or postmarked by April 16.

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors asks businesses not affected by Gov. Kim Reynolds’ declaration closing many retail businesses to consider reducing the number of employees physically in the workplace. Based on recommendations from public health agencies, the board is asking businesses to: allow employees who can telework from home to do so; implement staggered shifts and/or rotation of in-office staff; implement flexible sick leave and supportive policies and practices; assess essential functions and the reliance the community has on services or products; establish policies and practices for social distancing; perform additional environmental cleaning and disinfection; use videoconferencing when possible for work-related meetings and gatherings; and consider canceling, adjusting, or postponing work-related meetings or gatherings of more than 10 people that can only occur in-person.

The Linn County Board of Supervisors has declared a formal local state of disaster emergency in response to the novel coronavirus. The emergency declaration is a formal step that authorizes the use of all available municipal and county resources as reasonably needed to assist in the response to COVID-19. Each municipality in Linn County will be able to sign the declaration for their community.

Linn County is extending the closure of most of its facilities until April 7, but that may be modified. County services will remain operational and available to the public either online or via phone or email.

The Metro Library Network, encompassing Cedar Rapids, Marion and Hiawatha, will be closing drop-offs at all Hy-Vee locations and asking patrons to hold onto materials with due dates extended and fines waived. Holds pick up service has also been discontinued.

President Donald Trump has approved Gov. Kim Reynolds’ request for a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration for COVID-19 in Iowa, removing a $5 million cap on federal funds as well as making available the Community Disaster Loan program. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture‘s Rural Development service has taken a number of steps to help rural residents and businesses affected by COVID-19, including housing relief, utilities assistance and deferments for those with USDA Business and Industry loans. For information on specific actions and programs available, click here.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it is aggressively monitoring the market for any firms marketing products with fraudulent coronavirus (COVID-19) diagnostic, prevention and treatment claims. As a result of these activities, the agency is beginning to see unauthorized fraudulent test kits that are being marketed to test for COVID-19 in the home.

The FDA reminds Americans that the administration has not authorized any product for home testing. The FDA sees the public health value in expanding the availability of COVID-19 testing through safe and accurate tests that may include home collection, and it is actively working with test developers in that space.


 

Health Care

Covenant Family Solutions, a Marion-based behavioral health care provider, has announced it is offering free 30-minute phone coaching sessions to help community members struggling with their mental health due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The intent of the coaching sessions is to provide individuals who are not already receiving therapy, an opportunity to talk about how they are feeling and receive tools to help navigate the crisis. Interested individuals can call (319) 261-2292.

The Eastern Iowa Sleep Center in Cedar Rapids is closed until April 5 in order to mitigate the risk of exposure to patients and staff. Services will resume for in-lab and home sleep studies starting April 6, or based on circumstances. Call (319) 362-4433 with questions.

Johnson County Public Health is urging health care offices or health care-related businesses with personal protective equipment (PPE) available for donation to contact Johnson County Emergency Management at (319) 356-6707. Items that are in need include nitrile gloves, procedural masks, N95 respirators, procedurals gowns or coveralls, and face shields.

Mercy Iowa City is now offering telehealth appointments at all of its primary and specialty care clinics located in Johnson, Iowa, Cedar, Washington and Muscatine counties. Patients from throughout its southeast Iowa service area can now connect with their provider by computer or mobile devices. To schedule a Telehealth appointment, call your provider or Mercy On Call at (319) 358-2767 to schedule a telehealth or clinic appointment. A list of Mercy Iowa City clinics is available at www.mercyiowa.city/mercy-clinics.

Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids has established a dedicated clinic to care for patients with respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. Primary care and urgent care patients needing appointments or testing for respiratory illness will be directed by their medical provider to the newly established respiratory illness-only site at MercyCare Marion, 3701 Katz Drive. The hours of the clinic are 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The clinic is available for patients with a referral only and not walk-in appointments. Ancillary services such imaging and testing for COVID-19 are available at the new respiratory illness-only clinic, but COVID-19 testing will be conducted with a physician order and in accordance with Iowa Department of Public Health guidelines.

Patients who seek care for non-respiratory symptoms at MercyCare Marion can be seen as a walk-in appointment with family practice, which is isolated from the respiratory clinic. Those patients can also be sent to MercyCare North Urgent Care.

Physicians Clinic of Iowa in Cedar Rapids is shortening its hours and limiting entry points to its facility due to COVID-19. The measures will only affect the Cedar Rapids campus; PCI’s clinic in North Liberty has been temporarily closed. PCI’s Cedar Rapids campus, including both Medical Pavilions 1 and 2, will adopt an 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday – Friday schedule. Open entrances include both sidewalks from Parking Ramp E, the 10th Street entrance by Caribou Coffee and the covered walkway entrance from Parking Ramp D. Valet parking also remains closed.

Steindler Orthopedic has announced that all elective, non-emergency surgical procedures will be suspended. The clinic will also not schedule elective procedures before May 1, unless the rapidly changing situation allows it. Patients who have surgical procedures scheduled after March 20 will be contacted.

UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids and Mercy Medical Center are calling on the sewing proficient to help make masks for medical personnel. While the facility has an adequate supply of masks, they remain in short supply nationwide and the hospital “is looking to be proactive in addressing the possibility of future supply challenges.” Instructions and more information can be found here or at mercycare.org.

UnityPoint Clinic Westside Urgent Care in Cedar Rapids has become a dedicated respiratory illness clinic as of March 25. Those with symptoms including fever, cough and difficulty breathing will be screened over the phone and advised on next steps, ranging from an appointment at the respiratory illness clinic, a telephonic physician visit, or as appropriate, symptom management at home. UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care Marion and UnityPoint Clinic Express in Hiawatha remain open for patients with no respiratory illness.

University of Iowa Health Care has launched a new helpline staffed 24 hours a day to answer questions about influenza or COVID-19 for health care professionals, as well as members of the community. The helpline, available at (319) 384-8819, is meant to address topics such as preventing illness, keeping workplaces and communities safe, new guidelines from the CDC and the Iowa Department of Public Health; and what UIHC is doing to address COVID-19.

The helpline is not for urgent patient care needs. Anyone with signs or symptoms of the flu or COVID-19 are encouraged to call for a video visit with a UI Health Care provider at (319) 384-9010.

UIHC is also seeking Johnson County restaurants interested in providing food service to retail areas operated by UIHC’s Department of Food and Nutrition Services. The food must be prepared in a restaurant or commercial kitchen licensed by the Johnson County Department of Public Health, and vendors must be able to provide 200 servings of ready-to-consume food at one time during lunch, dinner and 3rd shift windows. Vendors interested in pursuing the opportunity should take this survey.


 

Nonprofits

The Community Foundation of Johnson County has activated its emergency response fund in light of the coronavirus pandemic. This fund will provide flexible resources to nonprofit organizations in Johnson County working with communities who are disproportionately impacted by coronavirus and the economic consequences of this outbreak. Businesses and individuals are invited to make gifts to this fund, which will be pooled together to amplify the collective impact. Donations of any size are currently being accepted at www.CFJC.org or by phone at (319) 337-0483. Checks should be made out to the Community Foundation of Johnson County, with Emergency Response fund in the memo.

The Eastern Iowa Diaper Bank (EIDB) is adjusting hours for access to the bank, which provides free diapers and wipes, to Mondays from 1-5 p.m. and Thursdays from 2:30-5:30 p.m. EIDB, located at 420 Sixth St. SE, #180, in Cedar Rapids, is operating on a drive-thru model. Community members are asked to pull into the alley from Sixth Street, remain in their car, open their trunk and a staff member will assist them. If walking, please walk to the alley to be assisted from a safe, six-foot distance.

The HACAP Food Reservoir in Hiawatha is making changes to its distribution operations. Its Mobile Pantries will move to distribution with pre-boxed food, and clients will be asked to wait in their vehicles to minimize personal contact. Each household is being asked to select one representative to pick up food. The organization encourages all clients to remain in contact with partner agencies and food pantries to stay up to date on changes.

The Indian Creek Nature Center has closed its Amazing Space, Penningroth Barn and Etzel Sugar Grove Farm campuses until further notice. All programs starting March 15 have been canceled or postponed for a later date. The Maple Syrup Festival (scheduled for March 21-22) has also been postponed. If you have purchased a ticket already, it will be transferable to the rescheduled date. For more information, click here.

The Iowa City Animal Care & Adoption Center, 3910 Napoleon Lane, is currently closed but they have started a pet food pantry to help pet owners who are experiencing financial hardship. To request food, pet owners can call the Animal Care and Adoption Center at (319) 356-5295, leaving name, phone number, and the number and types of pets that need food. Staff will then contact the pet owners when the food is ready and can be picked up. To donate food, drop off items at the side door, facing mostly east, between 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Prescription pet food will also be gladly accepted. Financial donations for pet care needs can also be made by contacting local pet store Leash on Life at (319) 354-4334, info@leashonlife.net, or at http://www.leashonlife.net.

The Iowa Credit Union Foundation has launched a new emergency relief fund to assist Iowans in need. Ten credit unions, Affiliates Management Company (holding company for the Iowa Credit Union League) and individual donors, have pledged $500,000 in lead gifts toward the establishment of the fund. These donations will provide support to individuals, small businesses, and state-wide relief efforts. Applications and instructions on how to apply will be available April 1 at www.iowacreditunionfoundation.org/emergency-relief-fund

Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity has postponed or cancelled upcoming builds and events, including all volunteer activities. The organization’s office and ReStore are closed at this time. A detailed list of cancellations and postponements is available here.

Matthew 25 has announced it will temporarily close its Groundswell Cafe, the Tool Library and its offices in Cedar Rapids until further notice.

The Salvation Army of Cedar Rapids has announced that its building will be closed to all outside traffic. Staff will be available to answer questions via phone at (319) 364-9131 from 8:30 a.m.-noon and 1-4:30 p.m. Community meals will continue to be served Monday-Friday, breakfast 8-9 a.m. and Lunch noon-1 p.m., available in a takeaway container through our canteen located in the parking lot. The Salvation Army’s food pantry will remain available for drive-thru pickup only.

Landlords in Iowa City with open units are encouraged to partner with Shelter House’s Rapid Re-Housing team, which provides financial assistance (deposit and rent) to individuals and families immediately. Contact Rachel.lehmann@shelterhouseiowa.org or (319) 338-5416 ext. 211 to find out how to access these funds, as well as support social distancing by moving people out of shelter and into permanent housing.

Table to Table, an Iowa City group focused on collecting and delivering food to hungry residents in Johnson County, has temporarily paused operations to restructure amid the COVID-19 pandemic, due to a critical reduction in volunteers. The organization plans to restart food rescue operations March 26, and is calling for donations and temporary volunteers not in high-risk groups to assist. To volunteer, contact Table to Table at volunteer@table2table.org or call (319) 337-3400.

Tanager Place is accepting new clients of all ages while offering individual, family and group therapy as well as mental health assessments via teletherapy. The move is intended to better serve community mental health care needs during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The initial phase of the temporary service expansion will last for eight to 10 weeks and support short-term community needs.

UI Child Assist is working to match University of Iowa employees in need of no-cost emergency childcare with volunteer childcare providers. Childcare could be provided at the volunteer’s home or the family’s home depending upon the need and agreement between the volunteer and the family. Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age and will be asked to provide two references which may be personal or professional. More information is available here.

United Way of Johnson & Washington Counties is dedicated in the Johnson County Disaster Plan as the coordinator for disaster-related volunteers. The Emergency Volunteer Center has been activated and will connect volunteers with COVID-19 related volunteer needs and opportunities. The community needs and opportunities will be listed on www.covid19volunteers.org. Any volunteers that would like to sign-up should go to the website or call (319) 337-8657. Organizations and individuals that need volunteers should call (319) 337-8657 or email Patti.Fields@unitedwayjwc.org.

The organization has also posted a map of more than 40 locations in and around Johnson County where individuals can get either pre-made meals or find items for their pantry. The map, created by University of Iowa student Russell Martin, includes each location’s operating hours, eligibility to receive aid and other relevant information. That map is available here.

Volunteer Iowa has launched a COVID-19 Response Initiative to help connect healthy individuals with urgent volunteer needs in their communities, and to serve as a portal for organizations to post their volunteer needs. Volunteer opportunities can be found and posted on Volunteer Iowa’s Get Connected site. Volunteer Iowa has also developed guidelines for volunteers and volunteer organizations while under the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.

The Cedar Rapids Metro YMCA has temporarily closed all facilities until further notice. The closures apply to all five YMCA facilities in the metro and YMCA Camp Wapsie.


 

Retail

Coral Ridge Mall in Coralville and the Outlets Williamsburg in Williamsburg have reduced their hours. Coral Ridge Mall will be open Monday-Saturday from noon-6 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Restaurants and bars are closed. The food court will operate delivery and carryout services. Outlets Williamsburg will be open from 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

The Iowa City Downtown District is partnering with downtown restaurants to implement delivery and no-contact pickup services. Local service Chomp is also offering free delivery from many downtown Iowa City restaurants through April. See the full list of participating restaurants here, and use free delivery code ICDD.

Lindale Mall in Cedar Rapids will be temporarily closed until further notice.

New Pioneer Co-op has announced plans to limit store hours from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. The store will also offer a Senior Shopping Hour from 9-10 a.m. on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday mornings to “ensure senior shoppers get what they need before we open to the public.” The CDC has said that the COVID-19 virus is more of a danger for older adults and those with chronic medical conditions.

All Fareway stores have updated their hours to 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. From 8-9 a.m. stores will be open only for customers 65 and older, expecting mothers, those with a serious chronic medical condition and those with an underlying medical condition that increases susceptibility to serious illness from COVID-19.

Hy-Vee has announced new store hours of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week, until further notice, to give employees additional time to clean and sanitize all areas of the store, as well as restock shelves. The chain has also closed all dining areas and Market Grille bars, although food service is still available for carry-out. Hy-Vee also announced it would be transitioning some of its Aisles Online food delivery to third-party partners like DoorDash and Shipt to allow employees to focus on pickup orders and in-store needs. The chain’s weekly advertising circular will be suspended until further notice. Customers will no longer be allowed to bring in reusable bags until further notice as it is difficult to monitor their cleanliness, Hy-Vee said in a statement. 

The grocery store chain will also give its front-line employees a 10% bonus on hours worked from March 16 to April 12, and offer new benefits to its more than 80,000 employees in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The grocery chain is also offering job protective leave for employees who either test positive for COVID-19 and/or are required by health officials to self-quarantine, as well as affordable access to telehealth services, including mental health.


 

Transportation

380Express, the bus line traveling between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, has announced it will temporarily eliminate fares as well as offer additional buses during peak riding times to allow for social distancing. The service is discouraging non-essential travel to avoid exposing ridership to unnecessary risk. Find more information here.

Cedar Rapids Transit has suspended service until April 13 to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Iowa City Transit is making temporary changes to its weekday service, including ending weekday service at 8 p.m. and providing hourly service on most routes using Saturday routes and schedules. Three “weekday” routes will also be added during peak times. Service will continue to be free of charge. City parking decks are also free of charge, although non-essential travel is strongly discouraged. Please visit www.icgov.org/transit or call 319-356-5151 for the most updated information.

The Iowa Department of Transportation has taken several new actions to combat the spread of COVID-19. Until the declared disaster is over, driver’s license holders with an expiration date of Jan. 16, 2020, or later do not have to renew licenses and licenses will remain valid for driving purposes. Vehicle registrations expired Jan. 16, 2020, or later will also be considered valid.

Those purchasing or transferring a vehicle will not be required to obtain a title and registration within 30 days and those purchasing a vehicle from a dealer are not required to obtain license plates within 45 days.

Driver’s license and ID business is being conducted by appointment only at this time. Customers should make appointments online or by calling (515) 244-8725. All non-commercial drive tests will be discontinued and rescheduled to a future date. All customers entering a DOT service center will be asked a series of questions to evaluate their risk of exposure to COVID-19 and exposure to others being served.

Linn County LIFTS Paratransit service will continue to provide rides to existing customers for essential services including medical trips, pharmacy, dialysis or grocery. All other persons in need of essential medical transportation can contact LIFTS at (319) 892-5170 to see if rides are available. Priority will be given to seniors and persons with disabilities. Vehicle capacity will be limited to follow social distancing protocols. Fares will be waived until further notice.

Neighborhood Transportation Service (NTS) at Horizons will be expanding its after-hours service to provide rides to work for those with critical employment transportation needs such as work at hospitals, grocery stores, care facilities and convenience stores/gas stations. To schedule a ride, call (319) 363-1321 at least 24 hours in advance. Fares will be waived until further notice.