Liveblog: 786 Cases Of COVID-19 Confirmed, 3 More Deaths Announced

Iowa businesses, school districts and citizens continue to respond to the escalating COVID-19 pandemic. We'll be posting updates as more news regarding the spread of the virus in Iowa becomes available here for the week of March 29-April 4. 

Do you have questions about how the outbreak is being handled in Iowa? Fill out this form, and we'll try to answer as many of your questions as we can with our reporting. 

Find a map of cases in Iowa by county here. Find more information from the Iowa Department of Public Health here. 

Find a map of cases across the U.S. here. 

Iowa map
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Saturday, April 4

10:49 a.m. - 87 new COVID-19 cases confirmed, 3 more deaths

The state has announced 87 new cases of COVID-19 in the state, bringing the total of confirmed coronavirus cases to 786.

An additional three deaths were also reported: an older adult (61 – 80) from Linn County, a middle-aged adult (41 – 60) from Henry County, and an older adult (61 – 80) from Polk County. The total deaths in Iowa attributed to COVID-19 now stands at 14.

9,454 Iowans have tested negative for the disease.

According to IDPH, the locations and age ranges of the individuals with the new cases Saturday include:

  • Black Hawk County, 1 middle age adult (41-60 years), 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Bremer County, 1 adult (18-40 years) 
  • Clinton County, 1 adult (18-40 years) 
  • Dubuque County, 2 middle age adults (41-60 years)
  • Grundy County, 1 middle age adult (41-60 years)
  • Howard County, 1 adult (18-40 years) 
  • Iowa County, 1 adult (18-40 years) 
  • Jefferson County, 1 middle age adult (41-60 years)
  • Johnson County, 7 adults (18-40 years), 5 middle age adults (41-60 years), 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Keokuk County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Lee County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Linn County, 3 adults (18-40 years), 9 middle age adults (41-60 years), 6 older adults (61-80 years), 2 elderly adults (81+)
  • Lyon County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Mills County, 1 middle age adult (41-60 years)
  • Muscatine County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 3 middle age adults (41-60 years), 1 elderly adult (81+)
  • Plymouth County, 2 adults (18-40 years)
  • Polk County, 1 adult (18-40 years),  4 middle age adults (41-60 years), 4 older adults (61-80  years) 
  • Pottawattamie County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 1 middle age adult (41-60 years)
  • Scott County, 3 adults (18-40 years), 2 middle age adults (41-60 years), 2 elderly adults (81+)
  • Sioux County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 1 older adult (41-60 years)
  • Tama County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 2 older adults (61-80  years), 4 elderly adults (81+) 
  • Van Buren County, 1 older adult (41-60 years)
  • Warren County, 1 elderly adult (81+) 
  • Washington County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 1 middle age adult (41-60 years), 2 older adults (61-80  years) 

Friday, April 3

 3:43 p.m. Gov. Reynolds wants conversation with Iowa Board of Medicine over shelter-in-place recommendation

Governor Kim Reynolds says she wants her team to have a conversation with the Iowa Board of Medicine after it unanimously voted to ask her to issue a formal shelter-in-place order.

Board members are appointed by the governor and oversee physician licensing and regulations.

I would like to have them walk through with our team what we're already doing and what they see or think that maybe we should take a look at outside of the metrics that we're already using to make the decisions that we're making. - Gov. Kim Reynolds

Reynolds says she hasn’t received the board’s letter yet. 

“I am always interested in getting and hearing the feedback of the medical community. But I would like to have them walk through with our team what we’re already doing and what they see or think that maybe we should take a look at outside of the metrics that we’re already using to make the decisions that we’re making,” Reynolds said.

The board’s executive director says members believe a formal order is necessary to ensure Iowans are complying with self-isolation recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Iowa Medical Society, which represents physicians, is also recommending a formal shelter-in-place order.

12:54 p.m. - Iowa Board of Medicine votes unaimously calling for a statewide shelter-in-place order

The Iowa Board of Medicine voted unanimously at an emergency meeting Friday to call for Gov. Kim Reynolds to issue a shelter-in-place order.

Thirty-eight other states already have the restrictive order that requires people only leave their home if necessary. Gov. Reynolds has declined to follow suit saying she has already issued tough restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 such as closing bars, restaurants and schools and restricting gatherings to ten people.

“The board is supportive and believes she's done an excellent job of establishing appropriate safeguards,” said Kent Nebel, the executive director of the Iowa Board of Medicine. “But as the spread of the virus gets worse, I think they believe that she needs to take one step further and issue a stay-at-home or a shelter-in-place order.”

Nebel says the board thinks the order is necessary to ensure people are complying with the recommendations for self-isolation and protect healthcare workers.

“Their concern is that individuals or people are not fully complying with the recommendations for self-isolation,” he said. “And that is increasing the risks to both healthcare providers who are out there providing services and to the public, for spread of the virus.”

Nebel said the decision was made after the Iowa Medical Society sent a letter to Gov. Reynolds recommending that she issue the order for two weeks.

The Board of Medicine’s recommendation did not specify a timeline.

12:12 p.m. – University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics begin clinical trial for experimental drug to treat COVID-19

The hospital started enrolling patients this week to try the antiviral agent remdesivir. There have been promising results in lab tests, but it’s still not clear how safe or effective the drug is for people.

There are currently no FDA-approved treatments specifically for COVID-19. Which is why University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics jumped at the chance to try the drug. As of this week, hospitalized patients with the disease can qualify for the trial, if they don’t have certain liver or kidney issues.

Dilek Ince is a clinical professor of infectious diseases at the hospital. She says patients are willing to try it, but they understandably have questions: “Is it really going to help me? And that’s hard to know, right? So that’s why we tell them, well under lab conditions it seems like this drug should help you, but that’s why we need the clinical trials. Because in the real world we do not know if it’s really going to help.”

Patients around the world are involved in trials of the drug.

10:55 a.m. - 85 new COVID-19 cases confirmed

The state has announced 85 new cases of COVID-19 in the state, bringing the total of confirmed coronavirus cases to 699. There have so far been 11 deaths, and 8,764 Iowans have tested negative for the disease.

According to IDPH, the locations and age ranges of the individuals with the new cases Friday include:

  • Allamakee County, 1 adult (18-40 years)
  • Clayton County, 1 adult (18-40 years)
  • Clinton County, 4 middle age adults (41-60 years), 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Crawford County, 1 middle age adult (41-60), 2 older adults (61-80 years)
  • Dallas County, 2 older adults (61-80 years)
  • Dubuque County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Fayette County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)
  • Henry County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)
  • Jackson County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)
  • Jasper County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Jefferson County, 1 adult (18-40 years)
  • Johnson County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 2 middle-age adults (41-60 years)
  • Linn County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 2 middle-age adults (41-60 years), 5 older adults (61-80 years), 6 elderly adults (81+)
  • Louisa County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Lyon County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)
  • Marshall County, 1 adult (18-40 years)
  • Monona County, 1 elderly (81+)
  • Muscatine County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years), 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • O’Brien County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)
  • Plymouth County, 1 adult (18-40 years)
  • Polk County, 6 adults (18-40 years), 6 middle-age adults (41-60 years), 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Pottawattamie County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Scott County, 4 middle-age adults (41-60 years), 2 older adults (61-80 years)
  • Shelby County, 1 older adult (61-80 years), 1 elderly adult (81+)
  • Sioux County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Story County, 1 adult (18-40 years)
  • Tama County, 3 adults (18-40 years), 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years), 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Van Buren County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Warren County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)
  • Washington County, 2 adults (18-40 years), 3 middle-age adults (41-60 years), 2 older adults (61-80 years)
  • Woodbury County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)

 9:30 a.m. - State health officials are using a six region system to issue public health guidance

Iowa officials say they’re using a regional point scale to determine COVID-19 restrictions and have broken down the state into six regions. 

Iowa officials say they’re using a regional point scale to determine COVID-19 restrictions and that they’ve broken down the state into six regions.
Credit Iowa Department of Public Health

They’re looking at factors such as age, long-term care facility outbreaks, and cases per 100,000 people over 14 days when they make decisions to issue restrictions.

Gov. Kim Reynolds said at a press conference Thursday that some flexibility is needed.

"It allows us to have some flexibility to continue to not only address the supply chain, but to make sure that those essential workers that are on the line, know that they're appreciated and feel comfortable continuing to come to work," she said. 

Currently Iowa’s regions are all ranked between 5 and 7. A 10 is needed for the governor to issue a stay-at-home order, according to documents obtained by the Iowa City Press-Citizen.

Thirty-eight states have issued shelter in place orders.

Thursday, April 2

4:08 p.m. – Democratic lawmakers ask for a stay-at-home order

The Democratic leaders of the Iowa House and Senate are asking Republican Governor Kim Reynolds to issue a formal stay-at-home order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen and House Minority Leader Todd Prichard sent Reynolds a letter Thursday urging her to go further in her response to the new coronavirus.

In the letter, they say Reynolds’ actions such as closing schools and restaurants aren’t enough to flatten the curve and avoid overwhelming Iowa’s health care system.

Petersen and Prichard write a statewide stay-at-home order would, quote, “send a clearer message about the serious nature of this pandemic.” They say there’s currently a patchwork of recommendations that’s confusing to Iowans.

Democratic U.S. Congresswomen Abby Finkenauer and Cindy Axne have also called on Reynolds to issue a stay-at-home order. Asked to respond, Reynolds continues to say she’s already put restrictions in place, and that she’s basing all her decisions on data.

3:32 p.m. - Iowa Legislature extends suspension of session

Lawmakers are extending the suspension of the Iowa legislative session until at least April 30, according to a press release from Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver.

“The Iowa Legislature continues to follow the guidance of the CDC and the Iowa Department of Public Health. It is important for us to continue to lead by example and limit the possible spread of this disease,” Senator Whitver, R-Ankeny, wrote in an email. “I am thankful for all work done by Iowans in the face of the COVID-19. After this virus, I am confident Iowa will rebound stronger than ever.”

Lawmakers who are part of the Legislative Council, a group of top lawmakers, are meeting next week via teleconference to formally extend the suspension of the session.

 2:35 p.m. Gov. Kim Reynolds extends K-12 school closures through April 30

Governor Kim Reynolds announced Thursday that K-12 schools will remain closed at least for the rest of the month as part of the state’s response to COVID-19. But the leader of the state’s largest district says he’s not planning to bring students back at all this school year.

We're doing a lot more harm by limping along and making decisions on a two-week by two-week basis when we have very good evidence that we could make some longer term decisions that are in the community’s best interest. - Des Moines Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Ahart

Des Moines Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Ahart told school board members it would be unrealistic to restart classes in early May when the outbreak in Iowa is projected to be near its peak.

“We’re doing a lot more harm by limping along and making decisions on a two-week by two-week basis when we have very good evidence that we could make some longer term decisions that are in the community’s best interest,” he said.

Ahart says the district is considering a switch to all online learning, starting with high school seniors. He says one of the biggest challenges is providing universal Internet access.

1:30 p.m. – Refugee support for navigating COVID-19

Information on COVID-19 is now available in ten different languages, thanks to a coalition of refugee and immigrant-led organizations in Iowa. The services include news updates translated for a crisis response website and a telephone helpline staffed by people who speak Burmese, Karen and Swahili, among other languages.

The resources are mainly targeted to Iowans from Burma and countries in Central and East Africa. That’s according to Abigail Sui, a staffer at Embarc, a group leading the effort.

Callers to the hotline can get help applying for unemployment and housing support and setting up medical appointments and food deliveries.

The resources are currently being piloted for Polk County residents. Organizers plan to add more staffers and more languages as they scale the program statewide. More information is available at http://www.embarciowa.org/.

1:08 p.m. - Democratic National Committee delays Democratic National Convention

Amid ongoing questions about when traditional presidential campaigning — and the travel and large crowds it entails — will be able to resume, the Democratic National Committee has delayed its nominating convention until the week of Aug. 17. It had been scheduled for the week of July 13.

The event in Milwaukee is now scheduled for the week before the Republican National Convention, which is set to be held in Charlotte, N.C. Read more here. 

11:53 a.m. - 66 new cases of COVID-19, 2 additional deaths announced

The Iowa Department of Public Health has announced 66 new cases of COVID-19 in Iowa, for a total of 614 confirmed, positive cases of the disease. Two more Iowans between the ages of 61-80 from Linn County have also died. So far, there have been 11 deaths in the state associated with the virus, and there have been 8,054 negative COVID-19 tests conducted.

New Cases: 66 Total Confirmed Cases: 614 Deaths: 11

According to IDPH, the locations and age ranges of the 66 new individuals who have tested positive for the virus include:

  • Allamakee County, 1 child (0-17 years), 2 adults (18-40 years), 4 middle-age adults (41-60 years), 1 older adult (61-80) years 
  • Black Hawk County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)
  • Boone County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)
  • Bremer County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)
  • Buchanan County, 1 adult (18-40 years)
  • Cedar County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)
  • Cerro Gordo County, 2 middle-age adults (41-60 years)
  • Clay County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)
  • Clinton County, 2 adults (18-40 years), 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Dallas County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 3 middle-age adults (41-60 years)
  • Delaware County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Jefferson County, 1 adult (18-40 years)
  • Johnson County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 3 middle-age adults (41-60 years)
  • Jones County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)
  • Linn County, 3 adults (18-40 years), 4 middle-age adults (41-60 years), 1 older adult (61-80 years), 1 elderly adult (81+)
  • Mahaska County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)
  • Marshall County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)
  • Muscatine County, 1 adult (18-40 years)
  • Polk County, 2 adults (18-40 years), 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years), 3 older adults (61-80 years)
  • Poweshiek County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)
  • Scott County, 3 middle-age adults (41-60 years), 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Tama County, 2 adults (18-40 years), 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)
  • Van Buren County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Warren County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)
  • Washington County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Winneshiek County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Woodbury County, 2 adults (18-40 years), 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)

11:20 a.m. - How government action aligns with a rise in COVID-19 cases in Iowa

8:40 a.m. – Iowa jobless claims increase over prior week

The number of jobs lost across Iowa due to the coronavirus outbreak grew at an even faster pace last week. Iowa Workforce Development reports more than 58,000 workers filed unemployment claims. That adds up to more than 100,000 new claims over two weeks.

Iowa's unemployment peaked in 2010 and that was 47,000 unemployed persons, so this is more than twice as much. - Dave Swenson, Iowa State University economist

Iowa State University economist David Swenson says that far outpaces unemployment during the Great Recession. “Iowa’s unemployment peaked in 2010 and that was 47,000 unemployed persons, so this is more than twice as much.”

Swenson says the total number of people who have lost jobs is likely even larger because not all workers apply for unemployment assistance.

The largest number of filings came from the category that includes restaurants and hotels. The health care and manufacturing sectors each accounted for more than 7,000 new unemployment claims.

Read more via IPR's Grant Gerlock. 

Wednesday, April 1

6:30 p.m. – Increasing number of clinics adopting curbside and drive-thru testing for COVID-19

Doctors at Community Health Care Inc. in Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois see patients with telehealth first. If a patient has a respiratory illness, their doctor will direct them to curbside care. The health centers have tents set up outside: People can get tested for COVID-19 in their cars, get a flu vaccine or even a physical exam. CEO Tom Bowman says keeping people outside of the clinics helps reduce potential spread of the novel coronavirus.

Additionally, Knoxville Hospital and Clinics screens patients over the phone before they set up an appointment. Then, patients are seen from their cars in the parking lot of the medical center. A provider takes their blood pressure and temperature and might test them for COVID-19.

Cynthia Hoque is a family medicine physician at Knoxville Hospital and Clinics. She says staff are trying to take care of people in the safest way possible. “We serve a large rural area with an elderly population and so we don’t want to get them sick, we don’t want our staff to fall sick and we don’t want to give it to other people either.”

The curbside testing also cuts down on the amount of personal protective equipment or PPE used. Hoque says only one provider per day is doing this testing. They clean their PPE in between patients.

Read more via IPR's Katie Peikes. 

4:24 p.m. – Some infectious disease doctors disagree with state direction that Iowa doesn’t need a stay-at-home order

While state officials are urging Iowans to stay home as much as possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19, some are concerned that message isn’t getting through.

Megan Srivinas is an infectious disease doctor in Fort Dodge. She says a stay-at-home order is necessary to get enough people to participate for the state to flatten the curve. 

“One of the questions I always hear is that they thought that they only needed to stay home if they’re sick, which is not true at all. The message that we’ve been pushing for weeks from infectious disease world and from the public health world really is that you need to stay home, period, because social distancing is the only way we can ensure that transmission is not occurring.”
 
Gov. Kim Reynolds says internal data isn’t pointing to the need for a formal stay-at-home order. But Srinivas says the data she’s looking at does necessitate a formal order.

4:12 p.m. - Gov. Reynolds says public health data does not yet call for a stay-at-home order

Governor Kim Reynolds says a model projecting more than 1300 COVID-19 deaths in Iowa does not account for steps taken to stop the illness from spreading.

The model that's out there does not reflect a lot of the mitigation practices that we put in place, so that will have some bearing on the numbers. - Gov. Kim Reynolds

The model from researchers at the University of Washington was recently cited by White House officials to support federal social distancing guidelines. Reynolds says the numbers don’t account for measures taken in recent weeks such as closings of schools and non-essential businesses.

“The model that’s out there does not reflect a lot of the mitigation practices that we put in place, so that will have some bearing on the numbers,” Reynolds said.

The researchers behind the model have said they give greater weight to a state action when it goes along with a strict stay-at-home order. Reynolds has not taken that step because she says data from the Department of Public Health indicate it is not necessary.

3:41 p.m. – Planned Parenthood and the ACLU of Iowa withdraw their motion to temporarily block the suspension of surgical abortions

Planned Parenthood and the ACLU of Iowa have reached an agreement with the state in which the state clarifies Gov. Kim Reynolds’ proclamation only suspends “non-essential” surgical abortions.

Abortion providers can proceed with surgical abortions that can’t be delayed without undue risk to the health of the patient. And they can consider whether the timing of the patient’s pregnancy would prevent her from getting a legal abortion after the proclamation expires April 16. 

The agreement states Planned Parenthood and the ACLU previously believed Reynolds’ proclamation restricted almost all surgical abortions.

The lawsuit may still continue over the constitutional issues the plaintiffs raised with the order.

3:17 p.m. – Department of Corrections inmates making PPE

The state of Iowa is turning to incarcerated individuals to produce personal protective equipment or PPE, as health care providers and first responders brace for nationwide shortages.

Some 75 incarcerated Iowans are working “virtually around the clock” to expand the state’s stores of personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer. According to the Department of Corrections, the inmates are making thousands of fabric masks and gowns, with plans to expand to face shields.

The first rounds of supplies will be used to meet the needs of the DOC, the state Department of Human Services and the Iowa Veterans Home.

Once those needs are met, supplies will go to the state stockpile, to be distributed to county emergency managers as needed. The inmates are being paid between $1 to $1.25 an hour for their work.

Even as incarcerated Iowans work to aid in the COVID-19 response, concerns persist about their own vulnerability to a potential outbreak of the virus behind bars. DOC spokesman Cord Overton says the department considers transmission in a state prison to be a very real possibility.

“It’s one of those things that we look at, what is probably a reality at some point, it making its way in. But we’re trying to do everything we can to prevent that and then get ready to mitigate it, if it should be introduced into our system,” Overton said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the DOC has administered 14 COVID-19 tests, with one test still pending. So far, all have come back negative.

3:14 p.m. - Watch Gov. Reynolds April 1 press conference 

11:12 a.m. - 52 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, 2 additional deaths reported

The Iowa Department of Public Health has identified 52 additional positive cases of Iowans who have COVID-19. That brings the total number of confirmed cases to 549 spread across 60 counties. 

New Cases: 52 Total Confirmed Cases: 549 Deaths: 9

Two more Iowans have also died of the disease. One elderly adult over the age of 81 in Polk County, and one elderly adult in Washington County over the age of 81 died Tuesday.

According to IDPH, the locations and age ranges of the 52 new cases include:

  • Cerro Gordo County, 1 adult (18-40 years)
  • Clayton County, 1 elderly adult (81+)
  • Clinton County, 1 adult (18-40 years)
  • Dallas County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Des Moines County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)
  • Dubuque County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)
  • Harrison County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Henry County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Iowa County, 1 adult (18-40 years)
  • Jasper County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)
  • Johnson County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years), 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Linn County, 2 adults (18-40 years), 2 middle-age adults (41-60 years)
  • Madison County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Mitchell County, 2 middle-age adults (41-60 years)
  • Muscatine County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years), 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • O’Brien County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years), 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Polk County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years), 3 older adults (61-80 years), 1 elderly (81+)
  • Pottawattamie County, 1 child (0-17 years)
  • Poweshiek County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Scott County, 2 middle-age adults (41-60 years), 1 adult (18-40 years)
  • Story County, 2 older adults (61-80 years)
  • Tama County, 1 middle age adult (41-60 years), 2 older adults (61-80 years)
  • Van Buren County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Warren County, 1 adult (18-40 years)
  • Washington County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 5 middle-age adults (41-60 years), 2 older adults (61-80 years), 1 elderly adult (81+)

Tuesday, March 31

4:07 p.m. - Most evictions postponed until April 17

A patchwork of state and local orders means most evictions in Iowa are being postponed. But advocates are warning that tenants should still pay their rent, or work out an agreement with their landlord.

Landlords cannot terminate someone's lease if they don't pay rent. Now this doesn't mean that rent does not continue to accrue during this time. - Iowa Legal Aid Litigation Director Alex Kornya

While renters cannot get evicted for not paying rent during Iowa’s state of emergency, they still have an obligation to pay, eventually. That’s according to Iowa Legal Aid Litigation Director Alex Kornya.

“Landlords cannot terminate someone’s lease if they don’t pay rent. Now this doesn’t mean that rent does not continue to accrue during this time. It just means that a landlord can’t terminate their lease during this time,” Kornya says.

A state order postpones most evictions until April 17. A federal moratorium on certain evictions extends until July, for people in qualifying housing programs and those living in properties with federally-backed mortgages. More information is available on the Iowa Legal Aid website.

Iowans paying off a mortgage will also get a break from foreclosures under the state order. Some federal agencies have also implemented a foreclosure moratorium for certain federally-connected mortgages through May 18. As with evictions, homeowners are still obligated to make mortgage payments, but won’t be foreclosed upon while the proclamation is in place.

 4:02 p.m. - Sioux City looking for permanent housing after closing homeless shelter due to COVID-19 concerns

Sioux City is looking for permanent housing for more than two dozen homeless people after a local shelter closed last week because of concerns over COVID-19.

Sioux City has placed approximately 30 homeless people in various hotels in the city, said Sioux City Neighborhood Services Manager Jill Wanderscheid in an email to IPR. They’ll stay in those hotels until April 15. City staff are working with these people to find them a long term option like permanent supportive housing or an apartment.

“There are a variety of options depending on what the best fit is for the client,” Wanderscheid wrote. “For example, a person could be connected with permanent supportive housing or a private apartment (some will just need help finding a place).”

The Sioux City Warming Shelter closed last week, early for the season. The board was concerned that if COVID-19 hit the shelter, it would spread through its cramped quarters quickly. There were more than 30 people staying at the shelter, but the shelter’s director said last week that some people had family to go stay with.

 2:35 p.m. - Secretary of State Paul Pate to mail absentee ballots to registered voters

The June 2 primary election will go on as scheduled because it's important for Iowans to make their voices heard by voting. The safest way to vote will be by mail. - Secretary of State Paul Pate

Ahead of the June 2 primary, Iowa’s Secretary of State Paul Pate is mailing an absentee ballot request to every active registered voter in Iowa. The forms will be sent in mid-late April and will include prepaid postage for return mailing to county auditors.

According to a press release, there are approximately two million registered voters in the state.

Pate is encouraging Iowans to vote by mail for the upcoming primary to reduce the risk of the spreading COVID-19.

“The safety of voters while casting their ballots is our top priority,” Secretary Pate said. “The June 2 primary election will go on as scheduled because it’s important for Iowans to make their voices heard by voting. The safest way to vote will be by mail.”

If you’re unsure if you’re registered to vote, or would like to register to vote now, you can do so online here.

12:29 p.m. - 73 additional positive cases of COVID-19 announced, one additional death

The Iowa Department of Public Health has announced 73 new cases of the novel coronavirus in Iowa, bringing the total number of confirmed, positive cases to 497 across 57 counties. 

Seven Iowans have died due to the disease, and there have been a total of 6,888 negative tests to date.

New Cases: 73 Total Confirmed Cases: 497 Deaths: 7

Testing is still quite limited in the state, so the actual number of cases is likely much bigger and more widespread. The state is reporting that 61 Iowans are currently hospitalized, 33 were discharged and recovering, and more than 250 were never hospitalized.

According to IDPH, the locations and age ranges of the 73 new cases include:

  • Black Hawk County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)
  • Cedar County, 1 middle age adult (41-60 years)
  • Clay County, 1 adult (18-40 years)
  • Clinton County, 2 middle-age adults (41-60 years), 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Dallas County, 4 adults (18-40 years)
  • Harrison County, 1 middle age adult (41-60 years)
  • Iowa County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)
  • Jasper County, 1 elderly adult (81+)
  • Johnson County, 2 adults (18-40 years), 1 middle-age (41-60 years)
  • Jones County, 2 adults (18-40 years), 1 middle age (41-60 years)
  • Keokuk County, 1 adult (18-40 years)
  • Linn County, 3 adults (18-40 years), 7 middle age adults (41-60 years), 7 older adults (61-80 years), 2 elderly (81+)
  • Marshall County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Muscatine County, 2 middle-age (41-60 years), 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Polk County, 1 child (0-17), 5 adults (18-40 years), 3 middle age adults (41-60 years), 4 older adult (61-80 years), 2 elderly (81+)
  • Pottawattamie County, 1 middle-age (41-60 years)
  • Scott County, 2 middle-age (41-60 years)
  • Sioux County, 1 middle age adult (41-60 years), 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Tama County, 1 adult (18-40 years)
  • Warren County, 2 middle-age (41-60 years)
  • Washington County, 3 adults (18-40 years), 2 older adults (61-80 years), 1 elderly (81+)

11:01 a.m. - Adventureland delays opening day

The latest summer attraction in Iowa to delay opening because of the spread of COVID-19 is Adventureland. The amusement park in Altoona east of Des Moines says it will delay opening its gates until May 16. Originally, it was scheduled to begin operating on May 2. It also says, however, it continues to monitor state and national health and safety directives and will post future calendar changes as the situation evolves.

9:29 a.m. - Long-term care facility in Linn County sees COVID-19 outbreak

State officials have confirmed that a Linn County long-term care facility has an outbreak of COVID-19.

As Monday afternoon, Linn County has more documented cases of the disease than any other county in the state, with 71 documented cases of the novel coronavirus. Governor Kim Reynolds confirmed that 21 of those cases are linked to one long-term care facility in Cedar Rapids.

She said state and local officials are working together to manage the spread of the virus. Heather Meador of Linn County Public Health says they’re in daily communication with the nursing home.

“We’re going over the needs of the facility, the staff, the residents,” says Meador. “We are…have a line list of everyone that has been ill, so that we can follow up with each of those individuals."

Reynolds has previously ordered staffers at healthcare facilities be screened for symptoms, but she’s resisted calls from local leaders to issue a shelter-in-place order.

Monday, March 30

4:42 p.m. – State expects to receive at least 15 machines that can test for COVID-19 in five minutes

Gov. Reynolds said at a press conference Monday that medical-device manufacturer Abbott expects to produce 50,000 COVID-19 tests a day over the next month. 

Reynolds said the state is guaranteed at least fifteen of Abbott’s machines, which will be distributed through the state Hygienic Lab.

It’s unclear exactly when the state expects to get the machines. Currently COVID-19 testing is restricted to Iowans who have met certain qualifications due to a large shortage of tests.

4:19 p.m. – Personal protective gear continues to be one of the state’s biggest challenges in preparing for the increasing number of COVID-19 patients

At a press conference Monday afternoon, Gov. Reynolds said the Iowa National Guard and other state agencies have so far made 153 equipment deliveries to all 99 of the state’s counties. 

Reynolds said the state’s current pending order includes two million surgical and procedural masks, 500,000 each of both N95 respirator masks and face shields and 250,000 gowns. 

She said a number of Iowa businesses have also started making face shields, masks and other equipment.

3:40 p.m. – Pet food manufacturing plants continue operations

Iowa’s three largest pet food manufacturing facilities, located in Clinton, Davenport and Fort Dodge, are considered a critical essential resource by Homeland Security, which means they continue to operate with COVID 19 guidelines in place.

Purina’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. Kurt Venator says the more than 1,000 workers across the state are cleaning the production areas more frequently while practicing social distancing.

The plants produce pet food and treats.

3:34 p.m. – Winnebago Industries begins manufacturing protective masks for healthcare workers

Workers in the Stitchcraft division of Winnebago Industries in Forest City are sewing the masks destined for MercyOne North Iowa Medical Center in Mason City.

This group normally produces the so-called soft goods for motorhomes, such things as seats, sofas and cushions. But their goal during the current COVID-19 crisis is to make 6,000 medical masks as part of a first production run. The first delivery has already been made.

12:50 p.m. - 2020 80/35 festival canceled

The Des Moines Music Coalition (DMMC) has announced that it is canceling the 13th annual 80/35 festival, originally scheduled for July 10 and 11.

In their announcement, the festival planning committee noted "As a small, nonprofit organization that relies on ticket sales, volunteers, community grants, and corporate sponsorships, the COVID-19 global pandemic has profoundly disrupted our ability to responsibly prepare and produce the festival in a manner that ensures its future success. A future without 80/35 was something we couldn't risk."

The committee announced that they are shifting their focus to planning the 2021 festival. 

12:16 p.m. - Principal Charity Classic postponed

The Principal Charity Classic, held south of downtown Des Moines, is being pushed back three months because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The tournament was originally scheduled for the last week in May but is instead being planned for the first week in September.

An annual stop on the PGA Tour Champions golf circuit, the tournament has brought in millions of dollars for local charities since its inception in 2007.

12:10 p.m. – Lawsuit filed challenging Gov. Kim Reynolds' temporary ban on non-essential medical procedures

The ACLU of Iowa and Planned Parenthood have filed a lawsuit challenging Reynolds’ statement that the state’s temporary ban on non-essential medical procedures includes surgical abortion.

Reynolds says it’s needed to preserve personal protective equipment to care for patients with COVID-19. But Planned Parenthood and the ACLU are asking a judge to block enforcement of the order because they say it’s effectively a ban on abortion after 11 weeks. Iowa law currently bans abortion after 20 weeks, and an attempt to go further was struck down by the Iowa Supreme Court.

The plaintiffs say abortion can’t be delayed without risking the health and safety of women. And this prohibition could result in some women being denied access to abortion altogether.

Reynolds’ proclamation is in effect through April 16, but she could extend it.

11:15 a.m. - IDPH announces 88 new cases, 2 additional deaths

The Iowa Department of Public Health has been notified of 88 additional positive cases of Iowans with COVID-19, for a total of 424 positive cases. There have been a total of 6,162 negative tests to date, which includes testing reported by the State Hygienic Lab and other labs. 

According to IDPH, two Iowans with COVID-19 died Sunday night: one elderly adult (81+) of Linn County, one elderly adult (81+) of Washington County. That marks the fifth and sixth deaths in the state due to the disease. 

According to IDPH, the locations and age ranges of the 88 individuals include:

  • Audubon County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Benton County, 1 middle-aged adult (41-60 years), 1 older adult (61-80 years), 1 elderly adult (81+)
  • Cedar County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Cerro Gordo County, 1 middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
  • Clinton County, 1 middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
  • Crawford County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Dallas County, 3 adults (18-40 years), 1 middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
  • Dubuque County, 3 middle-aged adults (41-60 years), 2 older adults (61-80 years),
  • Guthrie County, 1 middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
  • Iowa County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Jackson County, 1 adult (18-40 years)
  • Jasper County, 1 elderly adult (81+)
  • Johnson County,  2 middle-aged adults (41-60 years), 3 older adults (61-80 years)
  • Jones County, 1 adult (18-40 years)
  • Linn County, 9 adults (18-40 years), 8 middle-aged adults (41-60 years), 6 older adults (61-80 years), 6 elderly adults (81+)
  • Monona County, 1 child (0-17 years), 1 adult (18-40 years), 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Muscatine County, 1 middle-aged adult (41-60 years), 2 older adults (61-80 years)
  • Polk County, 2 children (0-17 years), 2 adults (18-40 years), 6 middle-aged adults (41-60 years), 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Scott County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 2 middle-aged adults (41-60 years), 3 older adults (61-80 years)
  • Shelby County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Tama County, 1 adult (18-40 years) 
  • Van Buren County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Washington County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 3 middle-aged adults (41-60 years), 1 older adult (61-80 years)

Sunday, March 29

 5:23 p.m. - Taking stock in case Iowa becomes a hot spot for COVID-19

Governor Kim Reynolds will hear from hospitals this week on how they will work together if the number of COVID-19 cases surges in Iowa as it has previously in places like Seattle and New York City.

Reynolds said hospital leaders were asked to come up with plans to share bed space along with ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and face shields.

“We have to plan for it,” Reynolds told reporters at a press conference Sunday afternoon. “What happens if we’re at maximum capacity at one of our hospitals? What’s the alternative plan? What’s the amount of PPE?”

Reynolds said the Iowa National Guard continues to distribute protective equipment from government stockpiles. She said her office is also collecting information from hospitals about what orders they’ve made for equipment and what they’ve received so that health officials have a better picture of what’s available statewide.

Although the situation continues to change quickly, Iowa Department of Health Deputy Director Sarah Reisetter said the state may see its first peak in coronavirus cases in 2-3 weeks.

Cases across counties

Three weeks after the first incident of COVID-19 was reported in Iowa, just 50 of the state’s 99 counties have reported at least one confirmed case of COVID-19. Meanwhile, residents in the rest of the counties are being told to keep their guard up.

It should be every Iowan's assumption that the virus is currently circulating in their community. Those mitigation strategies are very important regardless of where you live. - Sarah Reisetter, deputy director of the Iowa Department of Public Health

Most counties in the western and southern parts of the state have not reported their first positive tests, but tests still are not available to everyone who wants one and Sarah Reisetter, deputy director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, said a low case count could give a false sense of security.

“It should be every Iowan’s assumption that the virus is currently circulating in their community,” Reisetter said. “So those mitigation strategies are very important regardless of where you live.”

Those strategies include staying home whenever possible, limiting shopping trips to buy only the basics and closing many businesses to reduce community spread of coronavirus.

Although there are limits to the number of tests available, Reisetter said testing has occurred in all 99 counties.

Looking for volunteer nurses

Iowa nurses are being asked to register as emergency volunteers if they are able to respond to possible worker shortages caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

The Iowa Board of Nursing shared information with licensed nurses last week that the state Department of Public Health is looking for people to sign up on i-SERV, an online registry used to coordinate responses to disasters and public health emergencies. Nurses can add their credentials and experience. The department will use that information to contact them with volunteer assignments which they can either accept or decline.

Reisetter said on a virtual town-hall with Rep. Cindy Axne that i-SERV may come into use if COVID-19 causes nursing shortages in hospitals or long-term care facilities.

11:55 a.m. - IDPH announces 38 new cases, 1 additional death 

The Iowa Department of Public Health has confirmed 38 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total in Iowa to 336 positive cases. Officials also reported Sunday that an Iowan between 61 and 80 years of age from Linn County died Saturday. That marks the fourth death in the state due to the disease. 

Gov. Kim Reynolds is hosting a press conference at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Watch live here.  

According to IDPH, the locations and age ranges of the 38 new cases include:

  • Cedar County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Cerro Gordo County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 1 middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
  • Dallas County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Dubuque County, 1 child (0-17 years), 2 middle-aged adults (41-60 years), 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Henry County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Iowa County, 1 middle-aged adult (41-60 years) 
  • Jasper County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Johnson County, 2 adults (18-40), 2 middle-aged adults (41-60 years)
  • Linn County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 3 middle-aged adults (41-60 years), 2 older adults (61-80 years)
  • Marshall County, 1 middle-aged adult (41-60 years) 
  • Polk County, 2 adults (18-40 years), 2 middle-aged adults (41-60 years) 5 older adults (61-80 years),1 elderly adult (81+)
  • Tama County, 1 adult (18-40 years)
  • Washington County, 1 middle-aged adult (41-60 years), 1 elderly adult (81+)
  • Winneshiek County 1 middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
  • Woodbury County, 1 adult (18-40 years)