DES MOINES, Iowa — Gov. Kim Reynolds and State Medical Director and Epidemiologist Caitlyn Pedati briefed the press Thursday afternoon on the war against the novel coronavirus, including announcing that Iowa now has 44 positive cases of COVID-19 in 13 counties.
Reynolds said responding to the outbreak in Iowa, including proclaiming Wednesday a public health disaster emergency, has involved “some of the toughest decisions that I’ve made as your governor.”
The governor promised relief for workers in the form of state unemployment insurance and for business owners in a waiver for unemployment charges, with additional federal assistance anticipated for small businesses. The filing deadline for personal income taxes has been extended to July 31.
“To Iowa’s small business owners, I hear you,” Reynolds said. “You are the backbone of our economy, and we stand ready to provide you the support you need to keep our state open for business.”
The unemployment guidelines both for workers and employers are available at the Iowa Workforce Development website, which is set up for COVID-19-related layoffs and closures.
Reporters asked several questions about the state’s supply of personal protective equipment for medical personnel and the state’s capacity for testing for COVID-19. Pedati said the state hygienic laboratory currently has 400 test kits on hand, and efforts are being made at all levels to secure adequate resources.
Pedati repeatedly encouraged all Iowans to take the recommended precautions to prevent the spread of the virus:
- to wash hands frequently with soap and water for 20-30 second
- to cover your coughs and sneezes
- to stay home from work if you feel unwell
Pedati said anyone who suspects they have contracted the coronavirus should call ahead to their doctor or health care provider to make arrangements for treatment.
Reynolds said a shelter-in-place order is “not on the table at this time.” She said rumors are rife around the nation.
Reynolds said she will continue to update the public on the state of the pandemic in Iowa. She said all Iowans with questions of any kind should call the 24-hour call center by dialing 2-1-1 or visit the IDPH website.
Federal assistance in the form of checks straight to Americans are being arranged by the Senate Finance Committee, which is chaired by Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Maine Sen. Susan Collins are developing plans to assist small businesses.
The first federal emergency aid package was signed March 6 and provided $8 billion for COVID-19 testing and lowered costs for related medical treatments.
A second federal package, passed Wednesday, provided $100 billion for free testing, paid sick and family leave for some for U.S. workers impacted by the illness, expanded unemployment assistance and increased food aid. Companies with fewer than 50 workers can apply for hardship relief and get out of providing paid sick and family leave, if approved by President Donald Trump’s administration, and companies that have to offer leave would receive a tax credit.
Congress is also working on a third emergency package, costing about $1 trillion, that could include payments to small businesses, loan guarantees for industries like airlines and hotels and a stimulus package for workers, such as $1,000 for each adult and $500 for each child.
ThePerryNews.com will update this story as information becomes available.