CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus in Iowa, live updates for April 2: Cedar Rapids, Gazette partner for online business resource database

Bryan Dellett, third-year architecture student, looks over a pair of finished visor frames. A team of architecture stude
Bryan Dellett, third-year architecture student, looks over a pair of finished visor frames. A team of architecture students are operating 30 3D printers to manufacture face shields to assist with the health care industry’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The work is ongoing inside the College of Design’s Computation and Construction Lab. (Christopher Gannon/ISU)
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Additional closures to Cedar Rapids park facilities

Due to the COVID-19 virus, and the difficulty in following social distancing guidelines when using some park facilities, the City of Cedar Rapids has closed the Riverside Skate Park, outdoor basketball courts, volleyball courts, sand volleyball courts, tennis courts, and baseball fields.

Playgrounds and outdoor exercise stations were closed previously and remain closed. Signage has been posted at closed facilities and playgrounds have been taped off. Parks, trails, disc golf and dog parks are open at this time. Prairie Park Fishery is also open for fishing and walking.

“While we encourage people to get outside to exercise, it is difficult to keep a distance of six feet from others when using facilities like the skate park or playing basketball. We feel these closures will assist in keeping the community safe while using parks,” said Scott Hock, Parks and Recreation Director.

The public is reminded that park restrooms are currently closed and water is not turned on. Park-users are asked to carry out any trash they bring into the parks.

Nearly all Iowa small business impacted by coronavirus

The National Federation of Independent Business Research Center’s latest survey on the current impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on small business shows continued deterioration of the small business sector.

Currently, 92 percent of small employers are negatively impacted by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, a continued escalation from 76 percent of small employers reporting negative impacts 10 days earlier. About 3 percent are positively impacted.

“As you can see from the current survey, it is getting progressively dire for small businesses and their employees in Iowa. Although small business owners tend to be resilient, the current trend is unsustainable,” said NFIB State Director in Iowa, Matt Everson. “To help with some of the lost revenue, we encourage all small businesses to contact their financial institution as soon as possible to explore all funding resources that the federal government has begun to provide.”

Starting Friday, small business owners can begin applying for the Paycheck Protection Program. NFIB is encouraging members to apply as soon as possible since there is a funding cap.

Resources to support learning during COVID-19

The Iowa Department of Education is collaborating with the following agencies and organizations to provide access to educational enrichment options for students, parents and educators during the temporary disruption of classroom learning due to COVID-19:

Iowa’s Area Education Agencies

Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council

Iowa PBS

Iowa Reading Research Center

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For more information, click here.

Linn County REC suspends disconnections for non-payment for April

Linn County REC announced it is suspending disconnection for non-payment for the month of April.

Meter-reading will continue during this pandemic. The REC encourages members to be mindful of their energy use and to try to make payments toward their energy bill to avoid facing a large past due amount when this situation subsides.

Members experiencing financial difficulty may also apply for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) financial aid by contacting their local community action agency. The Iowa Department of Human Rights recently extended the LIHEAP application period for eligible Iowans until May 31

Menards to no longer allow children under 16

Menards stores announced they will no loner allow children under 16 or pets in their stores becaue of the COVID-19 crisis.

Cedar Rapids, Gazette partner for online business resource database

The city of Cedar Rapids, The Gazette and area service providers have launched an online business resource database to help reduce the economic impact from COVID-19.

Business Resources — thegazette.com/coronavirus-business-resource — includes a searchable directory with information on federal, state and local resources for area businesses, such as financial assistance and workshops.

The directory can be found on The Gazette’s free, dedicated page for ongoing and breaking coronavirus news — thegazette.com/coronavirus.

The website will be updated in real time as new information becomes available.

Iowa State University making, distributing face shields

From Iowa State University:

AMES — An Iowa State University team, in partnership with Alliant Energy, is manufacturing and distributing face shields to Iowa hospitals.

Iowa State assistant professor of architecture Shelby Doyle and eight of her students worked with face shield designs by Prusa3D in the Czech Republic and adapted by the Storrs FabLab at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. Doyle is co-founder of the Computation and Construction Lab.

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“The CCL student employees are making the best of a really challenging moment where a lot of us feel really helpless as we watch this pandemic unfurl,” Doyle said. “Fabricating face shields is a small way for us to engage that’s within our capabilities: the CCL’s typical research is in 3D modeling, 3D printing and digital fabrication.

“Our work can sometimes seem esoteric, but the need for PPE has brought the best out of the fabrication and design community.”

The team hopes to manufacture up to 2,000 face shields – but Doyle and her students say they will work until they can’t.

Alliant Energy is funding the 3D printing and donating supplies to the ISU team. The company will also distribute the face shields as they are finished to hospitals across Iowa.

Marion closes high-traffic areas in park system

Several changes have been implemented to Marion’s park system in recent weeks to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

High-touch and high-traffic areas such as the playgrounds, fitness trail equipment, skatepark, baseball diamonds, and basketball courts have all been closed. All schools throughout Marion have taken similar action to discourage youth and adults from congregating.

Park staffing and maintenance activities have also been reduced. As a result, the Marion Parks and Recreation Department is asking for the public’s help in keeping community parks and trails clean by carrying out any garbage that is brought into the park system.

“These are extraordinary times. While our parks, trails, and disc golf course remain open, it is critical for park users to observe posted signage and follow the CDC’s social distancing guidelines,” said Mike Carolan, director of Marion Parks and Recreation. “Keep groups to 10 or fewer and always have a minimum of 6 feet between you and other people. Together, we will get through this.”

Previously scheduled recreation programs occurring during the month of April have been canceled. This includes youth, family, and senior activities. Marion Boys Baseball and Peg Pierce Girls Softball have delayed the start of the season until further notice. Swim Lesson Registration Day will be rescheduled. Find the full listing of impacted programs at www.cityofmarion.org.

New Pioneer stores will close for one day next week

The New Pioneer Co-op stores will be closed for one day to meet demand and test expansion for its online service, Co-op Cart.

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The Cedar Rapids and Coralville will be closed on Monday, and the one in Iowa City will be closed on April 10.

During those specific days, the stores will increase the number of available curbside pick-up time slots per hour.

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Support our coverage

Our most important Coronavirus coverage is free to the public.

If you believe local news is essential, especially during this crisis, please donate. Your contribution will support news resources to cover the impact of the pandemic on our local communities.

All donations are tax-deductible.