Coronavirus in Iowa, live updates for April 21: Freedom Festival canceled

Medical assistant Samantha Wright inputs data as her colleague packages a test sample at the University of Iowa Hospital
Medical assistant Samantha Wright inputs data as her colleague packages a test sample at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Family Medicine Clinic in Iowa City on Monday, April 20, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

2:02 p.m. Board of Pharmacy Provides Its Rules For Distribution Of COVID-19 Testing Kits

The Iowa Board of Pharmacy said COVID-19 testing kits, including serology kits, are considered “medical devices” when it comes to distribution.

“The distribution of medical devices exclusively to a health care practitioner for use in the normal course of professional practice (“professional use”) is identified as an activity for which a distributor may, but is not required to, obtain a limited distributor license. See 657 IAC 42.3(2),” the Board of Pharmacy said in a press release.

“A distributor which intends to limit its activity in Iowa to the distribution of medical devices, such as those for COVID-19 testing, for professional use is not required to first obtain a wholesale distributor or limited distributor license. A distributor may obtain a limited distributor license, but is not required to do so prior to engaging in this activity.”

The BOP said its statement should not be interpreted as an endorsement or assurance of quality of any testing kits “currently available in the marketplace.”

11:45 a.m. NFIB Survey Says Most Small businesses In State Believe Economic Recovery Will Go Beyond 2020

The National Federation of Independent Business Research Center released results of a recent survey that said most small business owners in the state believe it will take beyond 2020 to recover from the economic impact of COVID-19.

In fact, a quarter of small businesses believe it will take until 2022 or later before the economy returns to normal.

“These survey results are not surprising,” said NFIB Iowa state director Matt Everson. “I’ve been talking with small business owners every day, and many of the small business owners who are the most desperate for funding are the business owners who are not getting the help they need to survive this crisis.”

According to a release by the NFIB:


— About three-quarters of small business owners (almost all employer businesses) have submitted an application for a PPP loan as of April 17.

— About 20% of submitted applications have been fully processed with funds deposited in the borrower’s account.

— Nearly 80% are still waiting, many not knowing where they are in the process.

About 40% of small business owners successfully submitted an application for an EIDL through the SBA website.

— Among those who submitted an application, most (77%) requested the emergency grant of up to $10,000.

— Of those who requested the EIDL emergency grant, about 10% have received the funds.

— Essentially, all of the EIDL applicants (99%) have yet to receive the loan.

Results of the entire survey can be accessed here.

11 a.m. Freedom Festival Canceled

The 2020 Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers have announced.

“It’s difficult to anticipate what the public health horizon will look like in June when the annual Festival events would normally begin,” Freedom Festival Executive Director Carissa Johnson said in a release. “After consultation with the Mayor of Cedar Rapids and the Linn County Public Health Department, we are making the conservative decision to cancel all 2020 Freedom Festival produced events.”

The Freedom Festival is a 501c3 non-profit organization that is responsible for producing events like the Tribute to Heroes Dinner, Balloon Glow, parade, dockdogs, Freedom bike ride, pancake breakfast and Celebration of Freedom 4th of July Fireworks.

“Freedom Festival is a long-standing tradition in Cedar Rapids that brings our citizens and visitors together to enjoy our community and celebrate our country’s freedoms” said Cedar Rapids Mayor Brad Hart. “This year’s festival will yield to the safety of our community due to the coronavirus, but I’m certain Freedom Festival 2021 will be the biggest and best, yet. I’m already looking forward to it,”

“We know this was a very difficult decision for the Freedom Festival board and staff to make,” said Linn County Board of Supervisors member Ben Rogers. “It’s one on a long list of difficult decisions that have been made in the last several weeks. We also know that our community is resilient. We will get through this. The Freedom Festival has long been a signature event in our community, and we know it will return.”

Commemorative 2020 Freedom Festival buttons will be available for purchase beginning May 1 for $5 per button. They will be available at all Hy-Vee Food & Drug Store locations in Cedar Rapids and Marion.

The community is being asked to purchase the buttons to support the 2021 Festival.

“We thank our community and our sponsors for your continued loyalty and dedication to the Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival as we navigate uncharted territory,” said Freedom Festival Board President Jill Costigan. “We are exploring ways the community can still enjoy Freedom Festival Events virtually for the 2020 Festival: utilizing video, Facebook Live, and other options. We look forward to sharing these plans as they develop.”

9:47 a.m. Unity Point Doctor Says It’s Important For Parents To Keep Their Child’s Wellness Exam

In a Facebook post on the Unity Point Health-Cedar Rapids page, Dr. Dan Allen said parents should keep scheduled wellness exams for their children even during the COVID-19 pandemic because of the importance of keeping them up to date with vaccinations.

“There was just an article today in one of the journals I follow about the concern that young children are not getting their vaccines,” Allen said. “When we start letting people get a little closer together, there is great concern that some of the diseases we had under control, measles, for example, will come back because we have missed those vaccinations.

“It is very important, particularly while we are trying to manage COVID, that we keep vaccinations up to date for those diseases we have vaccinations for. That is especially the pediatric population.”

Allen said Unity Point is keeping its clinics safe and suggested having all children in a family come together for a vaccination appointment and to make those appointments in the morning.


8:51 a.m. Iowa Raptors Soccer Team Donates Food To Cedar Valley Humane Society

The Iowa Raptors FC soccer team of Cedar Rapids recently donated over 1,000 pounds of dog and cat food to the Cedar Valley Humane Society to help the animal shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Members of the community who have lost jobs and are struggling to afford food for their pets can contact the CVHS for relief, in the form of a bag of donated pet food and refills within reason. The pet food is donated.

The Raptors said they are challenging others to help the Cedar Valley Humane Society by contacing the shelter and arranging with it to donate a bag of pet food. Drop the food off at the shelter (or any shelter), take a photo of it and tag the club on Twitter via the hashtag #RaptorRelief.

The team then will give a random donator a $25 Sam’s Club gift card, $25 in cash to be used during the visit, whih will include the company of a Raptors player.

8:28 a.m. Iowa City’s Englert Theatre Describes Financial Challenges

In an e-mail to its patrons, the Englert Theatre in Iowa City said it will sustain an expected cash shortfall of $385,213 in gross revenue for the March-May period, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That is 20 percent of its gross revenue for the year.

Englert Executive Director Andre Perry said the venue has had 33 performances canceled or postponed in the three-month period and 40 individual events within its popular Mission Creek Festival.

“We have experienced both good and bad cycles in the past, though this is entirely new territory for our small nonprofit,” Perry said. “To meet our challenge we are exploring all avenues for relief: favorable loan opportunities, local and national grants, and organizational restructuring.”

Perry is asking for help from the community in three ways.

1. Make a contribution through the Englert’s Friends program, which can be done here.

2. Donate the value of your ticket to a show that has been canceled or rescheduled.

3. Purchase a gift certificate for yourself of someone else for later use.


“We are inspired by our community’s voices,” Perry said. “Drop us a line and let us know how you are doing. Send any questions, recommendations, or reflections to

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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.