CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus in Iowa, live updates for April 27: Hy-Vee now requiring workers to wear masks and will pay a 10 percent bonus

ImOn business installer Logan Graham works on running wires up the exterior of the building at Evans ATA Black Belt Acad
ImOn business installer Logan Graham works on running wires up the exterior of the building at Evans ATA Black Belt Academy in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

4:12 p.m. Hy-Vee requires employees to wear mass; provides additional 10 percent employee appreciation bonus to front-line workers

WEST DES MOINES — Hy-Vee, Inc. announced Monday that all store and distribution center employees throughout its eight-state region are now required to wear masks or other facial coverings while at work in response to the evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Hy-Vee provided masks to all employees over the past several weeks. Effective Monday, wearing a mask or other facial covering inside Hy-Vee stores is mandatory for employees to help protect both our employees and customers.

This is just one of many measures Hy-Vee has taken to ensure the health and wellbeing of its employees and customers over the past several weeks. Other efforts include temporary Plexiglas barriers installed at all check stands and pharmacy, customer service and convenience store counters; social distancing indicators on the floor wherever lines typically form in the store; one-way directional signage for all aisles; sanitation of all carts and check stand belts between each customer use; special shopping times for those considered to most at risk for illness and much more.

To show its gratitude to employees during this time, Hy-Vee also announced Monday it is providing another front-line employee appreciation bonus to all of its part-time and full-time store employees. The employees will receive a 10 percent bonus on all their hours worked from April 13 through May 3.

This is the second employee appreciation bonus the company is providing to its front line employees. The other 10% bonus was on all hours worked from March 16 to April 12.

4:17 p.m. Amana Colonies Festivals cancels 2020 Maifest

AMANA — Because of COVID-19, Amana COlonies Festivals Inc. has decided to cancel our 2020 Maifest.

“At our festivals in the Amana Colonies, visitor safety and health is a top priority and we want to do everything we can to keep people safe,” the organization said Monday on its Facebook page. “We look forward to seeing visitors in town as our businesses are able to open back up, and we are here waiting for you to join us when it is safe.”

The release said Maifest will return in 2021.

3:16 p.m. Iowa Workforce Development announces Iowans Who Refuse to Return to Work Without Good Reason When Recalled Will Lose Unemployment Benefits

DES MOINES — In a news release today, Iowa Workforce Development announced that Iowans who have been placed on a temporary layoff related to COVID-19 but refuse to return to work when recalled by their employer will lose unemployment benefits, except for certain circumstances including:

— If you have tested positive for COVID-19 and are experiencing symptoms

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— If you have recovered but it caused medical complications rendering you unable to perform essential job duties

— If a member of your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19

— If you are providing care for a member of your household who was diagnosed with COVID-19

— If you do not have childcare due to COVID-19 reasons

— If you do not have transportation to your place of work because of COVID-19.

Iowa Workforce Development also said Monday that refusing to return to work when recalled for any other reason, or in an attempt to continue to draw unemployment benefits will be considered a “voluntary quit” which would disqualify a claimant from receiving benefits, including the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefit of $600/weekly. An employee who is recalled on a part-time basis may continue to be eligible for benefits depending on the amount of wages they earn.

“The additional unemployment benefits that are provided under the CARES Act are meant to be temporary in nature and bridge the gap between the outbreak and a return to normal,” Beth Townsend, director of Iowa Workforce Development. “For Iowans whose employment may be permanently affected by the outbreak, we have many training opportunities under Future Ready Iowa to help them obtain training and begin a new career in a high-demand, high-paying job.”

Townsend wants businesses to report employees who refuse to return to work without good reason or who quit their jobs as soon as possible.

10:21 a.m. Iowa eBay seller accused of price gouging

DES MOINES — Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller has sued an Orange City man for alleged price gouging, accusing him of charging excessive prices on more than 250 items on eBay, including toilet paper, paper towels and disinfecting and sanitizing products.

The lawsuit is the first Iowa price-gouging petition filed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the beginning of the public health emergency, the office’s Consumer Protection Division has received 470 reports of price gouging, including 285 formal complaints.

The lawsuit names Michael Evan Noteboom of Orange City, who the lawsuit says has the eBay account known as mn65. The lawsuit, filed Friday, asks a judge to order a temporary and permanent injunction to stop Noteboom from selling household merchandise on any platform. It also seeks consumer restitution or disgorgement and civil penalties.

The complaints’ allegations included that mn65 was selling a 12-ounce can of Lysol on eBay for $65.99, Angel Soft toilet paper (12 count) for $86, and Bounty paper towels (6 count) for $49.99.

Businesses or individuals found in violation of Iowa’s price-gouging rule could face civil penalties of up to $40,000 under the Iowa Consumer Fraud Act.

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“Our office has warned the defendant repeatedly to stop his activity,” Miller said. “Through news reports, public-service announcements and other notices, our office has informed sellers and the public that we will not hesitate to protect consumers from price gouging.”

2:19 p.m. Linn County Public Health enhances COVID-19 mapping database

CEDAR RAPIDS — Linn County Public Health has added additional information to its coronavirus response webpage, LinnCounty.org/COVID-19.

This page provides the community the most accurate and updated information on COVID-19 in Linn County. This webpage includes a case count database with interactive maps and graphs that show COVID-19 data for Linn County. New information added includes:

— A map of confirmed cases by zip code

— A graph of confirmed cases by date

— Confirmed cases by race

— Confirmed cases by ethnicity

This new capability allows the community to understand the impact of COVID-19 within Linn County. Linn County Public Health is using this information to efficiently reach populations that may be unequally impacted by COVID-19. This includes providing additional outreach materials to impacted communities, according to a news release from Linn County.

The database is populated with information from the Iowa Department of Public Health and the ESRI Living Atlas. The Linn County GIS Department and other community partners help make the website possible. A direct link to the database is available at: https://c19-linncountygis-linncounty-gis.hub.arcgis.com/.

2:00 p.m. 10-26 To-Go opens at UnityPoint Health-Cedar Rapids

CEDAR RAPIDS — 1026 To-Go recently opened at UnityPoint Health–St. Luke’s Hospital. It’s mini-grocery store located within the hospital’s existing 1026 Café. It was added by hospital administration to help employees that may find it challenging to grocery shop during the pandemic.

1026 To-Go offers basic food items like bread, milk, eggs, fruit, vegetables and even toilet paper. Take-n-bake pizzas or made to order pizzas are also available to employees.

1:06 p.m. Iowa Federation of Labor Memorial Day event will be virtual

The unions of Iowa Federation of Labor will play host to a virtual Worker’s Memorial Day ceremony tomorrow night at 6 to remember the 63 workers who unexpectedly lost their life on the job in 2019.

The organization opted for a “virtual” Workers Memorial Day Ceremony because “we couldn’t let this day go unnoticed.”

Affiliate organizations typically hold ceremonies every April 28th to memorialize workers who have lost their lives the preceding year. These gatherings are held throughout the state, but to keep everyone safe and healthy the event will online this year.

Here’s the Zoom conference meetings link for the event — https://zoom.us/j/525180208. And here’s the Facebook Live link: https://www.facebook.com/IowaAFLCIO.

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The ceremony will include an invocation, two guest speakers, Ken Sagar, President, Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO and Rod Roberts, Labor Commissioner, Iowa Department of Labor followed by a presentation honoring all of the workers who lost their life on the job in Iowa during 2019.

1:28 p.m. Cedar Rapids seeks cloth mask donations

CEDAR RAPIDS — The City of Cedar Rapids is calling on community volunteers to help create and donate cloth masks, which will be distributed to local service agencies and community members in need.

The City will be accepting donations until Friday, May 15, 2020. Residents who wish to donate masks can drop them off at a variety of safe drop-box locations.

Drop-boxes are located:

— City Services Center front lobby (500 15th Ave SW)

— City Hall (corner of 1st Avenue SE and 1st Street SE)

— Water Administration Building (1111 Shaver Road NE)

Another opportunity for mask donations will be the United Way of East Central Iowa food and essential items drive. In addition to masks, residents may drop-off personal care items, cleaning supplies, and food items at the Lindale Mall to support older adults impacted by COVID-19.

Food & Essential Items Drive — Location: Lindale Mall (former Younkers location, near Carter’s)

Dates and Times:

May 1, 4 pm – 6 pm

May 2, 11 am – 4 pm

May 3, 11 am – 4 pm

The effort supports recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies).

Cloth face masks should fit snuggly and be cleaned regularly. Children under 2 years of age should not wear a cloth masks. Guidance and tutorials on making cloth masks can be found through the following credible sources:

CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html

UnityPoint Health: https://www.unitypoint.org/cedarrapids/sewing-surgical-masks.aspx

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Mercy Cedar Rapids: https://www.mercycare.org/news/2020/mercy-kicks-off-mask-wearing-initiative-among-employees-and-comm/

10:12 a.m. Iowa Pork Producers launches ‘Pass the Pork’ program

DES MOINES — Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg and Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig today announced a new “Pass the Pork” program to connect Iowa pig farmers with food insecure Iowans, it was announced Monday.

The program is an initiative of Gov. Reynolds’ Feeding Iowans Task Force led by Lt. Gov. Gregg.

Through “Pass the Pork,” Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship are helping Iowa pig farmers donate pigs to Iowa food bank feeding programs. Local meat processors are extending their hours of operation to process and package the pork donations to help meet the growing demand for food bank and food pantry resources. Iowa food banks are getting the pork into the hands of those in need.

“Pass the Pork” will officially begin when the first donated pigs are delivered on May 1. Processing will continue in May and for as long as processing capacity and funds remain.

How to get involved?

The pigs for “Pass the Pork” are being donated by Iowa pig farmers. However, there are costs associated with the processing, storage, and delivery of the pork to food banks and pantries. Iowans can contribute to the Iowa Food Bank Association to help cover these costs and future purchases of Iowa-produced pork for food bank programs.

To donate funds to help support this program, visit the Iowa Food Bank Association website at donorbox.org/passthepork.

Iowa pig farmers and meat processors who are interested in participating in the program should contact the Iowa Pork Producers Association at (515) 225-7675.

A summary of food resources available to those in need is available at coronavirus.iowa.gov.

10:12 a.m. SEATS is requiring users to wear cloth masks while on buses

IOWA CITY — Because of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention’s recent recommendation that people should wear cloth masks while in public spaces where social distancing may not be possible, Johnson County is asking transit riders to please wear a cloth mask when riding a bus.

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Wearing a cloth mask while riding transit will help keep both the drivers and riders safe, and limit the spread of COVID-19, the news release said. Johnson County bus drivers also have access to, and and wear, masks.

Johnson County also reminds residents that travel on public transit should be used for only absolutely essential trips: to work, for grocery shopping, or healthcare related trips.

The read the CDC’s cloth mask recommendation, visit their website. The CDC also has instructions on how anyone can make their own cloth mask at home.

The SEATS department provides rides to senior citizens, people with disabilities and others who may otherwise find it difficult to conduct daily transactions. The SEATS vans regularly transport people to doctor’s appointments, grocery stores, and other destinations providing its clients with a necessary and reassuring degree of freedom.

10:07 a.m. Iowa City announces closures, continuance of closures

IOWA CITY — These facilities have closed: City Hall, the Iowa City Public Library, the Iowa City/Johnson County Senior Center, the Landfill and Recycling Center, the Animal Care and Adoption Center, as well as Parks and Recreation’s Robert A. Lee Recreation Center, Mercer Park Aquatic Center/Scanlon Gym, Terry Trueblood Lodge, and Ned Ashton House.

They will be closed from Sunday, March 15, 2020, until further notice. The City continues to monitor COVID-19’s impact, and will review opening facilities as this develops.

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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.