CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus in Iowa, live updates for April 6: Cedar Rapids Public Library to remain closed until further notice

Motorcyclists and friends of Chad Edmonds of Cedar Rapids wave to hospital workers from a parking ramp on the UnityPointlink. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)" />
Motorcyclists and friends of Chad Edmonds of Cedar Rapids wave to hospital workers from a parking ramp on the UnityPoint St. Luke’s campus in Cedar Rapids on Sunday, April 5, 2020. Edmonds has been battling COVID-19 in the hospital and is in an induced coma, according to his parents, who took part in the show of support. For more photos from this moment, check this link. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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5:43 p.m. Cedar Rapids Public Library to remain closed until further notice

CEDAR RAPIDS — For the health and safety of the public, due to COVID-19, Cedar Rapids Public Library buildings will remain closed until further notice, officials announced Monday.

The City of Cedar Rapids has previously canceled all non-essential programs and events to facilitate social distancing. These include all Library programs and meetings, both public and private, scheduled in our facilities. These measures remain in effect until further notice.

Due dates on all library materials will be moved to May 16, 2020.

These measures are being implemented for the safety of all Cedar Rapids residents and employees. City officials will continue to monitor the situation, working with local public health officials, and will modify these guidelines as the situation warrants.

Library staff continue to provide service online and on the phone during operating hours with the exception of Sundays. People can call the Library at 319.261.7323 for assistance or visit CRLibrary.org.

Additionally, programs are being offered virtually through the Library’s Facebook and YouTube channels. The public is invited to use these resources daily for updated content.

Library Access from Home — The Cedar Rapids Public Library’s robust digital services give card holders 24/7 free access to ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, movies, music, and more. Library users can visit CRLibrary.org/library-at-home for direct access to these resources and more.

3:13 p.m. Tyson shuts down Columbus Junction pork operations

COLUMBUS JUNCTION — Tyson Foods on Monday said it suspended operations at its Columbus Junction pork plant after more than two dozen cases of COVID-19 were reported among employees at that facility.

“In an effort to minimize the impact on our overall production, we’re diverting the livestock supply originally scheduled for delivery to Columbus Junction to some of our other pork plants in the region,” the company said on its website.

3:28 p.m. Unity Point Health-St. Luke’s Hospital: West entrance open only to ER patients

CEDAR RAPIDS — Starting Tuesday, April 7, the West Entrance at UnityPoint Health — St. Luke’s Hospital will be dedicated for emergency room (ER) patients only, the hospital announced Monday.

Outpatient and visitor traffic should use the SurgiCare Entrance.

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Outpatients and visitors should park on North Parking Structure (NPS) 4th floor.

11:35 a.m. Cedar Rapids facility closures and transit service suspension extended

CEDAR RAPIDS — In order to follow updated social distancing guidelines provided by the State of Iowa and the Iowa Department of Public Health, the City of Cedar Rapids will extend building closures until April 30, 2020. Suspension of Cedar Rapids Transit Service is also extended through April 30, 2020.

Closed facilities include:

City Hall (101 1st St SE)

City Services Center (500 15th Avenue SW)

Cedar Rapids Water Administration (1111 Shaver Road NE)

Central Fire Station (713 1st Ave SE) u

Animal Care and Control (900 76th Ave Dr. SW)

Cedar Rapids Police Station (505 1st St SW)

Ground Transportation Center (450 1st St SE)

Neighborhood Transportation Service (NTS) at Horizons will continue to provide daytime rides to work for those with critical employment transportation needs such as work at hospitals, grocery stores, care facilities, and convenience stores/gas stations.

To schedule a ride, citizens should call 319-363-1321 at least 24 hours in advance. For more information about NTS services, schedules and regulations visit www.horizonsfamily.org.

The City’s emergency services continue, and services to the public are still operational and available either online or via phone or email. Departments are making efforts to ensure minimal disruption to public services during this time. A drop-box is available outside the City Services Center front lobby doors for those dropping off permits, payment, or other paperwork that would normally be dropped off in person at the front counter. A drop-box is also available at the front of City Hall.

Please visit www.cedar-rapids.org for the most updated information on City schedule modifications and closures.

11:35 a.m. Iowa City Senior Center starts ‘Sewing for Seniors’ campaign to make homemade masks for COVID-19

IOWA CITY — The CDC and national health officials are now recommending the use of homemade masks when leaving home. In response, the Iowa City Senior Center is launching a “Sewing for Seniors” project to engage Senior Center volunteers who enjoy sewing to make face masks for local older adults.

The Center will provide the sewing pattern and material needed to make these masks and has partnered with TRAIL of Johnson County for contactless delivery to area seniors.

With older adults at higher risk for more severe complications from COVID-19, the Senior Center hopes to provide masks to as many area seniors as possible, beginning with our over 1,700 members. (Our members will be prompted to request a mask with an update early next week).

Community members interested in supporting this project may donate at https://www.icseniorcenterfriends.org/. Every $5 donation provides five face masks made by and for local seniors to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community.

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All supplies are purchased locally and the project is adhering to all safety and social distancing guidelines.

In this time of social distancing, The Center remains committed to creating opportunities to support wellness, social connections, community engagement and lifelong learning for our diverse and growing older adult population.

Note: these masks are not intended for use as professional-grade personal protection equipment.

11:35 a.m. Linn County extends closure of most county facilities through April 30

LINN COUNTY — To protect the health and safety of Linn County employees and the public, Linn County is extending the closure of most county facilities to the general public through April 30, 2020.

This extension aligns with Gov. Reynold’s proclamation extending statewide closures and prohibiting mass gatherings of 10 or more people. The closure date may be modified as needed. Despite the closure, County staff are still working behind the scenes to help ensure minimal disruption to public services during this time. County staff and services remain available via phone, email, and online. Contact information for all County departments is available at LinnCounty.org.

Services remain available via phone, email and online.

Closures include these County buildings:

Jean Oxley Linn County Public Service Center

Community Services Building — including Options of Linn County

Dr. Percy and Lileah Harris Building — with the exception of the Child Development Center as the Iowa Department of Human services is not recommending closure of child-care facilities at this time

Juvenile Detention and Diversion Services

Secondary Road Department

Wickiup Hill Learning Center

Linn County Sheriff’s Office; the Civil Division will continue to serve legal processes and the Patrol Division will continue to respond to emergency and routine calls for service.

LIFTS — Office is closed to the public, however, routes are still running for essential needs. Fares are waived and the number of riders will be limited during each route.

Exceptions:

The Linn County Child Development Center will remain open as the Iowa Department of Human services is not recommending closure of child-care facilities at this time.

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Linn County Courthouse — normal operating hours; however, restrictions are in place that limit entry to the courthouse

Juvenile Justice Center (Juvenile Courthouse) — normal operating hours

Linn County continues to work with our partners to help ensure the health and safety of our community during this time. Linn County Public Health (LCPH) is working closely with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as local public and private partners in response to COVID-19.

Linn County officials urge all residents to do their part to help slow the spread of COVID-19 by staying home except for essential reasons, maintaining a physical distance of 6 feet between themselves and others, and washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Doing so will help to reduce the spread of the virus, ease the burden on our hospital and health care system, and protect those most vulnerable in our community.

Please visit Linn County’s website, LinnCounty.org/COVID-19, for local updates and related information. A public hotline has been established for Iowans with questions about COVID-19. The line is available 24/7 by calling 2-1-1 or 1-800-469-2211.

10:08 a.m. Garage sales now prohibited in Marion during emergency declaration

MARION — Marion Mayor Nicolas AbouAssaly has issued an order prohibiting garage sales, yard sales and other in-person, private sales from occurring until the March 21, 2020 COVID-19 emergency declaration expires or is canceled.

This measure is intended to support local, state and federal recommendations to discourage groups of more than 10 from gathering and encourage social distancing practices.

The order does not apply to phone or online transactions such as Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or other buy, sell or trade forums so long as the in-person portion of the transaction occurs only between the buyers and sellers of a particular item or items.

The order also does not apply to people or businesses ordinarily engaged in for-profit transactions of a similar nature that are not closed by another order.

View the order and learn more about Marion’s COVID-19 response at this link.

11:21 a.m. Mercy opens second clinic dedicated to respiratory illness

CEDAR RAPIDS — Starting April 6, Mercy is establishing a second dedicated location to care for patients with respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19.

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Patients needing appointments or testing for respiratory illness — such as a cough, difficulty breathing, fever and runny nose — will be directed by their medical provider to either the new site at MercyCare Prairie Creek, 777 76th Ave. Dr. SW in Cedar Rapids, or the previously established clinic at MercyCare Marion Urgent Care, 3701 Katz Drive in Marion. The hours for the MercyCare Prairie Creek clinic are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. MercyCare Marion Urgent Care hours are 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

These respiratory clinics are available for patients with a referral only and not walk-in appointments. Patients should work through their primary care provider or an urgent care clinic for an initial video visit or assessment over the phone to determine the next steps for their care. Patients with severe illness or more complex cases should seek care at Mercy’s Emergency Department by first calling (319) 398-6037.

Ancillary services, such as imaging and testing for COVID-19, are available at both respiratory illness clinics. COVID-19 testing will be conducted with a physician order and in accordance with Iowa Department of Public Health guidelines.

Patients who do not have a primary care provider should call Mercy’s Find-A-Doc line at (319) 369-4444 or go online to schedule an urgent care video visit at www.mercycare.org/videovisit.

10:08 a.m. Upcoming webinar with Sen. Ernst on the federal stimulus package

IOWA CITY — The Iowa City website, icareatogether.com, will host a webinar with Iowa senator Joni Ernst on 10 a.m. Tuesday about the new federal economic stimulus package signed into law late last week. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act allocates $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn, among other things.

Again, the webinar begins at 10 a.m. Here’s a link to the webinar.

10:59 a.m. Canceled in 2020, the 80/35 music festival announces 2021 dates

DES MOINES — Last week, the 80/35 music festival announced that it was canceled in 2020, but declared a 2021 return.

Monday, the festival announced that July 9-10 will be the dates for the 13-year-old music festival.

In a release, concert promoters said, “We are overwhelmed by the positive response we received after announcing our news about this year’s 80/35 music festival cancellation. Thank you for the outpouring of positivity and support.

To keep spirits high, we’re sharing our 2021 festival dates with you. We all need something to look forward to right now. On July 9 and 10, 2021 we will be filling the city with live music for our 14th annual 80/35 music festival!”

11:09 a.m. ISU Extension and Outreach’s family finance program specialists available

AMES — It’s a scary time for Iowans who are suddenly out of work and struggling to pay their bills. Many have never filed for unemployment before and are unsure how to access community assistance and resources.

To help Iowans navigate this crisis, ISU Extension and Outreach’s family finance program specialists are providing one-on-one financial conversations. Cynthia Needles Fletcher, a professor and extension specialist in human development and family studies, says financial educators are available to talk about options for revising a budget, prioritizing bills, paying down debt and connecting Iowans with community resources to stretch reduced incomes.

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“Our goal is to provide accurate information to help Iowans make decisions,” Fletcher said. “We are emphasizing research-based information, non-commercial information in an unbiased approach to help meet some of the real needs in Iowa.”

Iowans can connect with a family finance specialist by phone or email. The conversations are free and confidential. Fletcher says people are more vulnerable during times of crisis and can fall victim to scams or feel overwhelmed by the financial decisions they face.

If you have questions, call Extension and Outreach’s toll-free Iowa Concern Hotline at 800-447-1985 for a referral or contact the family finance specialist for your county.

7:50 a.m. IWD outlines CARES Act benefits and implementation

DES MOINES — Iowa Workforce Development officials on Monday issued new information relating to federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act benefits and implementation for thousands of Iowans who have lost their jobs due to changes brought on by the coronavirus outbreak.

Provisions of the CARES Act enable unemployment benefits for the self-employed, independent contractors, nonprofit employees, gig economy workers, those who have exhausted other unemployment insurance benefits, and those who may not have sufficient work history to qualify for a regular state claim.

The CARES Act also includes eligibility for those receiving unemployment insurance benefits in any amount to be paid an additional $600 weekly benefit, according to IWD officials. After receiving guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor, IWD has begun aligning resources and technology to create the necessary processes to be able to pay qualified individuals their benefits as quickly as possible. Agency officials estimate the new provisions will occur within the next 10 days.

Read more about the benefit programs here.

12:17 p.m. COVID-19 updates from Johnson and Washington County United Way

— Donations

Last Friday, Aramark donated approximately 400 to-go containers for Free Lunch and Salvation Army. United Way of Johnson & Washington County worked with THINKIC to connect these needed items with two of our local feeding programs. If you have access to items such as to-go containers, plastic silverware packs, napkins and/or cups with lids, please reach out to United Way at 319-338-7823.

The Lions Club is inviting the community of Washington to give blood. On Thursday from 1:30-6:30 p.m. the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center will be having a blood drive at the Knights of Columbus (606 W Third Street Washington). To schedule an appointment, please go online at BloodCenter.org. Make sure to use Group Sponsor Code 154, or call Ron Anderson at 319-461-3898.

— Education

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Looking for an alternative to your traditional egg hunt this spring? The City of North Liberty is inviting you to “A Physically Separated Egg Hunt.”

First, choose one or more of their egg images, print it and color it. No printer, no problem. Just draw an egg and decorate it. Next, stick it where it will be visible from the sidewalk and street maybe a front window, on your front door or on your garage door. As families walk around their neighborhoods, they can be on the hunt for eggs.

Remember: Being outside is OK, but please us social distancing and a maintain 6-foot separation from others.

— Health

If your teen is feeling isolated, stressed or just plain bored, United Action for Youth is here for you.

For the past several weeks, UAY has been offering virtual support groups, art workshops, music lessons and D & D groups to junior high and high school students. Remember, when talking with teens, be patient and explore the feelings below the surface.

To learn more, click HERE. If things are getting too stressful between you and your child, please call UAY at 319-338-7518 and a counselor will call you back.

UI Mobile Clinic provides free health screening, prevention, education, and basic health services to underserved populations in and around Iowa City. Their mission is to serve you. They use interdisciplinary skills from the health sciences at the University of Iowa to help treat, raise awareness of existing local health resources for those ailments they cannot address and to help connect you to the resources that best fit your needs.

Call or text (319) 535-2684 to request a FREE phone or webcam medical appointment.

— Financial stability

The United Way also wanted to share a timely resource for Iowa families in need. The Health Well Foundation is providing up to $250 in assistance for families — via phone applications only — with costs associated with delivered food, medication diagnostics, transportation and telehealth as a result of COVID-19 risk or incidence.

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If you or anyone you know needs financial assistance for any of these supports, please reach out to Financial Assistance to Families.

3:47 p.m. Alzheimer’s Association offers free virtual education classes for all Iowa residents

CEDAR RAPIDS — The Alzheimer’s Association Iowa Chapter is offering free virtual education programs and support groups in the coming weeks to help all Iowa caregivers and their families. The Alzheimer’s Association offers a number of education programs that can help those living with Alzheimer’s and their families understand what to expect so they can be prepared to meet the changes ahead and live well for as long as possible.

Each virtual education program is approximately one hour and allows the audience to ask questions and engage with others going through the journey online.

Upcoming virtual education programs across Iowa include

Healthy Living for Your Brain & Body on Monday, April 6, 4:30—5:30 p.m.

Effective Communication Strategies on Tuesday, April 7, 1 p.m. — 2 p.m.

10 Warning Signs on Tuesday, April 14, 4 p.m. — 5 p.m.

For a complete list of upcoming programs, or to register for a program, visit alz.org/crf or contact Kara Fishburn at kmfishburn@alz.org or 319.238.7641. In addition to the virtual education classes, the Alzheimer’s Association offers online community resources at alz.org including ALZConnected®, a free online community where people living with Alzheimer’s, caregivers, family and friends can ask questions, get advice and find support.

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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.