CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus in Iowa, live updates for March 23: Linn County Sheriff's Office closed to public

Iowa City Transit bus
Iowa City Transit bus

5:15 P.M. Linn County Sheriff’s Office closes to public

Linn County Sheriff Brian Gardner said the office will be closed to the public immediately because there had been documented cases of COVID-19 in the county. All of the divisions remain operational, employees continue to report for duty, and the public is being advised to connect with the office by phone, email, and through the website. Information concerning specific division operations can be found on the website.

Gardner said the civil division will continue to serve legal processes and the patrol division will continue to respond to emergency and routine calls for service. Certain patrol calls may be handled over the phone, rather than through in-person contact with a deputy.

The Linn County Correctional Center remains open, although all inmates serving a jail sentence have been temporarily furloughed by the court and have been released from custody, Gardner said. Inmate visitation has been suspended.

4:30 p.m. Iowa Secretary of State extends absentee voting for June primary

Secretary of State Paul Pate is extending the absentee voting period to 40 days for Iowans who choose to vote by mail in the June primary. He is also encouraging Iowans to cast ballots by mail, in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

This change will allow voters more time to send their ballots and provide county auditors a longer window for processing.

Curbside voting, as always, is an option for Iowans with disabilities and those who might have difficulty entering a polling place. This option also will be available in the June primary to voters who are in the high-risk population for the coronavirus.

The absentee voting period for mailed ballots in the June primary will begin on April 23. Iowans can request an absentee ballot from their county auditor now. For more information, visit VoterReady.Iowa.gov.

3:30 p.m. Delta Dental offers $10.5 million in relief programs for Iowa dentists and nonprofits

Delta Dental of Iowa and the Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation are rolling out two relief programs that offer Iowa dentists and nonprofits assistance during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a news release, $10 million has been allocated for Iowa dentists through the Advance Claims Payment Program, which will provide dentists with 50% of their average claims payment for four weeks.

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Additionally, the Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation has committed $500,000 for the COVID-19 Nonprofit Emergency Operating Relief Fund, which will provide operating grants up to $10,000 to Iowa nonprofit organizations focused on providing health and wellness services or addressing food insecurity needs during this crisis.

In Iowa, most dental offices are small businesses with less than 20 employees, the news release states, and thousands of Iowans are employed by the dental industry. With many dental offices closed or only providing limited services, there will be a significant financial impact on these employees.

Dentists can request funds through April 17 by contacting Delta Dental’s professional relations team at provrelations@deltadentalia.com.

1:45 p.m. Linn County rolling out temporary employment policy for county employees

The Linn County Board of Supervisors has adopted a temporary employment policy for Linn County employees in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The policy will help ensure the health and safety of Linn County employees while providing for continuity of essential Linn County government services for residents.

The temporary measures include provisions for infection control practices, remote work for designated Linn County staff and guidelines for employee leave related to COVID-19.

Telework is voluntary at this time and is allowed for eligible employees at the discretion of the department head or elected official for the period of the pandemic.

“The voluntary remote work allowance is to help follow the social distancing guidance by isolating our workforce and not requiring those who can perform their job duties remotely to come to work,” Human Resources Director Lisa Powell said. “However, due to the public-facing nature of county government services, only about 25 percent of Linn County employees can work remotely.”

Most Linn County offices are already closed to the public to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the health of the public and County staff.

County services remain operational and available to the public either online or via phone or email.

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Contact information for all Linn County departments is available at LinnCounty, org.

12:30 p.m. Iowa City Library pares staff in response to Coronavirus

In response to the joint mayors’ statement Sunday, the Iowa City Public Library said it is releasing most staff from on-site work assignments through at least April 12.

Telephone service will be temporarily suspended starting at noon Monday.

The library’s live chat online still is available at https://www.icpl.org/services/ask between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

All online resources will remain available through the library’s website at https://www.icpl.org/.

Video story times and other activities are available on the library’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/icpubliclibrary/.

10:30 a.m. Golf courses to remain open, Gov. Reynolds says

Gov. Kim Reynolds said Monday that golf courses in Iowa are currently not subject to her recent emergency orders that have closed a number of businesses around Iowa — including bars, restaurants, casinos and health clubs — in hopes of curtailing the spread of the coronavirus in Iowa.

“We are not,” the governor told a golf course official who posed the question of whether she planned to close the facilities during a radio call-in show Monday morning.

“It’s outside. We believe that’s an activity where you can practice social distancing and still be able to get outdoors and get some exercise,” Reynolds Said. “So we are not, but we continue … to again tell people to just practice social distancing when you’re out taking part in that activity.”

9:50 a.m. Free parking, free transit services to continue in Iowa City

As communities continue to grapple with the impacts of the coronavirus, Iowa City has announced it will make parking decks free and transit services will continue to operate at spring break service levels.

The Downtown Free Shuttle, the AM & PM Eastside Loop will not operate for the time being, the city said, and all other services will be provided per normal schedules and times.

Services will continue to be free of charge.

City officials are urging people to stay home and limit transit trips to those that are absolutely essential.

9:30 a.m. Eastern Iowa Diaper Bank to help with growing need for diapers

The Eastern Iowa Diaper Bank, a collaboration of area nonprofit organizations, will start giving away diapers and wipes Monday in response to the growing need for diapers because of the coronavirus.

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The diaper bank will begin distributing diapers and wipes to residents who are affected by the current situation and do not have an adequate supply of diapers for their children.

Diapers will be distributed to those not currently enrolled in EIDB from 1 to 5 p.m. on Mondays. The limit is 50 diapers per family, every two weeks.

EIDB is operating on a drive-through model where residents are asked to pull to the back of the diaper bank — 420 Sixth St. SE, No. 180 in Cedar Rapids — into the alley off Sixth Street. An EIDB employee will assist people while they remain in the car.

Current EIDB participants should follow the reduced hours and guidelines posted on social media.

Like other organizations and companies, EIDB is struggling to maintain supplies because of COVID-19. Residents who are able are asked to consider a “virtual” donation through the EIDB Amazon Wish List or by shopping online at their retailer of choice and sending diapers to EIDB.

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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.