CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus in Iowa, live updates for May 19: Safety materials sent to polling places ahead of June 2 primary

A plasma collection or apheresis machine separates whole blood into its component parts at the Mississippi Valley Region
A plasma collection or apheresis machine separates whole blood into its component parts at the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, May 14, 2020. Plasma collected from recovered COVID-19 patients is being used as a therapy in the treatment of the coronavirus disease. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

1:01 p.m. LIHEAP Applications Deadline Extended To June 30

The deadline for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program has been extended to June 30, according to a release from the Iowa Department of Human Rights.

LIHEAP is part of the recent Cares Act passed by Congress to help in paying utility bills for families who have lost employment or seen hours of employment reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Iowa Department of Human Rights says help is available through the state’s network of local community action agencies that have offices in all 99 counties. Families can apply for the Energy Assistance program at their local community action agency, which is a program that can help pay a portion of an eligible household’s utility bills.

Eligibility is based on household size and income. Those who have not already applied, or, who are facing disconnection, are encouraged to do so at this time.

Community action agencies also have other types of help available, such as food and clothing pantries, and other services. You can find a link to information about your local community action agency by going to the Iowa Department of Human Rights website at https://humanrights.iowa.gov/dcaa/where-apply or by dialing 2-1-1.

9:50 a.m. U of I AirCare Copters To Fly Around Eastern Iowa In Formation Wednesday

In honor of National EMS week and in a show of solidarity during the COVID-19 era, two of our AirCare helicopters will fly in formation throughout communities in Eastern Iowa on Wednesday.

Community members are invited to show their support for EMS and other frontline healthcare workers by waving to the pilots and crews as they fly overhead. The public is encouraged to continue practicing safe social distancing guidelines during this flyover event.

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The flyover is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. in the Cedar Rapids area, then head to Muscatine (9:30), North Liberty/Coralville/Iowa City (9:45), Maquoketa (11), Galena, Ill. (11:20), Dubuque (11:30), Independence (1 p.m.), Oelwein (1:10), Waverly (1:30) and Waterloo/Cedar Falls (1:45).

9:42 a.m. MSI Mold Builders Of C.R. Makes, Donates “Ear Savers” For Surgical Masks

MSI Mold Builders of Cedar Rapids has partnered with health organizations around the country to build a mold that produces “ear savers” that improve the fit of surgical masks during this COVID-19 pandemic.

MSI said it received a call in mid-April from Prisma Health, the largest non-profit health organization in South Carolina, with a request for the “ear saver” molds for its 32,000 employees. The “ear savers” are “made from 100% recycled polyethylene and are small plastic adapters that improves the fit of surgical masks to make them more comfortable for long-term wear.”

MSI designed and built the “ear saver” mold for free, and the company will be donating the molded parts. In addition to Prisma Health, MSI has committed parts to other facilities at no cost, including Mercy Health in Iowa City.

9:05 a.m. Safety Materials Shipped To Polling Places Ahead of June 2 Primary Vote

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the Iowa National Guard have partnered to deliver masks, gloves and hand sanitizer to polling places ahead of a June 2 primary vote.

The Secretary of State’s office is also shipping social distancing markers and face shields to all 99 counties for use at the polls. More than $500,000 in additional funding is being provided to the counties to cover the costs of other safety materials. The funds were made possible by federal grants.

“Protecting voters and poll workers while making sure every eligible Iowan is able to safely cast a ballot is our goal,” Pate said. “Polls will be open on June 2 and we want Iowans who choose to vote in-person to know we’re taking precautions to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.”

Although polls will be open on June 2, many counties are consolidating polling locations. Voters are encouraged to check with their county auditor or visit the Secretary of State’s website for more information. Iowans can also vote absentee from home or at a location designated by their county auditor. The deadline to request an absentee ballot to be mailed is this Friday, May 22. For more information about your voting options, visit VoterReady.Iowa.gov.

Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

 

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Our most important Coronavirus coverage is free to the public.

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All donations are tax-deductible.