Coronavirus in Iowa, live updates for May 7: Gazette awards more than $60,000 in marketing grants, FEMA awards $78 million to Iowa

A sign is posted at Pita'z Mediterranean and American Cuisine in Hiawatha on Monday, May 4, 2020. Pita'z has been donati
A sign is posted at Pita’z Mediterranean and American Cuisine in Hiawatha on Monday, May 4, 2020. Pita’z has been donating meals to local hospitals and nursing home staff, and Joe Sample has stepped up to help deliver them. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

Gazette awards more than $60,000 in marketing grants

The Gazette has awarded more than $60,000 in grants to help local businesses market themselves during the coronavirus pandemic, and there’s more help available.

“We awarded $50,000 in the first 10 days,” said Kelly Homewood, Director of Operations at The Gazette. “That tells us the need is real. The help necessary. We’re a locally owned business too, and in Iowa we lift each other up in challenging times.”

The grant program, which launched April 17, awarded $50,393 to more than 60 businesses in the first 10 days. To date, almost $68,000 has been awarded to 75 businesses.

“The Gazette’s Matching Program is a true testament to their commitment to our community and their small business advertisers,” said Annie Hills, marketing manager at Destinations Unlimited. “As a local small business, this program will be a huge benefit to our agency in such an unprecedented time so that we can continue to connect with our clients.”

The program allocates up to $100,000 in matching advertising dollars to assist local businesses that apply. There’s still approximately $32,000 in matching grants still available to award by July 31. Businesses can apply online at

FEMA awards $78 million to Iowa for COVID-19 response

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has obligated $78 million to the state of Iowa to help reimburse eligible expenses for emergency protective measures that the state has incurred as a result of its response to COVID-19.

The grant funds, awarded by FEMA’s Public Assistance (PA) Grant Program, were made available Thursday. FEMA has provided nearly $150 million to date in support of the state’s COVID-19 efforts.


The money reimburses 75 percent of projected eligible costs associated with buying essential Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and medical supplies and equipment during the months of May and June 2020.

This obligation also includes: $19.5 million in contract services for TestIowa, $35,000 in contract services associated with overseas PPE purchases and $13.7 million for additional medical supplies and equipment for the month of April. All figures represent the 75 percent federal share. The 25 percent is paid by the grant recipient.

Linn County Conservation campgrounds to open Friday

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a new proclamation allowing campgrounds in the state of Iowa to open.

The proclamation states:

“Any public or private campground may reopen provided that the campground implements reasonable measures under the circumstances of each campground to ensure social distancing, increased hygiene practices, and other public health measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 consistent with guidance issued by the Iowa Department of Public Health (5/6/20).”

Linn County Conservation has continued to seek guidance from local and state health officials and are announcing that campgrounds will open Friday with certain restrictions and limitations.

At 5 a.m. on May 8, Buffalo Creek Park, Morgan Creek Park, Pinicon Ridge Park and Squaw Creek Park campgrounds will open to campers in self-contained units. This also includes primitive (non-electric) camping areas at Matsell Bridge Natural Area (including Mount Hope) and Wakpicada Natural Area.

Campers may camp only with a self-contained camping unit that has a functioning restroom, as showerhouses with flushable restrooms will remain closed. Self-contained is defined as a tent or pop-up camper with a portable toilet or an RV or camping trailer with a functioning, self-contained bathroom.

Occupants are limited to six or less per camp site (unless household is more than six). No visitors are allowed. Campground showerhouses with restrooms will remain closed.


Reserving campsites is not allowed as campgrounds continue to be first-come, first-served. The exception to this is Squaw Creek Park A-Loop which normally accepts online reservations at, starting Friday at 1 p.m.

Linn County Conservation’s lodges, shelters, cabins and group camps remain closed.


Hy-Vee offers two-hour express grocery pickup

Hy-Vee Inc., announced Friday that it is now offering a two-hour express pickup option as part of its Hy-Vee Aisles Online grocery ordering service, allowing customers to pay a fee to pick up their order faster.

Customers will see a “Get It Faster” option on Aisles Online time slots where the two-hour pickup option is available. A limited number of two-hour pickup orders will be available for $9.95, from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. daily, at all Hy-Vee store locations offering Aisles Online services.

Cedar Rapids-area students honored with light display during Graduation Week

The lights on Alliant Energy’s Cedar Rapids Tower will change colors to recognize area high schools and honor the Class of 2020.

“In this time of uncertainty, it’s important to remember that brighter days are up ahead,”

said Linda Mattes, Vice President of IT and Customer Operations. “Changing the lights on our tower is our way of celebrating this important milestone in the lives of these students and their families.”

Each Cedar Rapids-area high school’s colors will be on display. The schedule:

May 21 — Washington High School — Red and blue

May 22 — Jefferson High School — Blue and white

May 23 — Kennedy High School — Green and gold

May 24 — Linn-Mar High School — Red and black

May 25 — Marion High School — Crimson and gold

May 26 — Prairie High School — Orange and black

May 27 — Xavier High School — Navy and silver

May 28 — Metro High School — Purple and black


MusicIC Festival cancels June in-person programming

What was planned to be the 10th annual MusicIC Festival has been canceled. Programming planned for June 18-20 will be pushed to summer 2021.

The festival, presented by the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature, will offer alternate programming. In place of the in-person performances this year, the festival will offer video performances from musicians to be highlighted in the 2021 season.

Details about these video performances will be forthcoming.



Grounds and grandstand entertainment canceled at 2020 Linn County Fair

Due to the ongoing social distancing guidelines and additional precautions taking place to help slow and reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Linn County Fair Association is canceling the grounds and grandstand entertainment for the 2020 Linn County Fair, scheduled for June 24-28.

The Linn County Fair Association, in partnership with the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach of Linn County and Linn County 4-H, still plan on providing opportunities to 4-Her’s, FFA members, and youth of Linn County to showcase their talents and accomplishments at this year’s fair.

Details regarding the 4-H/FFA exhibits and events are still being finalized and Linn County 4-H plans to email details to 4-H/FFA members in mid-May.


Bike to Work Week Postponed Until September

To encourage safe and responsible social distancing practices during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cedar Rapids’ Bike to Work Week activities — traditionally held in May — will be postponed and are tentatively scheduled for September 21-27.

This will include events such as the Mayor’s bike ride and proclamation, pit stops, group rides, and wrap-up party.

Von Maur stores reopening Friday

Von Maur announced it will reopen stores in Cedar Rapids, Coralville and Cedar Falls using reduced hours and safety measures starting Friday.

The reduced hours will be from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

Von Maur said it will be implementing daily employee health screenings, social distancing measures, contactless payments, curbside service options and sanitizing and cleaning procedures in common areas and after each customer transaction. Its aforementioned stores are at Lindale Plaza, Iowa River Landing and College Square Mall.

Online Czech language lessons offered


The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library recently partnered with Anna Cooková, an instructor with CzechTalk, to offer online Czech language and culture lessons.

Beginner’s Czech Language & Culture I begins on Thursday, June 4. Each class will be held from 8 to 9:30 p.m. every Thursday from June 4 through August 6. During the 15 hours of instruction over 10 weeks, participants will learned to read, write, and speak in Czech.

The cost is $210 for NCSML members, $235 for non-members. This fee includes all course materials. The class size is limited to 20 students, so interested individuals are encouraged to register early to secure a spot.

Contact Cooková for a registration form at or 715-651-7044.

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