2020 Session Pause – Week 10 – Early Edition

Legislative Update:

The Legislature is preparing to return Wednesday, June 3. We don’t have many details on how they will conduct business or how we will be able to engage with legislators. We will keep you up to date as more information becomes available.

 

The Revenue Estimating Committee (REC) meets next Friday, May 29 at 1:00 PM. The REC report will inform the budgets, based on the most recent economy and COVID-19 information. The meeting will be livestreamed on LSA’s YouTube channel.

 

Relevant COVID-19 Updates:

 

Iowa’s COVID-19 Cases

The State’s coronavirus website is undergoing planned maintenance starting Saturday 5/23- Monday 5/25. As of Friday (5/22) this is the following information available through the State’s coronavirus website. We are 12 weeks into the pandemic being documented in Iowa. There are 16,4115 positive cases in 98 counties, 424 deaths total, and 8,917 have recovered in Iowa. Over 119,000 Iowans have been tested total, meaning 1 in 26 Iowans have been tested. There remain 36 confirmed long-term care facility outbreaks.

 

There are status reports of monitoring and testing of COVID-19 in Iowa provided by IDPH and can be found here. In addition, 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 1-800-244-7431.

 

State Updates

Reopening:

  • On Friday 5/22 the State reopened movie theaters, zoos, aquariums, museums, wedding reception venues, swimming pools, and auctions with industry specific guidelines. The proclamation also included licensing and registration regulatory relief, the reopening of bars on May 28, and allowed school-sponsored activities on June 1.
  • On Wednesday 5/20 the Iowa Department of Natural Resources announced the reopening of restrooms, shower facilities, and cabins in State Parks in preparation for Memorial Day. Lodges, youth campsites, and other programming remain close.

 

Testing & Treatment:

  • On Tuesday 5/19 IDPH announced all serology tests fall under the mandatory reporting order. IDPH will report this on the state’s coronavirus website. IDPH is utilizing an Abbott serology test for select patients, including those who are interested in plasma donation. IDPH is analyzing these results and following up with these individuals to study immunity and long-term impact.
  • On Thursday 5/21 Governor Reynolds expanded the criteria to qualify for Test Iowa to allow anyone who believes they should be tested. People interested in being tested are encouraged to take the online assessment. If you previously took the online assessment, you will have to take it again to qualify for a COVID-19 test.
  • On Friday 5/22 the Governor Reynolds announced that the Sioux City Test Iowa site closed at the end of the day. New sites are opening in the coming week in Marshalltown, Sioux Center, and Council Bluffs.

 

Resources:

  • On Tuesday 5/19 the Governor announced Iowa has requested the Trump Administration extend the Title 32 order through June and will likely further extend through July, which allows for the National Guard service men and women to be utilized for testing, PPE distribution, and other COVID-19 related duties. The order is currently set to expire at the end of May.

 

Unemployment:

  • On Thursday, 5/21 the Iowa Workforce Development released the unemployment insurance claims report for the week of 5/10 – 5/16. A total of 13,040 initial claims were filed, a decrease from the previous week. The industries with the most claims remain manufacturing, health care and social assistance, and self-employed/independent contractors. Unemployment insurance benefits totaled over $50 billion. Over $106 million in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) benefits has been paid, with over $651 million total in benefits paid out.
  • On Friday 5/22 Reynolds announced that the trigger for employers to be charged unemployment tax had not been met. She also confirmed that CARES Act funds can be used to backfill the Unemployment Trust Fund.

 

Economy:

  • On Tuesday 5/19 the Iowa Fiscal Partnership released a report assessing the fiscal outlook of the State. According to Moody’s Analytics, the state revenue losses are likely to be 15% or more. IFP suggests that while the federal pieces of legislation provide assistance for state and local governments, IFP predicts additional funding is necessary to avoid major budget cuts.
  • Tuesday 5/26 is the deadline for Iowa’s humanities organizations to apply for the Iowa Arts & Culture Emergency Relief Grants. This program is administered by the Iowa Arts Council- Iowa Dept. of Cultural Affairs.

 

Child Care:

  • On Tuesday 5/19 Dir. Garcia provided an update on child care. DHS released new guidance on child care on 5/21. These facilities will be mandatory reporters of any COVID-19 outbreaks. DHS has provided financial support to child care facilities. For families who are in need of child care, DHS has a website to find available child care provider.

 

Education:

  • On June 1 schools will be allowed to reopen for summer learning activities and extra curriculars including: academic enrichment, summer school, and sports. Schools may provide on-site in-person opportunities or online opportunities. DOE released guidance on reopening for in-person activities on Thursday 5/21. While the summer sports season is allowed to resume, out-of-season opportunities and weight rooms remain closed. DOE anticipates new decision guidance on July 1.