LRH enacts visitor restrictions
Lakes Regional Healthcare is restricting visitors, beginning immediately. At this point, one of the patient's immediate family members or the patient's primary caregiver will only be allowed to visit if they do not have any COVID-19 symptoms, which include a fever of 100 degrees or over, cough, or shortness of breath, and if they have not traveled in the last 30 days outside the U.S. or within the U.S. to areas known to have COVID-19 cases. This restriction applies to visitors of patients in all areas within Lakes Regional Healthcare until further notice.
News about coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has been alarming to many. It's concerning because it's a new virus, is spreading relatively quickly, currently has no vaccine and has a higher death rate than other respiratory viruses such as the flu.
People in Iowa are still at low risk for contracting the virus. Regardless, LRH, Lakes Family Practice and Spirit Lake Medical Center have developed a protocol for how to identify, isolate, and treat those possibly infected with COVID-19, which are people:
1. With respiratory symptoms (cough, fever, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing)
2. Who have traveled outside the US or in areas of the US with confirmed cases within the last 14 days OR have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19
Their goal is to identify these people soon, preferably over the phone or at the point of entry to the hospital's campus. Visitors and patients who meet either of the above criteria are to stay outside the hospital in a vehicle and call the following numbers based on their appointment/location:
|712-336-3750||Lakes Family Practice|
|712-336-2410||Spirit Lake Medical Center or east hospital entrance|
|712-339-6150||South hospital entrance|
A hospital or clinic representative will then meet them at their car, provide them with a face mask to wear, and cover them with a sheet or blanket. They will then be brought into the hospital and directly into a private, closed door exam room to receive care. Healthcare providers will complete the patient’s exam wearing a gown, gloves, mask, and eye protection.
"After the patient leaves, the exam room will sit undisturbed for four hours to allow air handlers to cycle the air in the room," LRH Assistant Chief Nursing Office Chris Ingraham said,The room will also be cleaned with approved disinfectant by a person wearing personal protective equipment. We also have plans in place in case the rooms can’t be turned over quickly enough to meet the volume of patients to be seen."
According to Ingraham, the community should be alert but not anxious. He said, "We are well-prepared for this. Yes, it is wise to take steps to protect yourself and others, but at this point COVID-19 is a threat, but not a crisis."
There are simple things you can do to help keep yourself and others healthy:
1. Wash your hands often.
Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. Also, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
2. Avoid close contact with others.
Stay at least 6 feet away from people who are sick. COVID-19 is spread by droplets that land on surfaces upon touch or by sneezing and coughing.
3. Stay at home if you are sick.
Spirit Lake Medical Center physician and Dickinson County Public Health Medical Director Zach Borus, MD, MPH advises people who are sick with a mild respiratory illness to stay home instead of going to the doctor. He said, “If you’re not severely ill, we’ll probably ask you to stay home for a couple of weeks, testing your temperature twice a day. Most people have only mild symptoms and it’s best to stay home to prevent spreading it to others, as your body fights off the virus. If it gets worse, then we’d have you come to the hospital.”
4. Cover coughs and sneezes.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Otherwise use the inside of your elbow. After sneezing or coughing, throw used tissues in the trash. Then immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If they are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer.
5. Wear a facemask IF YOU ARE SICK.
If you are sick, you should wear a facemask when you are around other people, such as sharing a room or a vehicle, and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. Lakes Regional Healthcare has implemented a protocol for patients and visitors that are sick with upper respiratory illnesses to call them before entering their hospital or doctors’ offices (see above).
6. Clean and disinfect daily.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily, such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks. If surfaces are dirty, clean them with a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection. Use disinfectants appropriate for the surface. An option includes diluting your household bleach by mixing 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) bleach per gallon of water. Be sure the bleach is not past its expiration. Also, be sure to never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.
Although COVID-19 may be concerning, it’s important to put the virus into perspective. At this point, according to the CDC, 81% of people infected with the COVID-19 virus have a mild illness, 14% have a moderate to severe illness, and 5% have a critical illness. The death rate of the virus is roughly 2%. This compares to the flu’s death rate of .1 to .2%, but it also compares to Ebola’s 50% death rate, SARS’ 10% death rate, and the 30% death rate of the 2012 MERS virus.
Those interested in more information or with questions are encouraged to visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html.
IDPH GIVES WIC GUIDANCE
The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) is deploying a comprehensive approach to address food insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC, will continue for all current, and new or returning WIC participants. IDPH submitted and received approval of several federal waivers to Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) to ensure continued and expanded access to WIC foods.
Families First Coronavirus Response Act details:
• WIC is available to support you. WIC benefits will continue as normal. Call your clinic with questions.
• April's WIC benefits will be available for use on Wednesday, April 1.
When shopping for WIC items, please consider the following shopping tips during this time:
• When shopping, please be patient. Stores want to provide what you need, but they have been extremely busy and are working hard to stock the shelves as quickly as possible.
• When shopping, planning ahead and arriving at the store earlier in the day may help you find the products needed.
• When shopping, use the CDC guidelines for social distancing. At this time WIC food purchases can only be redeemed inside of WIC approved stores.
• Call ahead and be sure your store's hours haven't changed.
• WIC foods will be available throughout the entire month of April — the rumors that WIC foods will run out is not true.
• Purchase what you would normally purchase. There is no reason to stockpile food. Both your benefits and the food products in stores will be available throughout the month.
• If you are having issues finding specific WIC foods, call your WIC clinic or the state WIC office at 1-515-281-6650 for assistance.
CARES CARNIVAL ON HOLD
Given the uncertainty surrounding the current COVID-19 outbreak and taking into consideration the recommendations from state and federal agencies to limit gatherings, Dickinson-Emmet County CARES (Community Advocates Ready to Empower Survivors) has decided to cancel the fourth annual carnival scheduled for April 25 at the Dickinson County Expo Building. in Spirit Lake.
We organize the carnival to provide awareness and funds for the Family Crisis Center (FCC) and the Center Against Abuse and Sexual Assault (CAASA). Both agencies provide invaluable services to victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, homicide, and other violent crimes in northwest Iowa, including Dickinson & Emmet Counties. Thank you for supporting our event and community.
LOCAL FOOD PANTRIES RESPOND TO COVID-19 OUTBREAK
Dickinson County Food Pantries are continuing to serve clients during the COVID-19 outbreak, but with some changes. In order to comply with the guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and authorities, the pantries are still serving while adhering to social distancing. Pantries are also considered essential and will continue to operate. If you need assistance getting food from a pantry, please enter your request at iglcoronarelief.org.
Good News Community Church — 712-332-5698 - 1010 Julia St., Okoboji
• 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month, 9-11 a.m.
• Process: remain in vehicle. A pantry member will bring pre-packed groceries to your vehicle. Check-in procedures and paperwork will be completed at your vehicle.
Spirit Life Fellowship Church — 712-336-0114 - 2504 Enterprise Ave., Spirit Lake
• 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month, 8-10 a.m.
Lake Park Mobile Pantry — 712-832-3401
• First Thursday of every month, 4:30-6:30 p.m.
• Process: remain in vehicle. A pantry member will bring pre-packed groceries to your vehicle. Check-in procedures and paperwork will be completed at your vehicle.
Upper Des Moines — 712-336-1112 - 1575 18th St., Spirit Lake
• Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
• Process: remain in vehicle. A pantry member will bring pre-packed groceries to the curbside. Check-in procedures and paperwork will be completed at your vehicle.
Crossroads Food Pantry – 712-362-4390 - 2014 Central Ave., Estherville
• First Thursday of every month, 4-6 p.m.
• Do not arrive before 3 p.m.
• Process: Remain in vehicle. A pantry member will bring pre-packed groceries to your vehicle. Check-in procedures and paperwork will be completed at your vehicle.
Okoboji Community Schools Food Distribution – see locations below
• Monday – Friday, see times below
• Breakfast and lunch meal
• For any resident of Okoboji school district 18 and under
• Pick-up Locations (stay in vehicle):
— Okoboji High School (8-9 a.m.)
— Milford: St. Joseph's Parking Lot (9:30-10 a.m.)
— Arnolds Park: OMS Parking Lot (9:30-10 a.m.)
— Fostoria: Farmers Savings Bank Parking Lot (9:30-10 a.m.)
— Okoboji Elementary Playground Parking Lot (9:30-10 a.m.)
Spirit Lake Community School District (as of March 15)
• For qualified free and/or reduced lunch students a breakfast and lunch meal via grab and go is available.
• Pick-ups take place from 8-9:15 a.m. at the food service loading dock on the south side of the Elementary/Middle School building.
GREEN WASTE ONLY AT RECYCLING CENTER
For the safety of the community and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dickinson Recycling Center in Milford will be restricting person-to-person contact by accepting only green waste, such as grass, leaves and brush, as of Monday, April 6. No other materials will be accepted at this time.
A payment dropbox will be set up in the office window. A two-way speaker system will be on hand when staff is available, otherwise payments may be put into an envelope and placed in the dropbox for green waste disposal. Only cash or check payments will be accepted.
Yard waste is 50 cents per bag, $10 for a one-axle trailer or pick-up, $20 for a two-axle trailer or single-axle truck, $30 for a double-axle truck or $60 for a roll-off or side-dump truck. These measures will stay in place until further notice. Check dickinsonrecycling.com for the latest updates. The Dickinson Recycling Center is open for green waste disposal 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. For questions, please call 712-338-2549 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
ISU EXTENSION OFFERS GROCERY 'BEST PRACTICES'
Best practices while grocery shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic is a hot topic in the media, according to Iowa State University Extension and Outreach food safety and nutrition and wellness specialists Angela Shaw, Anirudh Naig and Shannon Coleman.
Shaw is a food safety state specialist and associate professor in the ISU Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. Naig is a food safety state specialist and associate professor in the ISU Department of Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management. Coleman is an assistant professor and nutrition and wellness state specialist in the ISU Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. They want Iowans to know some key considerations to safely shop for groceries and stay well.
The specialists answer the following questions.
Can I get sick with COVID-19 from touching food or food packaging if the coronavirus was present on it?
• According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, currently, there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19.
• Like other viruses, the COVID-19 virus seeks a living host, preferring humans, to survive and thus COVID-19 does not survive long periods of time (more than a day) on surfaces or objects such as door handles and stainless-steel tables.
What steps can I take to minimize risk when shopping at the grocery store?
• Prepare a list of the items you need at the store to minimize the amount of time within the store.
• Shop during hours that will be less busy, such as early in the morning and later at night.
• Before heading for the store, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.
• Do not go shopping when showing symptoms or if you think you have been exposed to the virus.
• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the use of cloth face masks when shopping in grocery stores where social distancing is not possible. CDC states that "cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure. The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators."
• Use pick-up or home delivery options with local stores.
• Sanitize your shopping cart and basket handles before and after use. Grocery stores should have sanitization wipes near the entrance of the store.
• Maintain social distancing of 6 feet as much as possible while shopping.
• Use your eyes and not your hands. Avoid touching surfaces or items unnecessarily. For example, avoid touching or picking up produce and then placing it back on the shelf.
• Avoid touching your mouth, nose, or face.
• Use self-check lines instead of a cashier. This minimizes the person-to-person interaction, and machines are cleaned regularly.
• Avoid using cash and opt to use a card or an electronic means to pay. If you use the card to purchase, sanitize after use with a sanitizer wipe.
• Wash your hands and/or use hand sanitizer after you shop.
• Handwashing is preferred over gloves. Research has shown that most consumers use gloves inappropriately. Specifically, consumers have been shown to touch their face with the gloves on.
What is my grocery store doing to minimize my risk?
• Most stores are following CDC guidelines on cleaning and disinfection. Many stores have reduced their open hours to allow for cleaning and disinfection between days.
• CDC also recommends asking all employees if they are sick and instructing them to stay home. In addition, most stores have a strict questioning process to ensure employees stay home if they have symptoms.
• Stores may also be providing sanitizer to customers and asking sick customers to leave.
When you get home with your groceries, there is no need to clean and sanitize the outside of the food packages, but it is a good practice to wash your hands after you have put away all the groceries.
RESIDENTS URGED TO WEAR CLOTH MASKS TO PREVENT SPREAD OF COVID-19
Lakes Regional Healthcare urges residents to wear cloth face masks in the presence of others and in public settings such as in grocery stores and pharmacies. Use of face masks is not a substitute for social distancing. Cloth masks help slow the spread of the coronavirus by keeping droplets contained and help people who may unknowingly have the virus from transmitting it to others.
Cloth face masks should be washed frequently, ideally after each use. A washing machine should suffice in properly washing a face mask.
The cloth face masks recommended are not surgical masks or N95 respirators. Surgical masks and N95 respirators are critical supplies that must be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance. Anyone interested in sewing and donating masks may call 712-336-8799 or email email@example.com.
8:20 a.m. Monday, March 30 — Curbside library pickup begins
The Spirit Lake Public Library will begin curbside pickup on Wednesday, April 1 (no fooling)! Check the library's website (slpublib.com) or Facebook page for more information.
7:01 a.m. Monday, March 30 — Iowa Workforce Development updates leave policy
Iowa Workforce Development has implemented updates to its leave policy for filing unemployment insurance benefits following the enactment of the CARES Act. Effective immediately, employees who are or will be laid off, or are unable to work for reasons related to COVID-19, will no longer be required to use all paid leave prior to being eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. This change is not retroactive and claims will not be backdated prior to the week of March 29 for new or existing claims by individuals who work for employers.
The policy requiring claimants to use all available paid leave prior to filing for unemployment benefits was necessary to help sustain the Iowa Unemployment Trust Fund, which is funded entirely by employers doing business in Iowa and is the source of all benefit payments to claimants. The enactment of the CARES Act has provided a significant source of additional funding for claimants, and this policy change reflects the evolving situation.
The CARES Act benefit programs will expand the group of people eligible for unemployment benefits to include the self-employed, independent contractors, nonprofit employees, and gig economy workers as well as workers who have exhausted their benefits. Iowa Workforce Development will continue to share more information as guidance from the Department of Labor is received.
Due to the complexity of program requirements, this process will take time. As the programs become available, IWD will post updates on our website, and share through media outlets and social media. We appreciate your patience as we work through the details.
For updates about COVID-19-related information, please visit IowaWorkforceDevelopment.gov.
8:43 p.m. Friday, March 27 — MUGS extends suspension of activities
Due to the recent outbreak of COVID-19, the cancellation of various activities county-wide, and the actions shown elsewhere MUGs will be suspended for the month of April and perhaps longer, as the situation progresses.
11:47 a.m. Tuesday, March 24 — Iowa fishing, hunting regulations not affected by COVID-19
Iowa's hunting and fishing regulations are not affected by the current COVID-19 health emergency in Iowa. Despite rumors on social media channels, the DNR has no plans to eliminate seasons, relax regulations or change license prices.
"Fishing and hunting regulations exist to protect human safety as well as wildlife populations over the long-term," said Dale Garner, Conservation and Recreation division administrator at the Iowa DNR. "We balance the long-term sustainability of Iowa's natural resources with the well-being of Iowans, and will continue to take a thoughtful, science-based approach to Iowa's hunting and fishing laws."
For more information about Iowa's hunting and fishing regulations, visit iowadnr.gov.
11:55 a.m. Thursday, March 26 – Confirmed COVID-19 cases rise to 179 in Iowa
The governor's office said the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state has risen to 179 today – up 34 cases. Dickinson County still has no confirmed cases.
According to IDPH, the locations and age ranges of the 34 individuals include:
Appanoose County, 1 elderly adult (81+)
Black Hawk County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)
Cedar County, 1 middle-age (41-60 years), 1 older (61-80 years), 1 elderly (81+)
Clayton County, 1 adult (18-40 years)
Des Moines County, 1 adult (18-40 years)
Jasper County, 1 elderly (81+)
Johnson County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 4 middle-aged adults (41-60 years), 1 older (61-80 years)
Linn County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 3 middle-aged adults (41-60 years), 1 older adult (61-80 years)
Mahaska County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
Monona County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
Page County, 1 middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
Polk County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 2 middle-aged (41-60 years), 1 older (61-80 years)
Pottawattamie County, 1 middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
Scott County, 1 elderly (81+), 3 middle-aged (41-60 years)
Sioux County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
Washington County, 2 older adults (61-80 years)
4:06 p.m. Monday, March 23 — June Primary voting period extended
Iowa 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.
"The safety of voters takes precedence, and by encouraging Iowans to vote absentee, we can reduce the risk of community spread of COVID-19," Pate said. "We still plan on having polls open on June 2 for voters who prefer to cast ballots in-person, but this effort will help reduce the risk of infecting others."
Curbside voting, as always, is an option for Iowans with disabilities and those who might have difficulty entering a polling place. This option will also 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.
3:21 p.m. Monday, March 23 — Reynolds announces unemployment insurance tax extension
Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that first quarter unemployment tax payments that are due April 30 will be delayed until the end of the second quarter, July 31, 2020. Eligible employers include those employers with 50 or fewer employees. Eligible employers also must be in good standing with no delinquencies in quarterly payments.
"Iowa's small businesses are the lifeblood of our communities and the engine behind our economy. Now more than ever we need to make sure they have the ability to manage their cash flow," Reynolds said. "It's critically important that we continue to take steps in support of our small business community during these challenging times."
To qualify for the extension, the employer must be current on all quarterly tax payments before the first quarter of 2020 regardless of whether or not they are seeking an extension of tax payment. All employers must file Quarterly Employers Contribution and Payroll Report electronically by 4:30 on April 24 to avoid the late report filing penalty.
Payments for Q1 would be due when Q2 payments are due, July 31, 2020. No interest or penalties will accrue for delayed payments for the eligible group. The extension of payment deadline without interest is not a holiday or forgiveness and the taxes will be due July 31, 2020. Employers still need to file their quarterly reports, which contain employee wage data necessary to compute benefit eligibility and amounts to be paid.
"More than 95% of businesses in Iowa, or 72,264 employers, have 50 or fewer employees," Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend said. "They employ a total of 417,536 Iowans, pay approximately $4.2 billion in wages. Providing an extension to paying unemployment insurance taxes will help the vast majority of employers during this difficult time."
For an employer who elects to take advantage of the extension, contact the Unemployment Insurance Tax division at either 1-888-848-7442 or by sending an email to Q1tax@iwd.iowa.gov. If an employer would like to request additional time to pay the tax, contact the Unemployment Insurance Tax Division. IWD recommends sending an email versus a phone call as there is a high call volume during this time that may lead to extended wait times. Employers must notify IWD of intent to delay payment by 4:30 p.m. Friday, April 24.
5:23 p.m. Sunday, March 22 — Food bank plans announced
The Food Bank of Iowa will be conducting a mobile food pantry from 4-6 p.m. Thursday, April 2, at the Crossroads Community Church in Estherville. Registration will take place in the parking lot only. Because of COVID-19, the building will remain closed and patrons are asked not to arrive before 3 p.m. Recipients are encouraged to bring bags, laundry baskets, or boxes to carry the food. Call (515) 564-0330 with questions.
5:34 p.m. Friday, March 20 — DIA temporarily suspends food inspections during COVID-19
Effective immediately and until further notice, the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals (DIA), will temporarily suspend all routine inspections of hotels, home bakeries and food establishments, including restaurants, bars, and food trucks.
DIA Food and Consumer Safety Bureau staff will limit inspections to those for complaints, follow-up inspections, and pre-opening inspections for new businesses.
Additionally, the department will temporarily cease inspections of food processing plants. DIA is under contract with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to complete these types of inspections. Earlier today, the FDA issued an order to DIA to discontinue conducting contract food manufacturer inspections.
Businesses that need to apply for, or renew, their food licenses are encouraged to do so online (licenses that are more than 60 days past due cannot be renewed online). The department will waive late fees for those businesses that are currently outstanding for the length of the governor's disaster proclamation, and for an unspecified amount of time during the recovery phase. However, late fees that have already been submitted will not be refunded.
1:22 p.m. Saturday, March 21 — ISP limits in-person access
As the response to the COVID-19 virus continues to evolve, the Iowa State Patrol has announced it is limiting public access to its district headquarter offices to essential business in order to maintain the health and safety of law-enforcement staff.
While the Iowa State Patrol remains fully-operational and focused on the primary goal to protect the public, first responders, communications dispatchers and law-enforcement personnel, citizens are encouraged to contact district offices by phone or email with non-essential questions.
"We thank the public for its support as we take unprecedented steps to ensure our staff remain healthy and prepared to provide mission-critical public safety services to Iowans," says Iowa State Patrol Colonel Nathan Fulk.
8:44 a.m. Monday, March 23 — Public encouraged to report COVID-19 fraud
U.S. Attorney Peter E. Deegan, Jr., of the Northern District of Iowa urged the public to report suspected fraud schemes related to COVID-19 (the coronavirus) by calling the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline (1-866-720-5721) or to the NCDF e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org.
In coordination with the Department of Justice, Attorney General William Barr has directed U.S. Attorneys to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of coronavirus fraud schemes.
"There are people out there who will try and take advantage of COVID-19 for selfish financial benefit," Deegan said. "I am asking everyone in our communities to stay vigilant and report suspected fraud. We also all need to care for the most vulnerable citizens in our society and do our best to prevent them from becoming victims of unscrupulous criminals."
Some examples of these schemes include:
• Individuals and businesses selling fake cures for COVID-19 online and engaging in other forms of fraud.
• Phishing emails from entities posing as the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
• Malicious websites and apps that appear to share Coronavirus-related information to gain and lock access to your devices until payment is received.
• Seeking donations fraudulently for illegitimate or non-existent charitable organizations.
• Medical providers obtaining patient information for COVID-19 testing and then using that information to fraudulently bill for other tests and procedures.
1:08 p.m. Saturday, March 21 — Firearms permitting changed
Gov. Kim Reynolds issued an additional state public health emergency Declaration related to the COVID-19 virus. Included in the proclamation were certain modifications to the current law on weapon permits. The declaration temporarily addresses portions of Iowa law regarding professional and nonprofessional permits to carry firearms, and permits to acquire pistols or revolvers. Based on the governor’s actions, permits to carry weapons and permits to acquire will not expire during the declaration. This extension, however, does not allow one to use an otherwise expired permit to purchase a firearm without completion of a NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) check at the time of the purchase or transfer. All Federal Firearms License holders (FFLS) must conduct a NICS check prior to the sale or transfer of any firearm if an expired permit is presented. Again, a holder of an otherwise expired permit will not be able to purchase a firearm without a NICS being performed by the FFL.
The declaration also gives county sheriffs greater discretion in determining how they receive weapon permit applications so as to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Please check with your local county sheriff’s department to determine its procedure for accepting applications during this time.
3:29 p.m. Friday, March 20 — Know what to and what not to flush down your toilet
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is reminding Iowans of the importance of flushing only toilet paper and human waste down toilets to avoid disruption of sewer systems.
The Department recognizes the temporary shortage of toilet paper products during the COVID-19 outbreak, but warns items such as flushable wipes, disinfecting wipes, surface cleaning wipes, baby wipes — even though advertised as flushable — are not recommended for disposal by flushing down a toilet. Diapers, paper towels, tissues and feminine hygiene products should also not be flushed down toilets.
Even though these products may not clog your sewer system at your residence, when deposited together in an entire community, they can pose a serious risk of overwhelming a community’s sewer system. If a sewer system is clogged, it can lead to backups of sewage into residences and overflows into the environment. Additionally, it can cause pump failures and lead to several hours of repairs and expenses to city wastewater systems. Residents are encouraged to dispose of the items in bags and dispose in the trash.
2 p.m. Friday, March 20 — Emergency proclamation assists supply distribution
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig issued the following statement in response to the State Public Health Emergency Proclamation signed by Gov. Reynolds Friday.
"I appreciate her continued support of the agriculture community," he said. "We'll continue working together to find solutions that keep the supply chain moving so we can get food from the farm to the grocery store shelf."
The emergency proclamation temporarily suspends the oversized, overweight and hours of service regulations that apply to commercial vehicles transporting "agricultural supplies and commodities including, but not limited to, livestock, raw milk and crop supplies." This waiver helps farmers and agribusinesses continue to meet the demand for food and supplies during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The proclamation is effective immediately and lasts until 11:59 p.m. Thursday, April 16.
1 p.m. Friday, March 20 — Area community bands cancel spring rehearsals/concert
Due to the COVID-19 situation, the Northwest Iowa Concert Band and Jazz Bands have cancelled future spring 2020 rehearsals and the concert scheduled for April 20. Summer concerts are still planned to be held. Keep up-to-date with information on Facebook at Northwest Iowa Concert Band and Jazz Band. The bands members come from various northwest Iowa cities and look forward to playing band music and sharing band music with others again. The community bands are partially sponsored by Excel! Estherville, a non-profit corporation and affiliated division of the Estherville Area Chamber of Commerce.
11:58 a.m. Friday, March 20 – Board of Supervisors meetings to be electronic until further notice
The Dickinson County Board of Supervisors will continue to meet at the county courthouse Tuesday morning, but the public will have to dial in on their phone or device. Due to the courthouse's closure to the general public to stem the potential spread of COVID-19, those interested in the meeting are asked to attend remotely. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., and the public can join telephonically by calling either 312-626-6799 or 646-558-8656 and entering access code 356032015. The meeting will also be available through the internet at https://zoom.us/s/356032015. The board agenda includes notice of the new Spirit Lake Shop, appointment of the Dickinson County Weed Commissioner, approval of March 17 board minutes, approval of March 24 claims, potential approval of liquor license applications and general discussion/board and committee reports.
11:49 p.m. Friday, March 20 — Bars can liquidate inventories
At the request of the Iowa Restaurant Association and in collaboration with private and public partners, Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed a proclamation which makes it possible for restaurants and bars to temporarily sell unopened bottles of wine or alcoholic liquor for consumption off premises. Class C liquor license holders may also continue to sell beer for consumption off premises. Beverages must be promptly taken from the premises such as on a carry-out or drive-through basis or if the beverage is delivered to customers off premises.
11:47 p.m. Friday, March 20 — Shayla Bee visits amended
In consultation with families, Shayla Bee still plans to deliver its Shayla Bee donation and gifts. However due to the Coronavirus situation, an abundance of caution and possible compromised immune systems, the organization will be delivering the donation as a small private group with an abundance of social distancing. The "Shayla Bee Hug" will bee delayed not cancelled. Keep new Shayla Bee families in your prayers. The group hopes to get back to the traditional group donations as soon as everything settles down.
10:30 a.m. Friday, March 20 – Garbage service changes for Terril, Superior
Garbage service for Terril and Superior will be Friday, March 27, instead of Thursday, March 26, according to the Dickinson Alert System.
10:10 a.m. Friday, March 20 – Bomgaars announces new hours, curbside service
Situations are changing quickly across this great nation due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), so we would like to update you on the steps we are taking at Bomgaars to continue to protect the health and safety of our employees, customers and the communities that we are proud to call home.
We know that you look to Bomgaars for essential needs, for your family, pets, livestock, farms and small businesses. We have an unwavering responsibility to provide these products to fill the needs of not only you and your family, but your pets and animals as well. Together we will get through this trying time and come out stronger and better than ever. In order to do this, some changes have been implemented at Bomgaars.
Effective Friday March 20, will be adjusting our store hours to ensure that we can provide the same level of customer service that you have come to expect. Our revised hours will be:
Monday – Saturday 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
7 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Spirit Lake location only
Sunday hours will remain unchanged
At the same time, we will be increasing measures to clean and sanitize our stores each evening.
In addition, effective Monday March 23, we will be adding curbside and carryout service at all of our Bomgaars locations. Call ahead with what you need and we will have it ready and waiting when you arrive at our stores. Call your local Bomgaars for more details.
Stay safe and we look forward to seeing you soon.
9:20 a.m. Friday, March 20 — Governor signs additional emergency declaration
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a second State Public Health Emergency Friday morning. The governor's decision temporarily suspends collection of property tax and interest as well as certain evictions. Deadlines for permits to carry or acquire a firearm have also been extended.
Restaurants and bars were closed earlier this week, following recommendations from the White House, and the Reynolds' declaration allows the sale of unopened bottles of alcohol by carry-out, drive-thru or delivery from restaurants and bars. Public meetings and hearings are also allowed to be held electronically under the declaration.
The Iowa Department of Public Health says the state's total cases of COVID-19 are now at 38. Nine new cases were announced by the IDPH Wednesday afternoon. The cases continue to be concentrated near Iowa's major cities, with a smattering of cases in southwest and northeast Iowa. Most of the new cases were recorded in Johnson County, Polk County and Dallas County, with one case was reported in Washington County and another case occurred in northeast Iowa's Winneshiek County.
7:17 a.m. Friday, March 20 — Black Hills Energy makes changes
Black Hills Energy said continues to work closely with local health, public safety and government officials to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and minimize the impact of service to customers. Some of the actions the company has taken include:
• Black Hills Energy is temporarily suspending nonpayment disconnections for customers. Black Hills realizes that due to possible extended periods of isolation, customers may face financial hardships effecting their ability to timely pay their energy bills. The company website has options to assist with those hardships.
• To minimize the potential spreading of COVID-19 Black Hills Energy will be asking customers who have had a fever or dry cough within in the last 48 hours to consider postponing non-emergency service calls.
• Crews will continue to respond to all emergency calls and will be wearing appropriate personal protective equipment and following health practices as recommended by the CDC and other health organizations.
• Employee travel has been limited to mission critical purposes.
• A work-from-home policy has been implemented for all employees who are able to do so.
• Paid leave is being provided for employees who tests positive or are put under quarantine.
• All on-site meetings with consultants and gathering of over ten people have been postponed and electronic communications are encouraged when possible.
3:22 p.m. Thursday, March 19 — Spencer Hospital tightens visitor policies
Spencer Hospital has tightened visitor/patient companion restrictions in an effort to provide patients the safest possible environment during the pandemic outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 19). Effective Friday, March 20, patients are only permitted to have someone accompany them to an appointment or visit them while hospitalized under extenuating circumstances.
Exceptions permitted are as follows:
• One person may accompany/visit patient in Birth Center
• One person may accompany person scheduled for a procedure in the Surgery Center
• One parent/guardian may accompany/visit patient under age 18
• Immediate family members may visit patients receiving end-of-life care, as defined by physician
Visitors cannot rotate with another person during the patient's stay in an effort to reduce the number of people who enter the hospital. Also, deliveries to patients of flowers, gifts, etc. have been temporarily suspended to avoid bringing in items from outside of the hospital. Though the volunteer gift shop is currently closed, gifts from the shop can be ordered online and delivered and ecards can be sent via spencerhospital.org.
Spencer Hospital has also initiated an ambassador program at the main hospital entrance and emergency entrance. The main entrance will have one door – entrance B – open Monday through Friday between the hours of 5:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. All patients and visitors will be greeted by a hospital ambassador at that entrance who will ask if the person has any respiratory symptoms and will conduct a quick temperature check.
After 5 p.m. and on weekends, patients and permitted visitors will be asked to use the emergency department entrance on the east side of the Spencer Hospital campus. An ambassador at the emergency entrance will also conduct a brief screening, including temperature check. Ambassadors at the ED entrance will be available from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day.
Spencer Hospital employees are also undergoing a health screening when they arrive to work.
1:54 p.m. Thursday, March 19 — Public worship suspended at St. Alban's
The Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Diocese of Iowa, has suspended public worship through Holy Week and Easter.
St. Alban's Episcopal church in Spirit Lake has an abundance of traditional, Anglican liturgy especially morning prayer on our Facebook page which is also embedded at stalbansepiscopalchurch.org. Bishop Scarfe will be offering Sunday worship to the entire Diocese of Iowa at 10 a.m. Sunday March 29. The services will be available on St. Alban's Facebook page and YouTube. People without access to a computer or smartphone can dial (312) 626-6799 and enter the Meeting ID as prompted: Meeting ID: 365 765 527. Contact the church at (712) 336-1117 with any assistance needs. For complete information visit stalbansepiscopalchurch.org or email email@example.com. St Alban’s is located just east of Lakes Regional Healthcare at 23rd and Zenith Avenue in Spirit Lake.
11:28 a.m. Wednesday, March 18 – City of West Okoboji encourages limited exposure
We recommend that residents call the city hall at 712-320-4394 before coming in to the office. The office will not be locked; however, it is best to practice social distancing in times like this. We encourage residents to use the drop-box outside of city hall to place utility payments, permit applications, etc. Appoints will be made if necessary, to meet in person. The City strongly encourages all residents to follow the guidelines provided by the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and Center for Disease Control
-West Okoboji City Administrator Derrick Miner
11:26 a.m. Wednesday, March 18 – Lake Park asks public to limit visits to municipal offices
In an effort to promote social distancing in the wake of the Corona virus and to help protect everyone in the community, the City of Lake Park/Lake Park Municipal Utilities will be making a couple of changes in the short term. Until further notice we ask that you please use the drop box, located outside the front door, to drop off your utility payments. For all other matters we ask that you please call the office 832-3667 or 832-3527 and we will help you as best we can. City Hall is not closed, and we will still be conducting City/Utility business, we just ask that for safety measures you limit any trips to the office. Other City/Utility services; law enforcement, water, sewer, electric, gas will continue as usual. At this time there are no changes to garbage and recycling services. Until further notice any activities at the Community Center are cancelled. We will continue to update you as changes occur. We will get through this with everyone’s help. Please take personal precautions that continue to be well publicized. The Lake Park Library will be closed through March 28.
9:14 a.m. Wednesday, March 18 – ISUE Extension offices closed until further notice, staff working remotely
The following Iowa State University Extension and Outreach offices have been closed to the public until further notice; however, staff is still working remotely to serve the area:
•Dickinson County; Contact Dickinson County staff at 712-336-3488 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
•Clay County; Contact Clay County staff at 712-262-2264 or email email@example.com.
•Lyon County; Contact Lyon County staff at 712-472-2576 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
•O’Brien County; Contact O’Brien County staff at 712-957-5045 or email email@example.com.
•Osceola County; Contact Osceola County staff at 712-754-3648 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
•Sioux County; Contact Sioux County staff at 712-737-4230 or email email@example.com.
All ISU Extension and Outreach programming has also been cancelled or postponed through Saturday, April 4. Continue to watch your local county ISU Extension and Outreach webpages for further details and updates.
6:56 p.m. Tuesday, March 17 – Additional COVID-19 Cases in Iowa
The Iowa Department of Public Health has been notified of six additional positive cases of Iowans with COVID-19, for a total of 29 positive cases. According to IDPH, three individuals are residents of Johnson County; the other three are residents of Adair, Blackhawk and Dallas Counties.
Yesterday, Gov. Reynolds issued a State of Public Health Disaster Emergency, activating the public health response and recovery aspects of the State Disaster Emergency Plan. The governor also signed SF 2408 today, legislation that creates emergency measures and supplemental appropriations for key government services to combat the spread of COVID-19. A status report of monitoring and testing of COVID19 in Iowa provided by IDPH 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.
Tuesday, March 17 – MMU announces COVID-19 changes
In accordance with CDC guidelines and the Iowa Governor’s recommendations on COVID-19, MMU would like to limit the amount of face to face contact in our office.
Please consider mailing your payments, using the drop box and drive-up window at the office. We also accept VISA, Mastercard, and Discover and can process credit card payments over the phone.
If you have an online account with this, please use this for payment. If you do not have an online account, you can sign up for one at www.milford.ia.us. Click on the utilities tab, online portal, and you can begin your registration.
If you have other needs or questions for our office, please consider calling or emailing first to see if we can answer it that way. We appreciate your cooperation during this unprecedented time as we strive to be considerate of the health and well-being of our customers and employees.
1:13 p.m. Tuesday, March 17 — County follows governor's lead in declaring state of emergency
The Dickinson County Board of Supervisors has declared a state of emergency in Dickinson County. The decision follows Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds' declaration of a State of Public Health Emergency across Iowa in response to the COVID-19 virus. Cases of the virus have been confirmed in the state. The county-level declaration authorizes expenditures of emergency funds from all available sources. It also allows for the invoking of mutual aid agreements and requests for assistance from the state of Iowa.
8:48 a.m. Tuesday, March 17 – COVID-19 will not impact candidate filing deadlines
The Dickinson County Auditor's Office has said ongoing concerns over the COVID-19 virus will not affect filing deadlines for candidates in both party primaries and the general election. The public has been asked to limit their county courthouse visits to necessary business, but Dickinson County Election Clerk Jordan Moyer said the auditor's office will still be requiring hard copies of candidate filings. She said candidates can inform staff via phone that the papers have been submitted to the courthouse's drop box near the west entrance. Staff can also provide digital scans of filing receipts as proof of submission, or candidates can pick up their receipt at a later time. The deadline for candidates on the primary election ballot is March 25, while the filing deadline for candidates on the general election ballot is March 20. Primary candidates must have 37 signatures of support, and general election candidates must have 137 signatures to file. Similarly, city budgets will be due to the auditor's office March 31, and school budgets are due April 15.
4:05 p.m. Monday, March 16 – White House urges greater social distancing
The White House has issued updated guidelines for keeping the spread of COVID-19 virus at bay. The guidelines urge those feeling sick, those with sick children, the elderly and those with underlying conditions to stay home and obey local authorities. The White House information also encourages working from home whenever possible, avoiding unnecessary travel as well as nursing homes and restaurants. The White House is also discouraging group events of more than 10 people – the Centers for Disease Control previously put the recommended cap at 50 people.
"If you work in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, such as healthcare services and pharmaceutical and foods supply, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule," the White House said. "You and your employers should follow CDC guidance to protect your health at work."
2:56 p.m. Monday, March 16 – Oak Hill Outdoor visit from Iowa Navy Commodores cancelled
The planned Friday ribbon cutting and Saturday grand opening festivities have been cancelled at Oak Hill Outdoor in north Milford. Staff at the Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce hope to reschedule the event for a later date.
2:15 p.m. Monday, March 16 – Foosball Shenanigans has been cancelled
Organizers of the Foosball Shenanigans tournament have confirmed the event at Arrowwood Resort and Conference Center has been cancelled amid the COVID-19 concerns. The competition was scheduled for March 20-22. Organizer Bob Shaw said the tournament may be attempted again next year, but he said its overall intent has been successful in purchasing foosball tables for local schools and generating interest in the sport.
1:14 p.m. Monday, March 16 – City of Okoboji encourages public to use remote services
On Saturday, March 14, 2020 the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) determined that there is now community spread of COVID-19 in the State of Iowa. As a result, the City of Okoboji is encouraging residents to SKIP THE TRIP to City Hall and stay home for services they can access remotely.
A list of contact information is available on the city website at: https://okobojicity.com/2020/03/skip-the-trip-covid-19/
All essential services will continue to operate as usual. The health and safety of the residents of Okoboji and City Staff are our top priority. For all instances, the City encourages that you SKIP THE TRIP and call City Hall. City Staff remains on-site in full capacity to serve the City of Okoboji.
1:12 p.m. Monday, March 16 – City of Spirit Lake encourages public to call, use drop box as COVID-19 precaution
With recent federal and state informational releases and updates coming frequently regarding the coronavirus, the City of Spirit Lake will be making a couple of minor adjustments in the short term out of caution for the public. If individuals have utility bills and normally pay in person at City Hall, please use the drop box located inside the front entry doors on Hill Avenue. For other routine matters like necessary tags for disposal of household items and any issues related to building permits, please call ahead to City Hall so arrangements can be made. City Hall is not closed, and we will still be conducting City business, but with these changes for now. City services related to law enforcement, water distribution, trash pickup and recycling will continue as usual and there are no issues with providing City services, and no reason for any concern about that, just taking a few recommended precautions.
12:01 p.m. Monday, March 16 – Spirit Lake Schools cancels, postpones programs
The Spirit Lake KDG Parent Meeting will be canceled. The district will be posting the KDG information on our school website as soon as they can. Kindergarten Round Up that was scheduled for Friday, March 20 will also be canceled. Preschool Open House that was scheduled for Thursday, March 19 will be postponed. A new date will be communicated at a later time. The third and fourth grade STEM FAIR night that was scheduled for March 31 will be canceled. If students would still like to work on their projects, we will hold a time within the school day to showcase their learning to their classmates. The time for the individual classroom showcase will be communicated at a later time.
As a district, Spirit Lake is not requiring school work completion at this time. The district does feel it is important to practice skills to prevent any academic slide during this closure.
11:56 a.m. Monday, March 16 –Dickinson County Nature Center closed, public asked to avoid courthouse when possible
In response to community spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Iowa, the Dickinson County Courthouse is asking that the public refrain from entering the Courthouse. We are asking citizens to utilize online methods for payment of things such as motor vehicle registrations and property taxes, and obtaining forms. Many of the forms citizens need can be found on the county’s website at www.dickinsoncountyiowa.org.
If your business cannot be conducted online, we would ask that you call in to see if the matter can be handled over the phone. Office phone numbers are:
Clerk of Court: 336-1138
Community Services: 336-0775
County Attorney: 336-4003
Department of Human Services: 336-2555
Emergency Management: 336-3987
Information Technology: 336-6266
Veterans Affairs: 336-0883
Citizens may also mail payments and other items to the courthouse, or use the drop box outside the west entrance of the Courthouse.
Effective immediately, the Dickinson County Nature Center will be closed to the public until further notice.
The Courthouse remains open, and county business continues to be conducted. We ask our citizens to consider these alternate methods of doing business with the county for the health of the public and our employees.
10:47 a.m. Monday, March 16 – Private Pesticide Continuing Instruction Courses Postponed
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has postponed the following Private Pesticide Continuing Instruction Courses that were originally scheduled for March 17 to the following dates and times:
Monday, April 6 at 7 p.m. - First Presbyterian Church, Sibley; Contact Sandy at 712-754-3648 for information.
Wednesday, April 8 at 1:30 p.m. - George Community Center, George; Contact Denise at 712-472-2576 for information.
The April 7, 7 p.m. Private Pesticide Continuing Instruction Course at Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon remains scheduled as-is.
Please continue to monitor your county’s website for daily updates and details - www.extension.iastate.edu/countyname.
9:58 a.m. Monday, March 16 – H-LP FFA Blood Drive postponed
The Harris-Lake Park FFA Blood Drive scheduled for Wednesday, March 18 has been cancelled. The decision follows the school district's response to a recommendation from Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds late Sunday that all schools close for four weeks.
Sunday, March 15 - Governor to close schools for four weeks
Schools are closed and the Iowa legislative session has been put on hold after four more cases of COVID-19 were identified in Iowa — including two patients who contracted the virus through community spread.
Community spread is the term used by the IDPH when the person infected with the illness can't identify how or where they became infected. The first case of community spread was announced Saturday involving a Dallas County patient.
Four additional Iowa COVID-19 cases were confirmed on Sunday, sending shockwaves from the statehouse to the schoolhouse. The new reports came from Allamakee County, Johnson County and Polk County. Iowa now has 22 confirmed coronavirus cases.
"Based on new information today from the Iowa Department of Public Health, now is the time to move to the next level of response," Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said. "I am now recommending that all Iowa schools close for a period of four weeks to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19."
Okoboji Superintendent Todd Abrahamson confirmed his district's compliance with the governor's order.
Harris-Lake Park also said it will follow the recommendation and canceled school for the remainder for the upcoming week.
All Harris-Lake Park staff were asked to report at 8 a.m. Monday to the Middle School/High School MS/HS commons.
Spirit Lake Superintendent David Smith used Twitter to update families.
"Per the governor's recommendation related to COVID-19 the Spirit Lake Community School District will be closed indefinitely effective immediately," he tweeted. "Information on an exact re-open date will be communicated as we gain clarity on the fluid situation."
Smith closed the entire campus until further notice in light of the governor's order. Starting Wednesday, he said the school district will provide qualified free and/or reduced lunch students with morning and noon meals through a "grab and go" process.
Also on Sunday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a recommendation calling on organizers to cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States over the next eight weeks.
Iowa's three branches of government also are continuing a significant reduction in scope as leaders try to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The Iowa Legislature suspended its 2020 session for at least 30 days after Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Public Health announced Saturday's case of coronavirus contracted by community spread.
2:25 p.m. Friday, March 13 — Spirit Lake Public Library halts programs
In an effort to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, the Spirit Lake Public Library will be suspending library programming and outreach beginning on Saturday, March 14, until further notice. Organizations may still use the library's community room at their own discretion. The library will remain open.
1:36 p.m. Friday, March 13 — Milford Memorial Library halts programs
The Milford Memorial Library is suspending all programming until further notice.
1:15 p.m. Friday, March 13 — Everly, Emmetsburg pesticide courses cancelled
To help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is canceling its in-person pesticide applicator testing sessions through the end of the month. The cancellations include a March 17 course in Everly and a March 18 course in Emmetsburg.
"We’re working with public health officials and other state and federal agencies to monitor the rapidly developing COVID-19 situation," said Secretary Naig. "The health of the public and our employees is our top priority, so we are temporarily suspending in-person testing out of an abundance of caution."
Additional pesticide applicator certification testing sessions may be offered at partner locations later in the year. Visit iowaagriculture.gov/pesticide-bureau for a list of alternate pesticide applicator certification testing dates and locations.
12:06 p.m. Friday, March 13 —Iowa Democratic Party issues statement on county conventions
Regarding the upcoming county conventions on March 21, Iowa Democratic Party Chair Mark Smith released the following statement:
"Today, the Iowa Democratic Party is announcing it will postpone County Conventions to a future date to be determined. After extensive consultation with County Chairs, the State Central Committee, party leaders, and public health officials, we have come to the determination that the spreading coronavirus poses a risk that outweighs a temporary delay in moving the caucus-to-convention process forward.
"This is not an easy decision, but we believe it is the right decision. By their design, caucuses are gatherings built around a sense of community, and throughout every step, we have worked to ensure the process is safe and accessible for every Iowan. However, Iowa Democrats should not have to choose between democratic participation and remaining in good health, and concerns for the wellbeing of our delegates, thousands of volunteers, workers at convention venues and the public come first.
"It is in Democratic spirit that we will work together to find solutions. We are committed to being as transparent as possible going forward, and rest assured: Iowa will be heard at the DNC Convention."
As of this time, District and State Convention planning will proceed as scheduled.
12:06 p.m. Friday, March 13 — Special Olympics Iowa suspends activities
Thursday evening, Special Olympics Iowa made the difficult decision to suspend all training and activities through the end of March.
In a correspondence to athletes, families and volunteers, Special Olympics Iowa President & CEO John Kliegl instructed coaches to suspend practices and training club activities until further notice.
At this time, there are no reported cases of the coronavirus (COVIT-19) connected to Special Olympics Iowa.
"The decision to suspend all training and activities was made out of extreme caution for the health and safety of everyone in the Special Olympics Iowa community, athletes, Unified partners, coaches and volunteers," said Kliegl. "For many of our athletes, training is a way to combat health and wellness challenges, along with the social isolation that they are faced with on a daily basis. Our athletes will need the support of friends and fans right now."
Special Olympics Iowa will work with coaches and supporters to help athletes stay healthy and engaged with the Special Olympics community while training is suspended. Kliegl encourages families to work out together at home and to stay social by joining the Facebook group, Stay Healthy with Special Olympics Iowa.
11 a.m. Friday, March 13 — New procedures set for juvenile court services
The Iowa Judicial Branch is carefully monitoring the situation regarding the. spread of the novel coronavirus/COVID-19. In addition, the governor's office and the Iowa Department of Public Health have urged Iowans to prepare for its impact "in the same way they prepare for sever weather or other events that could disrupt their normal routine."
Preparation is key to minimizing coronavirus/COVID-19 impact on the services the judicial branch provides at-risk juveniles and their families. The following procedures should be followed to protect juveniles, families, attorneys, court personnel and those who regularly conduct business in juvenile courts and with juvenile court services. (JCS):
|1.||Inquire. To the extent possible, JCS shall affirmatively inquire of juveniles and families whether they have an elevated risk of transmitting the noel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.|
|2.||No in-person attendance. No person who have an elevated risk of transmitting the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 shall personally attend any meetings or other proceedings with JCS without prior authorization from the court.|
|3.||Remote intakes and meetings. JCS may conduct intakes and meetings using video or phone conferencing when it believes it would be practical and efficient to do so and will promptly consider any request by parties to change an in-person intake or meeting to a remote intake or meeting.|
|4.||Continued efforts. Chief Juvenile Court Officers will continue to work with Chief Judges and State Court Administration on plans to develop mitigating measures to address the effects of the coronavirus/COVID outbreak on juveniles and their families. All such efforts must be consistent with providing services to at-risk youth and their families to the fullest possible extent while protecting public safety by mitigating the impact of coronavirus/COVID-19.|
10:27 p.m. Thursday, March 12 — Rock the Roof Dance Party cancelled
The Iowa Rock 'n Roll Music Association has canceled the upcoming Rock the Roof Dance Party, featuring Slow Jam, scheduled for Thursday, March 19.
"We decided as an Executive Leadership team that, out of an abundance of caution and care for our members and patrons, that it was in everybody's best interest to cancel next Thursday's event," Iowa Rock 'n Roll Music Association Director Clay Norris said. "It became more evident as the day progressed and sporting events and other larger group gatherings were being affected, that this is the proper decision to make."
Norris said future planned concert dates will be reviewed as the situation warrants. IRRMA will be listening carefully to guidance by Dickinson County Public Health and Lakes Regional Healthcare.
"It is our hope, of course, that the Coronavirus threat subsides and that we can proceed with the next scheduled concerts as planned," Norris said.
The next scheduled Rock the Roof is the Spring Prom - planned for April 16, featuring the talents of Ritchie Lee.
7:01 p.m. Thursday, March 12 — IDPH encourages long-term care facilities to protect residents
The Iowa Department of Public Health is committed to taking critical steps to ensure long term care facility residents are protected from communicable diseases, including Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Because older adults and those with chronic medical conditions are at highest risk for serious complications from COVID-19, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) encourages long term care facilities to align their practices with recent guidance issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services which limits non-essential visitors to long term care facilities. In addition, IDPH is requesting that long term care facilities report to the department when greater than two staff or residents are ill with respiratory symptoms without another diagnosis.
The Department further encourages long term care facilities to implement additional visitor limitation protocols as deemed necessary to protect the life and safety of their residents.
4:21 p.m. Thursday, March 12 — LiveServe assures public about blood supply
There are a lot of fears going on with the COVID-19 outbreak, but LifeServe is asking the public to keep calm and keep your blood drive on the calendar. LifeServe Blood Center is working with the recommendations of our medical director, the CDC, and industry leaders to ensure the safety of the community blood supply as well as donors, team members and volunteers. In fact, the organization has implemented its Business Continuity Protocol as it actively works to keep the community blood supply stable.
• LifeServe Blood Center is not testing or screening for COVID-19 directly, but the organization does screen all donors to make sure they are healthy and eligible to donate.
• All donors are screened to ensure they are feeling well. Individuals should not donate blood if they are feeling ill. Each donor also goes through a mini physical that includes a temperature check as well as a visual check on the donor's well-being (coughing, nose draining, hard time breathing, etc.).
• Additional donor screening questions asking blood donors to self-defer if they’ve traveled to a country deemed a risk area by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have been implemented as an industry-wide precaution to ensure the safety of the community blood supply.
• As a healthcare type organization, cleaning and disinfecting are a regular part of LifeServe's routine.
• The safety and quality of the blood supply is not impacted by COVD-19 as there have been no transmissions of the novel virus through blood transfusion.
• Blood donation is not a mass gathering or social event. Individuals who are healthy and eligible to donate are strongly encouraged to do so in order to maintain an available blood supply.
Unfortunately, as COVD-19 is detected in local communities, social distancing is occurring and mobile blood drives, among other public activities and events, are cancelling. More than 70% of the local blood supply is provided by blood donors visiting mobile blood drive events. Mobile blood drive cancellations and lack of blood donor turnout are already impacting the quantity of the local blood supply. It's critical to keep blood drives on the calendar. For that reason, LifeServe is urging blood drives to continue as planned and for healthy donors to come out.
3:38 p.m. Thursday, March 12 — Judicial branch issues policies to address Coronavirus/COVID-19 impact
The Iowa Judicial Branch is carefully monitoring the situation regarding the. spread of the novel coronavirus/COVID-19. In addition, the governor's office and the Iowa Department of Public Health have urged Iowans to prepare for its impact "in the same way they prepare for sever weather or other events that could disrupt their normal routine."
Preparation is key to minimizing coronavirus/COVID-19 impact on the services the judicial branch provides Iowans. The following procedures should be followed to protect parties, attorneys, court personnel, jurors and the many other Iowans who regularly conduct business in or visit Iowa's 100 courthouses:
|1.||Notify: An attorney or party must promptly notify opposing counsel and the respective Clerk of Court's Office if they reasonably suspect that a participant in any schedul|