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Live COVID-19 updates: Iowa fatalities up to 7, positive cases at 497

As of Tuesday afternoon, there have been seven total deaths, 497 positive cases and 6,888 negative cases of COVID-19 in the state.
Credit: AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends frequent hand washing, avoiding close contact and staying home if you are sick as main areas of focus for prevention and containment of COVID-19.

Iowa's total number of positive COVID-19 cases climbed past 400 Monday morning, with 88 additional positive cases bringing the total to 424.

6,162 tests have come back negative.

RELATED: Polk County supervisor: Mental health a big concern during coronavirus outbreak

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced last week most non-essential businesses closed until at least April 7, suspended non-essential medical and dental procedures and asked schools to close until April 13.

Tuesday, March 31

Gov. Reynolds' administration focuses on keeping elderly Iowans healthy 

Gov. Kim Reynolds' daily press conference focused heavily on keeping high-risk Iowans healthy as COVID-19 continues to spread. 

Brent Willett with the Iowa Health Care Association along with LeadingAge Iowa President/CEO Shannon Strickler reported how their organizations are utilizing mitigation tactics, like social distancing and visitor restrictions, to keep elderly Iowans safe.

"We understand the challenges these visitation procedures have placed on families, however it is vitally important that we do everything that we can to protect the health and safety of their loved ones and our residents," Willett said.

Another Iowan dies, almost 500 infected in the state

Almost 500 Iowans are infected with the novel coronavirus, according to recent numbers released by the Iowa Department of Public Health on Tuesday.

One Iowan from Muscatine County died from complications. They were between the ages of 41 and 60.

An additional 73 positive cases means Iowa has a total of 497 in the state. 6,888 Iowans tested negative for COVID-19.

RELATED: 497 infected with COVID-19 in Iowa, another dies from complications

Absentee ballot request form to be sent to every registered Iowa voter

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate said Monday that an absentee ballot request form will be sent to "every active registered voter in the state" ahead of primaries on June 2.

“The safety of voters while casting their ballots is our top priority,” Secretary Pate said in a statement. “The June 2 primary election will go on as scheduled because it’s important for Iowans to make their voices heard by voting. The safest way to vote will be by mail.”

Iowans who are 17 years old and will be 18 by Nov. 3 can vote in the June primary.

A printable absentee ballot request can be found online here.

More pop-up clinics going up across the state

With countrywide shortages in COVID-19 tests and basic medical equipment, along with strict guidelines from the IDPH, providers have been forced to use discretion about who they can test.

They've also altered where people can test.  The MercyOne Newton Medical Center, for example, opened up a fever and respiratory pop-up clinic in its parking lot.

Mark Thayer, the clinic's administrator, said the pop-up clinic "will be a place for evaluation, testing and treatment of conditions like strep throat, influenza and COVID-19."

Credit: Eric Gooden, WOI-TV

Adventureland Park delays 2020 opening

One of central Iowa's top summer attractions won't be opening as soon as expected due to COVID-19. 

Adventureland Park in Altoona announced that their opening will be delayed to Saturday, May 16.

"Thank you for your continued understanding, support and patience as we do everything we can to navigate this situation. Adventureland Resort is a family owned and operated business that employs hundreds of people and has helped create countless summer memories," the park wrote on Facebook. "Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our guests, team members, friends and families."

Hy-Vee reserves one hour of Aisles Online Shopping for high-risk customers

Hy-Vee, Inc. will reserve one hour of Hy-Vee Aisles Online shopping time slots each day for customers that are considered "high-risk." Starting Thursday, the reserved time slots will be from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., seven days a week. This coincides with in-store hours reserved for high-risk customers.

Dubuque Archbishop cancels Holy Week, Easter services

Archbishop Michael Jackels of Dubuque announced the cancellation of all services during Holy Week and Easter throughout the archdiocese.

Iowa Dept. of Education announces new resources to support students at home

The Iowa Department of Education released multiple resources for families and educators to use as they continue to support student learning during school closures.

The three categories of resources include general, by subject and by learner characteristic. The resources can be found on the DOE's website

City of Marshalltown reports 3 employees have tested positive for COVID-19

Three employees with the City of Marshalltown have reported positive tests for the coronavirus.

The city is deep cleaning its offices and workspaces and has implemented remote working for employees and social distancing "in all areas of operations."

"We recognize that many functions of local government are essential, and we are listening to our team members to determine the safest way to continue operations during this time period,” City Administrator Jessica Kinser said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have tested positive as well as their families.” 

Walmart takes additional steps to protect employees

Stores nationwide will begin temperature checks for employees and making masks and gloves available.

"We will continue to consult with health officials and experts inside and outside Walmart as this situation evolves," Walmart executives wrote in a release. "We greatly appreciate the work our associates are doing for customers, members, and their communities, and we will continue to prioritize their health and well-being."

Relief for small businesses in Iowa

The Iowa Small Business Relief Program has been set up to "provide assistance to small businesses and tax deferrals" to Iowa businesses impacted by COVID-19, Iowa Economic Development announced.

Grants range from $5,000-$25,000.

Funds may not be used to pay debts incurred prior to March 17, and the application deadline is noon Tuesday. 

For more information, click here.

Monday, March 30

West Des Moines playgrounds, picnic shelters close; Johnston and Clive also close playgrounds

City Manger Tom Hadden announced Monday that effective immediately, playground equipment and picnic shelters are closed until further notice.

The city has extended its public health proclamation through Thursday, April 16 at 11:59 p.m.

Johnston and Clive have also closed their public playgrounds effective immediately.

“To close our City’s playgrounds was a difficult decision for me,” Mayor Paula Dierenfeld said in a statement. “We want our residents to get outside, get some fresh air, and exercise. During these stressful times, it is important for the well-being of our resident’s mental and physical health. We became convinced taking action to close our playgrounds was necessary to protect Johnston’s families and our youth from further spread of the coronavirus.”

Courts and fields remain open but "team sports, pickup games, and contact play are prohibited."

Gov. Kim Reynolds press conference

COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the state, and it looks like there's no end in sight through this crisis.

Federal social distancing guidelines are now extended to April 30 President Trump announced Sunday evening.

"For now we must adjust to a new normal: one that's uncomfortable, it's inconvenient and it's uncertain," Reynolds said. "But we know something about Iowans. It's that we are at our best when times are tough."

Several Iowa companies are making face shields, like John Deere and Iowa City Fab Lab.

Reynolds also announced an outbreak from Linn County. A care facility in Cedar Rapids is believed to be the epicenter of an outbreak that has infected 21 people. An outbreak happens when three or more people are infected in one area. 

RELATED: Gov. Reynolds says outbreak at Iowa care facility has infected 21

Latest numbers from Iowa Department of Public Health

88 additional positive tests have brought the state's total to 424. 6,162 tests have come back negative. 

Two additional deaths were also reported: Both individuals 81 or older, one from Linn County and one from Washington County.

There have now been six total COVID-19 fatalities in Iowa.

RELATED: 2 more Iowans die from COVID-19 complications, 88 additional positive cases

2020 80/35 Music Fest canceled

Downtown Des Moines' 80/35 Music Festival has been canceled due to COVID-19. 

"It's with a sad song in our hearts to inform you our friends, volunteers, artists and passion music fans that we have decided to cancel the 13th annual 80/38 festival," organizers wrote on social media.

Principal Charity Classic rescheduled for September

The Principal Charity Classic presented by Wells Fargo is rescheduled from May 26-31 to Sept. 1-6 at Wakonda Club in Des Moines. All tickets purchased to this point will be honored for the new date.

“Iowans have remarkable strength in unifying toward a common cause,” said Dan Houston, Chairman, President and CEO of Principal. 

“Right now, our collective efforts are focused on immediate response to the current crisis. But when we get through this – and I know we will -- we look forward to joining together, once again, at the Principal Charity Classic for great golf in support of Iowa children’s charities.”

ACLU, Planned Parenthood file lawsuit to keep "essential abortion procedures" available in Iowa during pandemic

The ACLU of Iowa and Planned Parenthood Federation of America filed a lawsuit against Gov. Kim Reynolds and other state officials to "ensure that patients can continue to access essential, time-sensitive surgical abortion services" during the COVID-19 crisis.

The lawsuit is in response to Reynolds' Proclamation of Disaster Emergency for COVID-19 and her statement published in the Des Moines Register on March 27, taking the position that surgical abortion is prohibited under the proclamation.

MercyOne North Iowa confirms employee tested positive

An employee at MercyOne North Iowa in Mason City tested positive for COVID-19, according to a letter sent from President and CEO Rod Schlader. The letter is dated for March 27.

Schlader's letter says the employee followed the hospital's protocols and stayed home when they didn't feel well. The employee realized they had contact with someone who had tested positive with COVID-19. They were tested shortly after.

No personal details were shared about the employee, but Schlader stated that the employee had no direct contact with any patients.

Updated leave policy from Iowa Workforce Development

Workers in Iowa will not longer have to use all of their paid leave in order to become eligible for unemployment benefits, Iowa Workforce Development announced Monday.

The change is effective immediately but 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.

According to IWD, the paid leave usage requirement was part of the Iowa Unemployment Trust Fund, which is funded entirely by emloyers and "is the source of all benefit payment to claimants." The recently-signed CARES Act "has provided a significant source of additional funding for claimants" regarding COVID-19.

"Due to the complexity of program requirements, this process will take time," IWD said in a statement. "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 www.IowaWorkforceDevelopment.gov

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