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Live updates: Free boxed lunches offered to truck drivers; confirmed COVID-19 cases in Iowa top 100

There are now 105 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Iowa as of Monday morning.

There are now 105 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Iowa as of Monday morning. Half of those cases have been confirmed over the weekend.

National organizations are implementing changes to guard against the spread of the virus.

Local 5 has compiled what is and isn't happening across the state.

The coronavirus is now in community spread in Iowa, according to Gov. Kim Reynolds. 

Tuesday, March 24

Complimentary boxed meals for truckers

They're on the roads bringing us the essentials items we need and today the Iowa Motor Truck Association will be providing one thousand boxed lunches for truck drivers.

Drivers can get their complimentary lunch at the Jasper County Weigh Station Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and and Wednesday in Dallas County.

The boxed lunches have been prepared by Gateway Market, In The Bag Deli, Main Street Café & Bakery and Palmer's Deli.

Monday, March 23

Governor launches new website for latest COVID-19 information

Gov. Kim Reynolds' state agencies have coordinated a new website for the latest details and information about coronavirus in our state. Go here for update information and graphs that track the disease in our state.

Des Moines Public Schools employee tests positive for COVID-19

An employee at Cowles Montessori School has "self-identified" as testing positive, according to DMPS Superintendent Dr. Tom Ahart. 

The employee worked at Cowles through March 13.

"This is a very unusual time, one none of us have ever experienced, but we pledge to do everything we can in support of our community," Ahart and Health Services Supervisor Diane Gladson wrote to families and staff. "We cannot wait until the day when students return to our classrooms, but that day will not come until we are certain it is in the best interest of our health and well-being."

Norwalk Community School District also reports its first positive test

A central office support staff member with the Norwalk Community School District tested positive, and the district contacted Warren County Health Services.

"It is important to remember that children are greatly influenced by the reactions of adults when facing difficult circumstances," Superintendent D.T. Magee said. "I encourage everyone to remain calm and to be empathic and respectful to those affected."

Second employee in Urbandale Community School District tests positive

An employee who works primarily at Webster Elementary in Urbandale but also visitd Karen Acres Elementary has tested positive for the coronavirus.

"Although students were NOT in the presence of the employee while the employee was experiencing symptoms, we believe it is important to err on the side of caution by informing specific families of this situation," Superintendent Steve Bass wrote in a letter to families and staff. "In doing so, we requested that they monitor their child’s health and be in touch with their medical provider as needed."

This is the second staff member from the district that school officials have confirmed tested positive.

RELATED: Urbandale Community School District employee tests positive for COVID-19

DART to reduce routes to "only take necessary trips"

CDL holders with expired certificates will not have CDL downgraded

Commercial Driver’s License holders in Iowa who have an expired medical examiner’s certificate or a certificate that is about to expire will not have their CDL downgraded during the COVID-19 emergency, according to the Iowa Department of Transportation.

Any driver’s license that expired Jan. 16 or later will not be enforced during the emergency period. That means that CDL holders can still continue to operate even if their license expired during the dates covered.

Iowa Secretary of State expands mail-in voting period to 40 days

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate announced that voters participating via mamiled absentee ballot now have 40 days to vote by mail in the June primary.

"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 in a statement.

State-based disaster assistance issued for small businesses

Reynolds announced a three-pronged plan for a small business relief program in Iowa. The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA), Iowa Department of Revenue (IDR) and Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) are making funds available for small grants to be awarded to small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The grants will range $5,000 to $25,000 for businesses with two to 25 employees. The IDR will automatically extend the sales and withholding tax deadline for any business that receives a grant and will consider an extension for those that apply.

The IWD will allow businesses with fewer than 50 employees to delay their unemployment tax payments for the first quarter until July 31.

"I fully understand that this doesn't make up for having your businesses close for a period of time or your customers staying home," Reynolds said, "but it is our hope that we can help businesses weather the storm."

"And as governor, I want you to know that I am committed to helping them do just that," she said.

Case workers given new protocols for handling welfare checks

The DHS has instituted a pre-contact health screening for symptoms of coronavirus for all case workers who handle welfare checks.  

Social workers are asked a maintain a distance of at least six feet from all clients during assessments.  They've also been instructed to use hand sanitizer before and immediately after entering and homes where assessments are being conducted.

Case workers have also been asked to not take out any items such as pen and paper over the course of the visit.  If a visit is being held in an office, the table surfaces will be cleaned with bleach immediately before and after the visit.

City of Des Moines playgrounds closing all playgrounds

Des Moines Parks and Recreation announced Monday that all city playgrounds are closed "effective immediately."

Parks and trails remain open.

City of Des Moines council meeting goes virtual

The Monday Des Moines City Council meeting will be accessible via teleconferencing, as well as streaming live on DMTV – Mediacom Channel 7 and 777 (HD).

You can see the agenda and find out how to participate here.

Board of Regents establishes Student Emergency Assistance Funds

While Iowa State University, University of Iowa and University of Northern Iowa have all moved exclusively online for the rest of the spring and canceled spring commencement ceremonies, the Board of Regents has established emergency funds to students who may be affected by COVID-19.

"Alumni, fans and friends of the state’s universities who are interested in supporting students can donate to one or more of the funds, which will help students with issues such as housing and food insecurity, travel expenses, technology expenses for online learning, and other financial challenges," the Board of Regents said in a statement.

Number of positive cases surpasses 100

New numbers from the Iowa Department of Public Health show 105 Iowans tested positive for the coronavirus. More than half of those were confirmed over the weekend. Over 2,000 have tested negative.

Iowa Department of Public Health launches COVID-19 in Iowa website

The IDPH is using a new website to compile all of the information on COVID-19 in the state. It includes the current status of the state along with symptoms, prevention and additional resources.

Iowa-based Winnebago temporarily halts production

Based in Forest City, RV and boat manufacturer Winnebago Industries says it is ceasing production to protect workers from COVID-19.

Production will stop this week and remain idle through April 12. The company will provide base pay and benefits for two weeks.

Updated information from Des Moines Public Library

In addition to all DMPL locations being closed until further notice, the Central Library has closed its pickup window and announced existing holds will not be available for pickup.

DMPL is also unable to answer phone calls.

Schools across the state are offering grab-and-go options for families; children 18 and under

Des Moines Public Schools is partnering with DMARC and the Food Bank of Iowa to provide food for kids and families who need it while the schools are shut down.  

You can find a full list of locations and times here.

Marshalltown Community Schools will also provide food for students who rely on school lunches to get fed.  They will have grab-and-go lunches at all school locations from 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.  Availability will be communicated through their website and Facebook page.

In addition, Marshalltown Community Schools will start the "Meals Close to Home" program. It'll provide six bus routes to deliver meals to Marshalltown, and different parts of the district.

The Saydel Community School District is also offering free breakfast and lunch to all children 18 and under starting Monday.

Grab-and-go meals will be available from 11:30-1 p.m. in the parking lot or bus lane of each location. Children must be present.

Starting Monday, the Urbandale Community School District will offer free 'to-go' breakfast and lunch for children 18 and under until school reopens. A child does not need to be a Urbandale CSD student to receive a free meal. 

Grab N’ Go Meal Locations:

  • Jensen Elementary 11:00 AM – 11:20 AM
  • Karen Acres Elementary 11:30 AM -11:50 AM 
  • Valerius Elementary 12:00 PM – 12:30 PM

Waukee Community Schools will offer free breakfast and lunch for pick up for children under the age of 18. This will begin Monday, March 23 and go thorugh April 10. 

It will be offered Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-noon at Windfield West Apartments and Sun Prairie Apartments.

RELATED: Coronavirus in Iowa: Here's how public health emergency will affect the way you shop, dine

Sunday, March 22

IDPH confirms additional 22 cases, total is now 90

There are now 90 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Iowa.

University of Iowa Health Care asks for protective face shield donations

Protective face shields are crucial for keeping hospital staff safe and preventing the spread of illnesses like COVID-19. There is a national shortage of this protective gear according to UI Hospitals & Clinics CEO Suresh Gunasekaran, MBA. 

RELATED: Face shields needed: University of Iowa Health Care asking for new, used donations for hospital staff

Public Heath Emergency expands to include more businesses, relaxed restrictions

Gov. Reynolds has signed a new proclamation continuing the State Public Health Emergency Declaration.  The proclamation includes closing more types of businesses and suspending various requirements to make things easier during the pandemic.

Businesses that deal with close personal contact are the latest to be ordered to close down, including barbershops, massage therapy establishments, medical spas, tattoo parlors, tanning places and other salons.

To further help Iowans along during this time, Gov. Reynolds has also ordered the suspension of foreclosures on all residential, commercial and agricultural properties.

Gov. Reynolds has also put measures forth to prevent the expiration of medical licences.

RELATED: Iowa tattoo shops, hair salons forced to close up shop during pandemic

Saturday, March 21

Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie urges residents to "Stay Home, Stay Healthy"

In the interest of keeping residents of Des Moines safe and healthy during the pandemic, Mayor Cownie urged them to impose a strict practice of "Stay Home, Stay Healthy." 

He recommends Des Moines residents limit their time outside for the next two weeks.

An additional 23 positive cases confirmed, bringing total to 68

The IDPH confirmed 23 more COVID-19 cases across 12 counties in Iowa. Cases range from 18 to 81 years or older. Find the full list here.

Six Johnson County patients recover from COVID-19, according to officials

Six of the previously-identified positive cases of coronavirus in Johnson County are considered recovered and no longer infectious, according to Johnson County Public Health. There were 22 cases including those six reported in the county, most contracted on the Egyptian cruise.

Linn County confirms its first case of COVID-19

A woman between the ages of 41 to 60 is the first to be diagnosed with COVID-19 in Linn County, according to public health officials. They said she was aware of being exposed to the virus and followed CDC guidelines. She is recovering from home.

Health officials: Drinking hot water does not kill the virus 

Friday, March 20

Krause Gateway Center employee tests positive for coronavirus

A full-time associate at the Krause Gateway Center confirmed they were tested positive for coronavirus on Friday. The center, which is home to the parent company of Kum & Go, will be closed for the next two weeks.

Statewide shelter order not in place yet for Iowa, Gov. Reynolds says

Gov. Kim Reynolds worked to reassure Iowans Friday as the number of people with confirmed cases of coronavirus is up to 45 in the state.

The governor said they are working to strengthen detection for COVID-19.

"We do expect at some point and time for testing capacity to expand but at this particular point in time since we do have a limited supply available, that those tests be prioritized," Reynolds said.

In addition, the state is making extra help available for people who are facing unemployment because of the coronavirus outbreak. 

For more information on filing benefits, click here.

Gov. Reynolds signed an additional State Public Health Emergency to provide "additional regulatory relief" to Iowans impacted by the spread of the coronavirus.

According to the governor's office, the declaration effective through April 16 states:

  • Temporarily suspends collection of property taxes and penalties and interest until the end of the proclamation
  • Temporarily suspends some evictions under the Iowa Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act or the Manufactured Home Communities or Mobile Home Parks Residential Landlord and Tenant Act in certain circumstances
  • Extends expiration deadline for a permit to carry and a permit to acquire a firearm and additional measures
  • Permits the sale of carry-out, delivery, drive-thru of alcohol for unopened bottles of alcohol for bars and restaurants and suspends some fees
  • Permits public meetings or hearings by electronic means to improve the functions of government while maintaining social distancing practices
  • Suspends certain regulations to ease the transportation of agricultural supplies and commodities, food, medical supplies, cleaning products, and other household goods on all highways in Iowa
  • The proclamation also allows related state agencies to implement the state’s public health emergency plan

Read the full proclamation below

For the latest on how school districts and restaurants are adjusting to a state health emergency during the coronavirus spread, click here.

Iowa internet providers take the "Keep Americans Connected" pledge

Over a dozen companies in the state such as CenturyLink and Mediacom will waive late fees and ensure customers are able to stay connected as part of the FCC's efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.

Des Moines City Council meeting changes 

The City of Des Moines announced Friday only certain people, including them mayor, city Manager, city attorney and city clerk will be physically present at the 4:30 p.m. meeting from Council Chambers. 

The city council members will connect remotely through teleconferencing, a release from the city said.

In addition, several public hearings have been postponed until the April 20 city council meeting.

More information on the changes are available here.

Des Moines Area Community College cancels spring commencement

Administrators at Des Moines Area Community College announced they've canceled Spring Commencement that was scheduled for May 6 at Wells Fargo Arena in downtown Des Moines.

DMACC said this also affects commencement exercises at the Boone Campus Gymnasium and the DMACC Carroll Campus Commencement. 

They say graduating students that meet requirements will receive their diploma or degrees in the mail.

Nationwide employee in Des Moines tests positive

A spokesperson Nationwide firm said a Des Moines employee is receiving treatment and recovering well after testing positive for COVID-19.

Nationwide said all of its facilities in Des Moines were deep-cleaned and sanitized Thursday night. 

The company said they've had a work-from-home policy for the vast majority of its workers since March 18. They said only a small number of employees continue to work in the office.

211 help line gets thousands of calls

2-1-1 has been in operation since Tuesday at 8 a.m. So far more than 1,400 people have called in to 2-1-1 for COVID-19 related questions. Polk County Health Department and medical professionals agree that so far, the 2-1-1 system has been a success. As of Friday, only three of the more than 1,400 callers have been referred to hospitals or clinical settings for further evaluation.

Childcare Guidance

The Iowa Department of Human Services thanked childcare providers for their dedicated services to local families and their community as they continue to work and keep our children safe. 

The DHS is encouraging a limit of 10 children per room and encouraging social distancing in all ways. 

This includes dropping off kids at the door to limit exposure inside the buildings. 

They are also encouraging providers continue the already thorough cleaning and hygiene practices and add in extra steps to ensure the safety of their children and limiting spread. 

For more information on the new DHS guidelines, click here

Thursday, March 19

Visitor to 801 Grand in downtown Des Moines tests positive for COVID-19

Principal Financial Group tells Local 5 that person, who visited 801 Grand, tested positive for COVID-19.

The company said they've alerted employees and other tenants of the building, and have asked all work inside the skyscraper to self-quarantine.

Confirmed cases in Iowa increases

Iowa's total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the state is now 44, Gov. Reynolds announced Thursday afternoon.

"There is not a specific medicine or vaccine for COVID-19 at this time," said Dr. Caitlin Pedati with the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Polk County Health Department answers your COVID-19 questions

Are jail inmates being released early because of the coronavirus?

Story County Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald tells Local 5 individuals being held on non-violent misdemeanor charges will be released and that "arrangements will be made for them to come in and finish their sentences at a later time."

Fitzgerald says the move will increase the areas available for isolation, for those showing symptoms similar to those of COVID-19, they can be kept away from other inmates and jail staff.

According to Fitzgerald, no individual inmates have petitioned the jail to be released early.

University of Iowa student tests positive for COVID-19

The University of Iowa said a student in the College of Dentistry has self-identified as being positive for COVID-19.

Those who had close contact with the student have been notified, according to university officials. Those people include a single patient seen by the student while they were symptomatic.

Officials said the student was last on campus on March 12 and does not live in the residence halls. They are currently self-isolating at a location off-campus.

Iowa Medicaid recipients suspending premiums and cost sharing requirements

Iowa Medicaid released an informational letter to providers saying they are suspending all premiums and cost sharing requirements for Medicaid members. Until the pandemic is under control, you will not be required to pay your copays and monthly fees for Medicaid-covered services. In addition, you can (with your health care provider's permission) get up to 90 days of medications filled. This is all effective back to March 13, 2020. You can see the informational letter here.

City Hall, other city buildings to close in Ames

Ames city officials announced City Hall, and other public facilities will be closed at 5:00 p.m. Thursday because of the coronavirus outbreak. 

The closure will last until May 15, leaders said. 

They said Ames police's lobby will remain open to the public. In addition, there will be 

More information is available here

West Des Moines businesses offering free sandwiches and sanitizers

Tenants of the FoundryDSM in West Des Moines' Valley Junction are coming together to give out free sandwiches and santizier Friday.

It'll take place from noon-6:00 p.m. while supplies last. You can grab some of the sandwiches and sanitizer at 111 South 11th Street in West Des Moines.

Hy-Vee takes new steps amid coronavirus outbreak 

Hy-Vee has announced numerous changes they're making in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The supermarket chain will be installing temporary protective windows at checkpoints starting Friday. 

In addition, Hy-Vee is no longer allowing customers to bring in reusable bags. 

Standardized testing in Iowa is suspended until further notice 

Iowa Testing Programs, which develops the state of Iowa's standardized tests, has announced it’s suspending testing until further notice, according to the Iowa Department of Education.

“As you may know, Iowa Testing Programs has announced Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress testing is suspended until further notice,” the Iowa Department of Education said in guidance issued to schools Wednesday. “Beyond this, we anticipate updated guidance from the federal government very soon. Iowa will make decisions based upon most up-to-date federal guidance and communicate to the field as soon as possible.”

Iowa FFA Leadership Conference canceled

The Iowa FFA Association announced Thursday its leadership conference, planned for April 19-21 at Iowa State University, has been canceled. 

Organizers said they plan to deliver facets of the conference on an alternative schedule, at a date to be determined.

Bridgestone Americas announces plant closures

Bridgestone Americas said Thursday they plan to shut down their plants starting the weekend of March 21. This includes their location in Des Moines. The shutdown is expected to last until April 12.  

Iowa Department of Revenue makes announcement about state taxes

The Iowa Department of Revenue today extended the filing and payment deadline for several state tax types, including income tax. The changes, prompted by COVID19, are designed to provide flexibility to hard-working Iowans whose lives have been disrupted. The changes are a result of an order signed earlier today by Director of Revenue Kraig Paulsen.

The order extends filing and payment deadlines for income, franchise, and moneys and credits taxes with a due date on or after March 19, 2020, and before July 31, 2020, to a new deadline of July 31, 2020.

WiFi still available at Des Moines libraries

Despite Des Moins Public Library locations being closed due to the spread of COVID-19, wireless internet is still available for those parked outside or working nearby.

Des Moines Public Schools undergoing major cleaning

Since the DMPS Coronavirus closure began on March 13, only select personnel have been allowed into our buildings. Staff have not had access as operations team cleans and disinfects surfaces and equipment in each building. 

Credit: WOI

Marshalltown School Board will provide pay district's hourly employees

The board adopted a resolution that says the district's hourly employees will receive their regular pay and benefits contingent upon being available for assignment during the school closure which is set to end April 10, 2020. This includes paraeducators, 10-month secretaries, bus drivers, bus monitors and food service employees.

Iowa National Guard gives support to Public Health

Over the last several days, the Iowa Air National Guard provided facilities and flight line support to the Iowa Department of Public Health as the department processed Iowans returning from the Grand Princess Cruise Ship.

Credit: Iowa Nartional Guard

IANG senior leaders are closely monitoring the latest COVID-19 Force Health Protection guidance and working to implement the U.S. Department of Defense domestic travel restrictions as they seek to protect service members and civilians employees, maintain mission readiness and support the whole-of-government effort. 

Wednesday, March 18

MercyOne North Iowa opens COVID-19 testing site

The testing site is located at the North Iowa Event Center. 

Due to limited test kits, only individuals who meet a specific criteria provided by the Iowa Department of Public Health will be tested. 

The drive through clinic is only available to those who have been screened and referred. Hours are 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The hours and days of operation may be adjusted to reflect need. 

Confirm cases in Iowa now at 38

Nine additional positive cases of COVID-19 were announced Wednesday evening by the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Two are from Polk County, two are from Dallas County, three are from Johnson County, one is from Washington County and one other is from Winneshiek County.

New law expands role of physician's assistants in Iowa

Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill that expanded the role of physician's assistants in Iowa, to help deal with the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The bill allows for among other things, full prescriptive rights by PAs and the ability to be reimbursed by Medicaid

More information about SF 2357 is available here

Neal Smith Federal Building 

Officials said Wednesday the Neal Smith Federal Building is closed to the public beginning Thursday, until further notice. They said employees should direct questions to their agency.

Iowa Dept. of Public Health requests public to donate personal protective equipment 

Businesses and organizations are urged to donate personal protective equipment, or PPE, by contacting their local public health department and the county emergency management agency.

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) is encouraging Iowa businesses and organizations to donate extra personal protective equipment to assist health care providers and health care facilities responding to COVID-19.

"This is an unprecedented public health disaster, and stocks of personal protective equipment for health care providers are being used rapidly," said Ken Sharp, division director of Acute Disease Prevention, Emergency Response and Environmental Health. "Any organizations that have extra PPE supplies that aren't immediately needed should consider donating them to help those on the front lines of this disease."

Any type of health care PPE will be welcomed, especially gloves, gowns, eye protection, and masks. Local public health and local emergency management officials can work to address needs locally and beyond.

All 3 public universities cancel spring commencement, extend online classes through at least the spring semester

The University of Iowa and Iowa State University have canceled their spring commencement ceremonies and will conduct all classes virtually through the spring semester.

"We are extremely disappointed to announce that we must cancel spring commencement ceremonies," the school said in an online announcement. "We know how much these ceremonies mean to our students and their families, but we feel it is the right decision to protect those most vulnerable to the threat of infection."

Beginning March 30, all courses will be online.

Most residence halls will be closed as well, according to the university: 

"We ask that students do not return to the residence halls until their designated time to move out. If a student is currently on campus for spring break, they should begin preparations to move out. We realize that not all students have alternative housing and dining options, and we will continue to accommodate students who cannot immediately return to their permanent residence."

Online classes for Iowa State University will begin March 23

The Department of Residence will be "restricting" on-campus living in resident halls beginning March 22.

Spring commencement has been canceled as well.

"We regret that Iowa State must also cancel spring commencement ceremonies for undergraduates, graduate students, and veterinary medicine students," ISU President Wendy Wintersteen said in a letter.

She noted that a live-stream option for May graduation is in the works.

The University of Northern Iowa, in addition to cancelling spring commencement, will hold all classes online through both the spring and summer semesters.

"We continue to appreciate the way in which the entire campus community has come together in order to address the disruption that we face, and especially to make certain that we protect our most vulnerable populations," UNI said in a statement. 

Iowa State

City of Johnston declares State of Emergency 

Johnston Mayor Paula Dierenfeld has declared a State of Emergency because of the COVID-19 outbreak. The declaration, the mayor said, will waive certain contracting requirements and allows modifications to HR policies. 

More information about the declaration is available here

City of Indianola declares State of Emergency 

Mayor Kelly Shaw announced a State of Emergency on social media Wednesday. The mayor notes the proclamation follows Governor Reynolds. 

Simpson College postpones commencement

In a letter to students, interim President Bob Lane said: 

"It is with a heavy heart that I announce, given current Centers for Disease Control guidelines, that we are postponing commencement to a later date still yet to be determined. There are multiple considerations and we will announce details as they are finalized. I want to assure you that we are committed to providing an opportunity for the class to celebrate. I promise that we will be in touch with further details as they are made."

Des Moines Parks and Recreation

Facilities have closed with events canceled or postponed through May 11. Parks and trails remain open.

Grocery stores open for individuals at higher risk for COVID-19

Customers at Fareway's Urbandale location utilize the 8-9 a.m. hour designated for individuals 65 years old and up, expecting mothers and people with underlying health issues.

Shopping centers

Jordan Creek Town Center: Will operate between noon and 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. They have posted more information about its COVID-19 response online.

Valley West Mall: Open from noon to 6 p.m. 

Von Maur will be closed starting March 19 until March 28. JCPenney will be open Monday-Saturday noon-7 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Merle Hay Mall: Will be open Monday-Saturday from Noon until 7:00 p.m., and Sunday from noon until 5:30 p.m. In addition, access to the children's play area is restricted. 

Outlets of Des Moines: From March 17-29, hours will be 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Southridge Mall: New hours of 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday. 

Iowa DOT making changes to licenses, registration deadlines, expirations; REAL ID appointments asked to be delayed

Iowans hoping to get their REAL ID will have to wait a little longer.

“The health and safety of our customers is our priority, so we ask that if they are only coming into our service centers to get their REAL ID gold star right now, they delay that,” said Andrea Henry, spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Transportation.v“As of right now the enforcement deadline for REAL IDs is still Oct. 1. We do know there are conversations going on with the federal government on the impacts COVID-19 will have on that.” 

If you have a driver’s license that has an expiration date of Jan. 16, 2020, or later you do not have to renew your license at this time. It will remain valid for driving purposes until the declared disaster has ended.  

If your vehicle registration expired Jan. 16, 2020, or later will be considered valid until the declared disaster has ended.  

If you are purchasing or transferring a vehicle you will not be required to obtain a title and registration within 30 days. This will remain in effect until the declared disaster is over. 

If you purchase a vehicle from a dealer you will not be required to obtain license plates within 45 days. This will remain in effect until the declared disaster is over. 

Driver’s license and ID business is being conducted by appointment. This move is being made to limit the number of people waiting in a location at a time. Customers should make appointments online or by calling 515-244-8725. 

RELATED: Some grocery stores limiting hours to keep shelves stocked during coronavirus outbreak

Tuesday, March 17

Additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Iowa

29 Iowans have tested positive for COVID-19, the Iowa Department of Public Health announced Tuesday evening.

Three of the new cases were confirmed in Johnson County, while Adair, Blackhawk and Dallas counties each contained one confirm case.

Pella Tulip Time canceled

For only the second time in its 85-year history, the annual Pella Tulip Time has been canceled.

"This is the only way that we can keep our visitors safe, our volunteers, our participants, our residents of Pella and anyone else involved in the festival," said Valerie Van Kooten, Executive Director of Pella Historical Society and Museums. "We feel we must take the warnings of the CDC and the [Iowa Department of Public Health] very seriously."

Gov. Reynolds issues a State of Public Health Disaster Emergency

All bars and restaurants in Iowa closed suddenly at noon Tuesday following an emergency health proclamation from Gov. Reynolds due to the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

"These are unprecedented times and the state of Iowa will do whatever is necessary to address this public health disaster," Reynolds said. "I have authorized all available state resources, supplies, equipment and materials to combat the spread of COVID-19. The actions taken today are necessary to protect the health and safety of all Iowans and are critical to mitigating the spread of the virus.”

Establishments can still offer delivery and drive-thru options.

Grocery shopping will look a little different due to coronavirus outbreak

Stores will be reducing their hours to allow for more time to clean and stock the shelves. A special hour in the morning will be dedicated to allow senior shoppers, expecting mothers, and folks with underlying health conditions to shop.

  • ALDI: New store hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
  • Fareway: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday, with the first hour (8-9 a.m.) reserved for those 65 and older, expecting mothers and individuals with a "serious chronic medical condition".
  • Hy-Vee: All stores (excluding convenience stores, which will run during their normal hours) will operate from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. An hour from 7-8 a.m. has been reserved for those 60 years old and up, expecting mothers and individuals with underlying health conditions.
  • Target: Reduced hours with stores closing by 9 p.m. daily; first hour of each day reserved for the elderly and those with underlying health concerns.
  • Walmart: All locations o pen 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

RELATED: The Station on Ingersoll setting up to-go orders for those in need

Monday, March 16

Schools closing, spring high school athletics suspended 

School districts around the state have announced closings amid the COVID-19. 

For a full list of school closings, click here.

Credit: AP
A sign in front of Lincoln High School shows that all Des Moines Public Schools will be closed until April 13th due to the coronavirus pandemic, Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Spring athletics have also been suspended four weeks, per Gov. Reynolds' recommendation. 

Among the districts that have cancelled classes and activities for four weeks: Ames, Ankeny, Des Moines, Southeast Polk and Waukee. Des Moines Public School District, the largest educator in the state, said that it's getting creative to reach students right now.

Law enforcement 

The lobby of the Polk County Jail and Polk County Sheriff's Office Patrol headquarters will be closed to the public.

Visitors are asked to utilize the I-web visitation service available online to communicate with inmates. The Sheriff’s Office is working to provide up to two free online visits each week utilizing I-web visit. Professional visits will be conducted in the same manor or over the phone. 

RELATED: What are emergency personnel doing to handle the coronavirus?

Prairie Meadows 

The casino, race track and hotel will be temporarily closing, affective 5 p.m. Monday. No specific return date has been determined yet.

Prairie Meadows has put a compensation plan into effect to help affected employees. The plan will last 30 days, and will be re-evaluated if the shut-down lasts longer than that.

St. Patrick's Day festivities canceled

The St. Patrick's Day Block Party, hosted by Annie's Irish Pub, is postponed. Annie's staff and Des Moines city officials are working to figure out a new date.

“We love to celebrate this holiday with our friends every year,” Annie’s Owner Annie Baldwin said in a statement. “But we take these recommendations by our leaders seriously, so we’ve decided to postpone the event.”

The Des Moines St. Paddy's 5K and Half Marathon has also been postponed to a later date, which has yet to be determined.

This year's St. Patrick's Day Parade has been canceled.

RELATED: Annie's Irish Pub postpones St. Patrick's Day Block Party

Science Center of Iowa 

The Science Center is closed through March 27. The plan is to open back up on Saturday the 28th, but will stay closed longer if guidelines from the CDC, IDPH and Gov. Reynolds call for it.

The SCI preschool program will remain open through the 20th, and will be re-evaluated after that point.

In order to contain the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), the Scienc... e Center of Iowa will temporarily close to the public starting Monday, March 16, at 10:00 am, through Friday, March 27. All events and programming during this period also are cancelled.

Des Moines Performing Arts 

All Civic Center performances are postponed through March 22, including My Fair Lady, which was set to run March 17-22.

The Des Moines Symphony's performance of Carmina Burana is postponed to sometime in the fall.

Anyone with tickets to these events should retain those tickets.

Public libraries 

All Des Moines Public Library locations will be closed until further notice. With that, they are now offering the public a chance to download a digital library card.

Due to the Des Moines Public Library being closed to the public, we ... are now offering people the opportunity to sign up for a digital library card. If you already have a Des Moines Public Library card, you do not need a digital card to access digital materials.

The Ames Public Library will be closed starting Tuesday through May 15. E-books and other online resources will still be available.

Ames Public Library is working with the City of Ames, community part... ners, and health partners to take proactive precautions in hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19 and ensuring the safety of library staff, volunteers, and customers.

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden 

The Botanical Garden announced Monday that they will close Tuesday, March 17 through Wednesday, March 31 "in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19".

All events, classes and programs during this time period are also postponed or canceled.

The Botanical Garden plans to reopen on Thursday, April 1, but will "continue to follow the recommendations" of public health officials and Gov. Reynolds, according to a statement. 


Several shows at Wells Fargo Arena—MercyMe, Sesame Street Live!, Jeff Dunham and CHER—have been cancelled or postponed. 

  • CHER: April 16 show has been rescheduled to September 28
  • MercyMe: March 26 concert has been postponed.
  • Sesame Street Live! Make Your Magic: March 30 & 31 shows have been cancelled
  • Jeff Dunham: April 1 shows has been moved to July 30

Wooly's in Des Moines' East Village has closed their box office through March 31 and are "working to reschedule" shows.

AMC Theatres, which operations locations in Des Moines (Southridge 12) and Urbandale (Cobblestone 9) will close for 6 to 12 weeks.

Food and shopping 

Chick-fil-A and Starbucks have both temporarily closed their indoor seating areas, and Walmart has modified its hours to allow for restocking and sanitizing.

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