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In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, AARP Iowa is providing information and resources to help older Iowans and those caring for them protect themselves from the virus and help prevent it from spreading to others. If you have coronavirus symptoms, call your health care provider or local public health department to figure out if you could — and should — get tested. Signs of the virus are a dry cough, fever and shortness of breath.
Read more from AARP about coronavirus and how to stay safe.
State of Iowa Response:
Governor Kim Reynolds issued a State of Public Health Disaster Emergency activating the public health response and recovery aspects of the State Disaster Emergency Plan effective March 17th. Iowa has tested over 450,000 residents and created 13 Test Iowa locations.
“These are unprecedented times and the state of Iowa will do whatever is necessary to address this public health disaster. I have authorized all available state resources, supplies, equipment and materials to combat the spread of COVID-19,” said Gov. Reynolds. “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.”
Livestream press conferences and stay current on information from Governor Reynolds.
State and Local Health Information:
- State of Iowa Coronavirus website: The State of Iowa has a committed Coronavirus website that can answer questions about symptoms, prevention, what to do if you think you are sick, and other resources.
- CovidRecoveryIowa.org: COVID Recovery Iowa offers free virtual counseling and assistance for all Iowans affected by COVID ‑ 19. Click here to submit a form to potentially receive this aid.
- Iowa Department of Public Health Coronavirus Website: The Iowa Department of Public Health as a coronavirus page on their website that includes information for use by facilities and businesses.
- Statewide Hotline 211: The Iowa Department of Public Health is working with United Way of Central Iowa to operate a state-wide hotline for general information about the coronavirus and its impact on our state. Individuals are encouraged to call 211 if they have questions. The United Way of Central Iowa has also posted helpful resources about what you can do to help.
- Iowa Area Agencies on Aging provide information and referrals to older adults, adults with disabilities, veterans and their caregivers, and coordinate a wide range of long-term living and community support services, such as case management, home-delivered meals, employment services, family caregiver services, options counseling, respite care and transportation services. They can be reached toll free at 800-532-3213.
- LifeLong Links is Iowa’s Aging and Disability Resource Center can connect Iowans to public and private service providers and programs at the local level and is accessible through a call center at 866-468-7887.
- Iowa Department of Human Services provides the Iowa Disaster Behavioral Health Response Team (DBHRT), a trained team of volunteers who will respond to the mental health needs of Iowa residents following disasters and critical incidents. For 24/7 disaster crisis counseling, call Iowa Concern Hotline at 800-447-1985.
- Iowa Department of Public Health "Your Life Iowa" Website: If you or a loved one are facing a problem with alcohol, drugs, gambling, mental health or suicidal thoughts, you’re not alone. That is why the Iowa Department of Public Health has created YourLifeIowa.org so Iowans can chat live, text, or call and get reliable information and treatment options, and find nearby help.
- Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) Website: Medicare questions, especially related to Medicare Rx or if you suspect a Medicare scam contact: 1-800-351-4664 Iowa’s SHIIP program
Resources for Caregivers:
- Be Prepared: Reference AARP's Caregiver Preparedness Fact Sheet for an overview of how to put a caregiving plan in place.
- Caring for Veterans: While all Americans are making changes to their daily lives, we know that older adults and those with chronic health conditions, many of whom are wounded, ill, or injured service members and veterans, are at higher risk for serious illness and complications from the coronavirus.
- Family Caregiving How-To Video Series: The "How-To" videos and resource guides for family caregivers are on specific medical and nursing tasks. This series includes preparing special diets, managing incontinence, wound care, mobility, and managing medications. The videos and resource guides, many of which are available in both English and Spanish, are free of charge.
- For Iowans in or with loved ones in long term care facilities: To slow the spread of COVID-19 to vulnerable older adults in long-term care facilities, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which regulates most skilled nursing homes, has issued strict guidelines on visitation to nursing homes. Most assisted living facilities not regulated by the federal government are also limiting or halting visitors to their facilities. Learn more here.
- To find out about visiting your loved one in a care facility, call the individual location to make sure you have the most up to date information about how to visit and resources available. Learn more about how to stay in touch with loved ones in your care who are in isolation.
- To request a call for yourself or a loved one from and AARP volunteer through the Friendly Voices program, fill out this form.
Food Assistance Resources:
- If financial difficulty is a barrier to food, find your closest food bank and other food assistance programs in your area. Iowa food banks to know about include: Des Moines Area Religious Council (Des Moines), Linn Community Food Bank (Cedar Rapids), River Bend Foodbank (Quad Cities), Northeast Iowa Foodbank, Food Bank for the Heartland (Omaha), Siouxland Food Bank (Sioux City), and St. Stephens Food Bank (Dubuque). Here is a list of additional food bank resources.
- In Des Moines, meals are available through some senior centers and Meals on Wheels. In Cedar Rapids, meals are available through the Linn Community Food Bank and Meals on Wheels. In most communities, contacting the local Area Agency on Aging will help point you in the right direction to receive meals.
- Ultilize grocery shopping apps, such as Instacart or Hyvee Aisles, to safely complete your shopping lists.
- Grocery stores to know about: Some grocery store chains, like Hy-Vee and Fareway, are offering early-morning shopping hours for older Iowans. Most grocery stores have changed hours and delivery pickup service policies, so check store websites. AARP has posted and will update this list as more stores participate.
- Pharmacies to be aware of:
- CVS pharmacies now offer free delivery of prescriptions and other essentials. Click this link to learn more. In-store hours vary by location.
- Most Walgreens are open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and open one hour early for senior shoppers on Tuesdays. They offer free shipping on prescription refills and same day delivery is available in select locations through Postmates.
Resources for Employers and Employees:
- The state has announced assistance for employees and employers affected by COVID- 19 related lay-offs. Go to the Iowa Workforce Development Coronavirus website for more information.
- To find out about Iowa Business Recovery Resources, visit the Iowa Economic Development Authority COVID-19 Impact website.
- U.S. Chamber Webinar Recording for Federal Financial Relief Options for Small Businesses – this popular webinar took place on 4/1, if you weren’t able to attend or want to forward the information along to someone else, here’s the link! You will need to “register” for it then you’ll be able to watch the recording.
- A new Small Business COVID-19 Tip Sheet, developed by AARP in collaboration with Public Private Strategies, provides guidance for business owners on how to manage during this crisis. Tips range from how to keep your business open to how to prepare for the future.
- Economic impact payments (stimulus checks) will be issued as a result of the passage of H.R. 748. Social Security recipients are also eligible. Know how much you can expect and when by following this link.
- Federal, state and local individual income tax filing deadlines have been extended to July 2020. For more information about federal income tax deadlines, visit this link. Specific information related to state and local deadline extensions may be found here.
- Due to the Covid-19 virus and the State of Iowa Public Health Disaster Emergency, the Iowa Department of Human Rights, Division of Community Action Agencies has extended the application period for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) through May 31, 2020. Families can apply for the Energy Assistance program at their local community action agency.
- Community action agencies have other types of help available, such as food and clothing pantries, and other services. You can find a link to information about your local community action agency by going to the Iowa Department of Human Rights' website at https://humanrights.iowa.gov/dcaa/where-apply.
Educational and Cultural Resources:
- Smithsonian Magazine offers links to ten museums to experience online.
- Connect with your neighbors and your community with AARP Community Connections.
- To continue supporting the Iowa tourism industry, we ask you to "visit virtually" with this list of ideas.
- Want to learn how to play a guitar? Fender is offering beginner-level classes online.
More on Coronavirus:
- To listen to AARP COVID-19 informational teleconference calls, please click here. AARP has hosted a variety of experts to discuss topics.
- Read more from AARP about coronavirus and how to stay safe.
- 7 Ways to Handle Anxiety During the Outbreak
- Practical Tips to Help Caregivers Reduce Exposure: If you are caring for a loved one with COVID 19, these are tips to reduce your exposure.