COVID-19 Local Updates
For up-to-date information on COVID-19 in Iowa
For up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit the IDPH webpage at https://idph.iowa.gov/Emerging-Health-Issues/Novel-Coronavirus or call the local Kossuth County Public Health hotline at 515-295-4451.
Kossuth County operations center requests volunteers
Kossuth County’s Emergency Operations Center is looking for volunteers. If you are interested in assisting during the pandemic, call 641-421-3066 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
If you need help, call the county emergency operations center at 515-395-9111. Currently there are 14 volunteers who have been used for different events and activities.
Kossuth County officials ask people to remain calm
With the first case of COVID-19 confirmed in the county, now is the time to stay calm and continue to practice preventive measures to help limit the spread of the virus, a press release said.
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations, according to David Penton, the county’s emergency management coordinator. He said the reactions are normal. They include:
• Anxiety, worry or fear related to the health of you and-or your loved ones;
• Frustration from the challenge of securing items you need, such as groceries and personal care items;
• Concern about caring for children, parents or others under your care;
• Uncertainty and frustration about the length of time that you remain in this situation;
• Loneliness from being cut off from a normal routine;
• Anger if you think you were exposed to the virus;
• Boredom from being removed from regular day-to-day activities;
• Unease about your personal financial situation and the future of our economy;
• Ambivalence or uncertainty about the current situation; and-or
• Disappointment due to canceled events with family and friends, closed restaurants and gathering places.
“Try to remain calm, take a deep breath and reach out to your local support system,” the release urged.
Penton said sticking to a routine, unplugging from social media that often provides false information and sticking to factual presentations, and giving yourself a break from the 24/7 cycle of cable TV news channels can help. Listening to music, reading a book and calling friends can help, too.
The release said if your anxiety or other mental health matter affects your ability to function, reach out to your health provider to discuss concerns. You can also go to www.YourLifeIowa.org for information on mental health, addiction, substance use and suicide prevention.
AMU waiving certain fees, announces office closures
Algona Municipal Utilities (AMU) issued new statements this week regarding some of its business practices and operational procedures in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Effective immediately, the AMU drive-through payment window is closed. Customers are asked to call AMU during normal business hours at 295-3584 to make an appointment for any business that needs to be conducted. All other AMU facilities are closed to the public, including walk-in traffic into the AMU Office at 104 W. Call St. The facilities will remain closed to the public until further notice. AMU will reevaluate the situation weekly.
AMU customers wanting to make utility and communications payments can make those payments in a drop box in front of the AMU office, in a drop box in the AMU drive-through online through the SmartHub App, available at www.netamu.com; by calling AMU’s toll-free secure payment line at 833-890-9503, or by calling AMU’s main line at 295-3584 after 4:30 p.m.
If you have issues with AMU communications services, call 515-295-6901.
In terms of late payments, the release said, “While on-time payment is encouraged, AMU will be waiving all late fees and suspending non-pay disconnection procedures through May 31, 2020. Normal collection procedures will resume June 1, 2020, however, we are more than willing to work with customers and set-up payment plans, if necessary.”
The implementation of new water rates applicable for water billed on or about March 31 have been postponed until May 31, the release said.
Grants part of Iowa small business relief actions
Gov. Kim Reynolds Tuesday launched a new Iowa Small Business Relief Program that will provide financial assistance to small businesses that have been economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program offers eligible small businesses grants ranging from $5,000-$25,000 in addition to offering Iowa businesses a deferral of sales and use or withholding taxes due and waiver of penalty and interest.
“Small businesses are the source of thriving main streets and community pride across Iowa,” said Gov. Reynolds. “The Small Business Relief Grant Program is another way we can support our small businesses during this unprecedented time.”
To be eligible for a small business relief grant, eligible businesses must be experiencing business disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it must have employed 2-25 people prior to March 17, 2020.
The grants will assist eligible businesses in maintaining operations or reopening business following the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds may not be used to pay debts incurred prior to March 17, 2020.
The Iowa Economic Development Authority will review grant applications for eligibility and will determine the grant amount by the level of impact including loss in sales revenue and employees. Notification of award decisions and disbursement of grant funds will be expedited.
Tax assistance may be awarded as well. The Iowa Department of Revenue will review each application as applicable, to determine if it is appropriate to grant a deferral of the eligible taxes and waiver of penalty and interest.
The dual application for grant assistance and tax deferral is available at iowabusinessrecovery.com. The deadline for applications is March 31 at 12 p.m. (noon). The program may be restricted due to funding availability.
Primary voting period extended to 40 days
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,” Secretary 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.
Grocers: There’s enough food
URBANDALE—As Iowa responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state’s grocery industry is adapting to unprecedented consumer demand.
“The demand for certain products has made it challenging to distribute goods fast enough to restock shelves with those items as quickly as consumers are purchasing them,” said Iowa Grocery Industry Association President Michelle Hurd.
“The important thing to know is that there is enough food and most items will be back in stock within a day or two. We are asking people to remain calm and buy only what you need for the week. This will allow us to get products back on store shelves and for everyone to get what they need.”
Hurd says that shortened store hours are not due to any shortages. Adjusted hours allow store employees the time they need to clean and sanitize, and keep shelves stocked to meet the needs of all Iowans.