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COVID-19

COVID-19 RESOURCES

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to impact our communities, the Iowa Department of Human Rights remains committed to helping vulnerable Iowans who are facing greater challenges during this uncertain time.  Our staff is working remotely, but we are still here to serve our communities and our partners.  We can be reached at 1-800-351-4659 or 515-242-5655, or through the Contact Us Form.  

Information is rapidly changing, and we want to help you be preparedBelow are some information and resources to help Iowans stay informed to protect themselves and their families and get the help they need.  Please visit the websites, call, and follow social media outlets to stay up to date.  This page will be updated regularly, so please check back often. This information is to educate and inform Iowans and does not constitute legal advice. 

Where can I get reliable health information on the coronavirus?

The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state, and local health agencies provide important information to help prepare for and protect against the coronavirus.  Public health officials have issued guidelines to limit the spread of the coronavirus:  stay home if you're sick, wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds, use hand sanitizer if a sink is not available, disinfect surface areas, practice social distancing, and stay in touch with your doctor.  

Is there information in languages other than English?

Resources are available in print, video, captioned, and translated materials.  Topics include health and safety, emergency preparedness, and travel, among others.  Please visit our Language Access page as more resources are added. 

Where can I call with questions about the coronavirus? 

  • Iowans may call the coronavirus hotline by dialing 2-1-1 or 1-800-244-7431 to speak with someone 24/7.  
  • For deaf and hard-of-hearing Iowans, dial 7-1-1 first for the Telecommunications Relay Service to reach the 2-1-1 hotline.
  • Multilingual Hotline COVID-19 1-877-558-2609 M-F 8:30 am - 5:30 pm; native language voicemail 24/7.  Call and select the language from the menu to be connected to an operator and interpreter or to leave a message. This hotline was launched by Refugee Alliance of Central Iowa and Lutheran Services in Iowa in partnership with 2-1-1, the Iowa Department of Public Health and Polk County Health Department. (updated 4/10/20)
  • Spanish Help Line  515-344-3936

What special considerations are there for underserved populations?

Some populations are more at risk for coronavirus or impacts of social distancing.  These communities include persons with disabilities, caregivers, elderly, youth, and households with mixed or undocumented status.  The Iowa Department of Public Health has compiled some resources and information for people facing additional risk. 

Where can I get help if I can’t pay my utility bill?

  • The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps individuals and families meet the partial cost of home heating through a one-time payment made directly to the utility or heating vendor. The Department of Human Rights administers this program through its network of local community action agencies.  Applications are being accepted through June 30, 2020.  If you are facing disconnection or need assistance with your home energy bill, contact your local community action agency for eligibility guidelines.  
  • Your local community action has other types of help available such as food and clothing pantries, emergency assistance, and other services.  
  • You may also contact your utility company to discuss a payment plan if you are unable to pay your bills.
  • Iowa Residential Utility Disruption Program will provide eligible households with up to $2,000 towards electric, natural gas and water bills if they are at risk of disconnection due to an inability to pay due to a COVID-19 related loss of income. The last day to apply is November 20, 2020.  

Can I be evicted if I can't pay my rent? 

The federal CARES Act provides extra protection for people who live in "covered properties". A covered property is a property with some connection to the federal government. It would include you if you receive rental assistance through Section 8 or a USDA voucher.  It would also include you if you live in a property that is financed by a mortgage loan that is guaranteed by the federal government (this could be  FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac).  There are estimates that as much as 90% of all rental properties are "covered properties".  This Act:  
  • Prevents new eviction filings for unpaid rent until July 25, 2020. The CARES Act does not affect evictions that were on file before March 27, 2020, and does not affect evictions that are filed for reasons other than unpaid rent.
  • Prevents charging of late fees or anything like a late fee for unpaid rent.

Once the moratorium is over, tenants cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent until their landlord gives them a 30 day notice - not the usual 3 day notice generally in force in Iowa. It is important to remember that you will eventually have to pay all of the rent that is owed, and that you have a plan in place for that time.  For more information about protections for renters, for help understanding if you are covered, and for access to legal assistance and advice if you need it, you can visit the Iowa Legal Aid website by clicking here.  

Where can I get assistance if I am facing eviction or foreclosure?  (May 29, 2020) (updated 7/31/20)

The COVID-19 Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Program provides short-term relief to income-eligible renters and homeowners who are at risk of eviction or foreclosure due to a documented COVID-19 related loss of income.  The program is administered by the Iowa Finance Authority.  To apply and for more information on eligibility, visit their website.

Where can I go for legal advice?  

Iowa Legal Aid, in partnership with the Iowa State Bar Association and Polk County Bar Association's Volunteer Lawyers Project, has a hotline dedicated to answer questions related to coronavirus such as evictions, unemployment, protective orders, and access to courts. If you are experiencing legal problems due to the pandemic, call the hotline below and leave a voicemail.  A representative will contact you for additional information and connect you to an attorney.  Please visit Iowa Legal Aid's website for additional topics and guidance.    

I have been laid off from work.  How do I file for unemployment? (Updated April 6, 2020)

If you are laid off due to COVID-19 or have to stay home to self-isolate, care for family members or due to illness related to COVID-19, you can receive unemployment benefits, provided you meet all other eligibility requirements.  Work search requirements will be waived.  More specific explanation of benefit eligibility can be found on the Iowa Workforce Development's Unemployment Insurance Claimant Handbook.  Claimants can expect to receive payment within 7-10 days after the claim is filed.  Under the federal CARES Act, individuals who are already eligible for unemployment benefits, will receive $600 per week, in addition to their regular unemployment benefits. The first week a claimant can be compensated on this benefit is the week beginning March 29, 2020, and the last week is the week ending July 25, 2020. 

I don't have health insurance.  What help is available?  (6/8/20) (updated 7/31/20)

  • Iowa Department of Human Services - Iowans who do not have health coverage and wish to be tested for COVID-19 may complete an application for COVID-19 Testing Coverage.  Uninsured Iowans may also apply for full medical benefits to cover services other than testing.
  •  TeleMobile Clinic Website   The University of Iowa Telemobile Clinic offers free telemedicine appointments for patients who are uninsured.  The Telemobile Clinic can help with chronic diseases and medications, acute minor medical illnesses, mental health, and signing up for insurance.   Text or call 319-535-2684;  Telemobile Clinic, Multilingual Videos
     
  • Primary Health Care (PHC) Respiratory Clinic, 2401 SE 14th St., Des Moines, Iowa. Monday-Friday 8:00-5:00.  Call 515-248-1400
     
  • Broadlawns Medical Center -  Symptomatic patients may go to Broadlawns Urgent Care at the hospital.  1801 Hickman Rd., Des Moines, Iowa.  Monday-Friday, 8 am -8 pm, Saturday 9 am - 3 pm. 

How do I report my experience in racism or discrimination?

How can I tell if information is a scam, rumor, or incorrect?

It is important to obtain information from trusted resources like the CDC, state, and local government.  The Iowa Department of Public Health is the leading public health agency in Iowa.  Call the official sources to verify information.  Unfortunately, scammers are taking advantage of the coronavirus crisis.  Watch out for fake tests, cures, price gouging, insurance fraud, and requests (in-person or otherwise) for money and personal information.  At this time, there are no cures, home tests, vaccines, drugs, or products to treat or prevent the virus, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  Price gouging is when prices for needed goods or services are substantially raised, and it is illegal.  Beware of emails that claim to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or experts; don't click on links from sources you don't know.  Do your homework when it comes to charities and donations.  

Who can I talk to when I’m feeling overwhelmed and stressed?

It is important to maintain your well-being during stressful times.  There are things you can do to support yourself such as staying healthy, eating healthy, getting plenty of sleep, connecting with others, and taking breaks.  The Iowa Department of Public Health and Department of Human Services have resources on coping with stressful situations.   

Where can I find food assistance?  (updated 4/13/20)

The State of Iowa and community organizations have programs to provide food assistance based on your situation.  

Additional Resources

For more state agencies and resources, please visit https://coronavirus.iowa.gov.

Office of the Governor of Iowa  (press releases, proclamations)

Iowa Department on Aging (resources, tools, and support for seniors)

Iowa Attorney General's Office (consumer protection, crimes, victim assistance, legal assistance)

Iowa Economic Development Authority  (business guidance)

Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) (family services, assistance programs, Medicaid)

Iowa DHS Childcare Availability Map (availability of childcare providers)

Iowa Legal Aid- Information available in Spanish (evictions, foreclosures, civil cases, housing, domestic violence, employment issues)

Iowa Department of Revenue (taxes)

Iowa Workforce Development (unemployment benefits)