Updates & Resources on Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Table of Contents


A Note from Congresswoman Axne

It is imperative to ensure that all Iowans, regardless of travel history or pre-existing condition, are taking the threat of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) seriously.

I’m encouraging all of my constituents and everyone in Iowa to take the necessary precautions to limit their risk by avoiding large gatherings, practicing good community hygiene, and limiting public interactions if you’re feeling sick.

I also want to make sure you have the best available information to protect and care for yourself and your loved ones as we learn more about COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) considers the coronavirus to be a serious public health threat. It is important that you are aware of the disease and the efforts necessary to prevent its spread.

Information on these and other cases in Iowa will be placed on the website of the Iowa Department of Public Health and will be updated here as my office and the public receive new updates.


Information on COVID-19 Vaccinations

What’s the status of COVID-19 vaccines in Iowa?

There are now three vaccines that have been approved by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)to help prevent the contraction of COVID-19 and can reduce the risk of becoming seriously ill – the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the Moderna vaccine, an the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. In December2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued emergency use authorizations for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines that are now in use. Both vaccines are administered in two doses: Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses are administered at least 21 days apart; Moderna vaccine doses are administered at least 28 days apart. In addition, on February 27th theFDA announced an emergency use authorization for a third COVID-19 vaccine produced byJohnson & Johnson that is now in use. This highly effective vaccine requires only one shot, can protect against asymptomatic infection, and can be stored using standard refrigeration temperatures– making it an ideal vaccine for some of our more rural and hard-to-reach areas here in Iowa.

The federal government is working to purchase, transport and distribute vaccines as quickly as possible to every state, with the goal of ending this pandemic. Each state has been and will continue to be allocated the COVID-19 vaccines using guidance provided by the CDC, which also recommends that vaccinations should be provided first to healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities. The state of Iowa is partnering with pharmacies and local public health authorities across the state as part of its effort to effectively distribute vaccines.

All three vaccines were shown in their clinical trials to be 100% effective at preventing death and severe illness from COVID-19. With over a million already vaccinated in Iowa, these vaccines are already making a difference – as of March 2021, 126.5 million vaccines have been administered in the United States and we are making real progress towards meeting President Biden's goal of having these vaccines available to all adults by May.

Who can get a vaccine?

Iowans currently eligible for the vaccine include healthcare workers, residents and staff at long-term care facilities, first responders, teachers and other school employees, child care workers, essential employees in food, agriculture, distribution, and manufacturing industries, individuals with disabilities in a home setting, all adults over age 65, and individuals under 65 with medical conditions that would increase risk of a severe illness. 

Individuals ages 16-65 that are not currently eligible are currently estimated to be eligible for a vaccine in Iowa in April 2021.

How can you sign up?

Each of Iowa’s 99 county public health departments is handling the vaccine distribution differently. To sign up to receive the vaccine, or for more information about resources where you live, please visit your county’s public health website and/or find its contact information below:

  1. Polk County; 515-286-3798
  2. Dallas County; 515-993-3750
  3. Pottawattamie County; 712-242-1155
  4. Adair County; 641-743-6173
  5. Adams County; 641-322-6283
  6. Cass County; 712-243-7552
  7. Fremont County;712-374-2685
  8. Guthrie County; 641-747-3972
  9. Mills County; 712-527-9699
  10. Madison County; 515-462-9051
  11. Montgomery County; 712-623-4893
  12. Page County; 712-850-1212
  13. Ringgold County; 641-464-0691
  14. Taylor County; 712-523-3405
  15. Union County; 641-782-3545
  16. Warren County; 515-961-1074

Additionally, certain CVS, Walgreens, and Hy-Vee locations also have appointments available for those who are eligible.

You may also need to bring: A photo ID and proof of residency. (Note: Phase 1A Critical and Health Care Workers may also need to show photo ID and proof of employment).

Is there a vaccine shortage?

Current estimates suggest that there will be enough vaccines for every adult in America by the end of May 2021 and every American may be eligible to receive the vaccine byMay 1. As of March 2021, 156 million vaccines have been distributed and the numbers will keep on growing with more vaccines getting approved and more vaccines getting distributed under President Biden's vaccination rollout plan.

Is the vaccine safe?

Yes. Vaccines go through a rigorous process of development and testing, including an exploratory stage, pre-clinical stage, clinical development, and regulatory review and approval. COVID-19 is a new version of coronavirus, the same type of virus that led to outbreaks of acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome(MERS). Because this is a new version of a known virus, scientists and researchers had ahead start in developing a vaccine for COVID-19. 

It is common to experience some side effects after receiving your vaccination, including fatigue, headache, muscle ache, or even fever, nausea, and chills. This may affect your ability to do daily activities for a couple days, but these symptoms are normal signs that the vaccine is working and your body is building protection against COVID-19.

Who can I talk to if I have more questions about COVID-19 and/or vaccines?

If you have general questions about the vaccine, please call the Iowa Department of Public Health Hotline by dialing 2-1-1. Resource specialists are available 24 hours a day to answer basic questions. However, always check with your healthcare provider first regarding questions specific to your personal health situation.

New information about COVID-19 vaccinations and related public health guidance is always forthcoming, and some of the details above may change. Our office will provide you with the most up-to-date information as it becomes available.


Symptoms

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms.

When to seek emergency medical attention

Look for emergency warning signs* for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone

*This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility: Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.

The Coronavirus Self-Checker is a CDC online, mobile-friendly tool that asks a series of questions, and based on the user’s responses, provides recommended actions and resources. Find the Self-Checker by clicking here.

Prevention 

The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. There are simple everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including: 

Wash your hands often

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • It’s especially important to wash:
    • Before eating or preparing food
    • Before touching your face
    • After using the restroom
    • After leaving a public place
    • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
    • After handling your cloth face covering
    • After changing a diaper
    • After caring for someone sick
    • After touching animals or pets
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact

  • Inside your home: Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • If possible, maintain 6 feet between the person who is sick and other household members.
  • Outside your home: Put 6 feet of distance between yourself and people who don’t live in your household.
    • Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread virus.
    • Stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people.
    • Keeping distance from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.

Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others

  • You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
  • The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
  • Everyone should wear a cloth face cover in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
    • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
  • Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.

Cover coughs and sneezes

  • Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow and do not spit.
  • Throw used tissues in the trash.
  • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Clean and disinfect

  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • If surfaces are dirty, clean them. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
  • Then, use a household disinfectant. Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work.

Monitor Your Health Daily

  • Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19.
    • Especially important if you are running essential errands, going into the office or workplace, and in settings where it may be difficult to keep a physical distance of 6 feet.
  • Take your temperature if symptoms develop.
    • Don’t take your temperature within 30 minutes of exercising or after taking medications that could lower your temperature, like acetaminophen.
  • Follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop.

If you are sick, to keep from spreading respiratory illness to others, you should:

  • Stay home except to get medical care 
  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor
  • Wear a facemask
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Avoid sharing personal household items
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

Details on the Third Round of Economic Impact Payments

The Treasury Department is now sending the Third Economic Impact Payments in accordance with the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, signed into law on March 11, 2021.

Those eligible will automatically receive an Economic Impact Payment of up to $1,400 for individuals or $2,800 for married couples, plus $1,400 for each dependent.

Families will get a payment for all their dependents claimed on a tax return, not just their qualifying children under 17.

Normally, a taxpayer will qualify for the full amount if they have an adjusted gross income of up to $75,000 for singles and married persons filing a separate return, up to $112,500 for heads of household and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns and surviving spouses. Payment amounts are reduced for filers with incomes above those levels.

The third round of Economic Impact Payments will be based on the taxpayer's latest processed tax return from either 2020 or 2019. This includes anyone who successfully registered online at IRS.gov using the agency's Non-Filers tool last year, or alternatively, submitted a special simplified tax return to the IRS. If the IRS has received and processed a taxpayer's 2020 return, the agency will instead make the calculation based on that return.

You can check when and how your payment was sent with the Get My Payment tool.

The IRS will automatically send direct payments to people who didn't file a return but receive Social Security retirement, survivor or disability benefits (SSDI), Railroad Retirement benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Veterans Affairs benefits. This is similar to the first and second rounds of Economic Impact Payments, often referred to as EIP1 and EIP2.

For those who received EIP1 or EIP2 but don't receive a payment via direct deposit, they will generally receive a check or, in some instances, a prepaid debit card (referred to as an "EIP Card). A payment will not be added to an existing EIP card mailed for the first or second round of stimulus payments.

Under the new law, an EIP3 cannot be offset to pay various past-due federal debts or back taxes.

Income Limits for Economic Impact Payments

The IRS reminds taxpayers that the income levels in this new round of stimulus payments have changed. This means that some people won't be eligible for the third payment even if they received a first or second Economic Impact Payment or claimed a 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit. Payments will begin to be reduced for individuals making $75,000 or above in Adjusted Gross Income ($150,000 for married filing jointly.) The reduced payments end at $80,000 for individuals ($160,000); people above these levels are ineligible for a payment. More information is available on IRS.gov.

New payments differ from earlier Economic Impact Payments

The third round of stimulus payments, those authorized by the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act, differs from the earlier payments in several respects:

  • The third stimulus payment will be larger for most people. Most families will get $1,400 per person, including all dependents claimed on their tax return. Typically, this means a single person with no dependents will get $1,400, while a family of four (married couple with two dependents) will get $5,600.
  • Unlike the first two payments, the third stimulus payment is not restricted to children under 17. Eligible families will get a payment based on all of their qualifying dependents claimed on their return, including older relatives like college students, adults with disabilities, parents and grandparents.

Didn't Get the First and Second Payments? Claim the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit.

If you didn't get the full amount of the first or second payment you were eligible for, you may be eligible to claim the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit and must file a 2020 tax return, even if you aren't required to file.

The third Economic Impact Payment will not be used to calculate the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit.


Beware of Scams Related to Coronavirus

Scammers are taking advantage of fears surrounding the Coronavirus. They’re setting up websites to sell bogus products, and using fake emails, texts, and social media posts as a ruse to take your money and get your personal information.

The emails and posts may be promoting awareness and prevention tips, and fake information about cases in your neighborhood. They also may be asking you to donate to victims, offering advice on unproven treatments, or contain malicious email attachments.

Here are some tips to help you keep the scammers at bay:

  • Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. It could download a virus onto your computer or device. Make sure the anti-malware and anti-virus software on your computer is up to date.
  • Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying that have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Ignore online offers for vaccinations. If you see ads touting prevention, treatment, or cure claims for the Coronavirus, ask yourself: if there’s been a medical breakthrough, would you be hearing about it for the first time through an ad or sales pitch?
  • Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.
  • Be alert to “investment opportunities.” The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is warning people about online promotions, including on social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly-traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure coronavirus and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result.

Want more information on the latest scams we’re seeing? Sign up for our consumer alerts. If you come across any suspicious claims, report them to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.


Further Information 

Experts have been working hard to understand this new strain of coronavirus. Because new information is coming out every day, please visit the sites below to stay up to date.

The Centers for Disease Control provides updates on the virus and safety information for the public and healthcare professionals. You can find answers to frequently asked questions about COVID-19 here.

The Iowa Department of Public Health provides updates on the disease's impact Iowa.

The State Department provides a list of travel advisories for those who are planning to fly outside of the United States.