Updates & Resources on Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Table of Contents


A Note from Congresswoman Axne

With ‘community spread’ cases now being documented in Iowa, 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.


 

Symptoms

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and a loss of taste or smell.


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: 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • 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.

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.

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has requested Iowans returning from a country where COVID-19 is spreading to voluntarily self-isolate for 14 days following their return. Areas in this travel notice currently include:

  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • Iran
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • South Korea

Individuals returning from affected areas are asked to stay home and monitor their symptoms for 14 days and if they become ill and need to seek medical care, they should call ahead to their doctor’s office and inform them of their recent travel.


Travel Warnings 

On Thursday, March 19th, the U.S. State Department raised its travel advisory for all international travel to Level 4, the most serious category, warning all American to not travel internationally and advising all Americans who are abroad to return to the United States or make preparations to shelter in place to reduce the chance of contracting COVID-19.

If you are currently traveling, I encourage you to enroll in the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive important messages, alerts, updates, and travel advisories while you are there.


Public Events

CDC recommends that organizers cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 10 people or more throughout the U.S. The CDC also is encouraging all events, regardless of size, implement social distancing and ensure they take steps to provide hygiene stations and protect vulnerable populations.

I've discontinued my town halls and other large public events, and would encourage others to take these recommendations by CDC seriously.

More Information on Mass Gatherings


Frequently Asked Questions on Direct Payments to Iowans in the CARES Act

Why is Congress proposing to pay rebates to individuals? 

The public health and economic consequences of COVID-19 are significant. These rebates help Americans afford what they need during this public health crisis, as many are experiencing a significant cash crunch.

When will the rebates be distributed?

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is delivering rebates in the form of advance payments. For people who filed a federal income tax return in 2018 or 2019, payment processing will be based on payment or address information already on file with the IRS. Electronic distributions will be automatic to an account the payee authorized January 1, 2018 or later, and have begun reaching payees accounts. If you want to check the status of your payment, visit the IRS portal for direct payments: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments

How large are the rebates?

The amount of the rebate depends on family size. The payment is $1,200 for each adult individual ($2,400 for joint filers), and $500 per qualifying child under age 17. The advance payment of rebates is reduced by $5 for every $100 of income to the extent a taxpayer’s income exceeds $150,000 for a joint filer, $112,500 for a head of household filer, and $75,000 for anyone else (including single filers).

Do rebates need to be repaid?

No, rebates do not need to be repaid. If an individual experienced an income loss in 2020 or if they have an increase in family size, they may be able to claim an additional credit of the difference when the individual files their 2020 tax federal income tax return in 2021.

Many individuals don't need to file a tax return. Are non-filers eligible for rebates?

Yes. There is no earned income requirement to be eligible for a rebate, but non-filers may need to take additional steps to receive their rebates. The Social Security Administration will share information for Social Security (Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance) beneficiaries with IRS to help ensure these beneficiaries receive a payment.

If I'm a college student, am I eligible for a rebate?

If you are still claimed as a dependent on the tax return of your parent, guardian, or another provider, you are not eligible for a rebate. If you file your own taxes and you are not claimed as a dependent, you will be eligible under the regular criteria.

How will a person who has recently moved access rebates? 

The IRS will determine payment delivery systems for everyone entitled to rebates. More information will be posted here.

Will the rebates affect my eligibility for federal income-targeted programs?

No, the rebate is considered a tax refund and is not counted towards eligibility for federal programs.

What identification requirements apply to receive rebates?

Taxpayers must have Social Security Numbers for themselves and their qualifying children in order to receive rebates.


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.


Tax Deadlines

In response to the coronavirus crisis, the IRS has announced changes to the 2020 tax season. The deadline for filing your taxes and payment any liabilities is now July 15, 2020. Taxpayers are still encouraged to file early in order to get refunds in a timely manner. The State of Iowa has also extended 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.


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.