COVID- 19: the latest

COVID- 19: the latest
April 23, 2020
Grow Greene giving $35K for local COVID-19 relief

Staff report

After distributing more than $1 million in grants on April 7, the Grow Greene County Gaming Corp. announced Saturday it will be injecting an additional $35,000 into the community to assist Greene County residents during COVID-19.

The Grow Greene County board identified four areas to support:  education/families; food/essentials; public health; and Greene County small businesses.

Special signage for Class of 2020 graduates, school supplies and other activities will be funded by Grow Greene.

The Greene County and Paton-Churdan school districts have been supporting students and families since school was closed at the end of spring break.

A donation to the Food Bank of Iowa will be earmarked for the local entities that use those services. New Opportunities will receive a donation to assist families with utility payments.

Greene County Public Health will receive financial support for a mobile shed and other personal protective equipment  (PPE).

A project to support Greene County-owned small businesses that have been mandated to close or have limited hours is being planned and will be announced soon in collaboration with the Greene County Development Corp., the Jefferson Area Chamber of Commerce and Jefferson Matters: Main Street.

• As of Monday, nearly 700 handmade masks had been donated to the Greene County Medical Center, and the hospital is still welcoming donations.

The medical center on Monday issued a new call for handmade gowns. The hospital is now seeking community members to sew gowns to be used as PPE.

In response to a PPE shortage order issued April 9 by the Iowa Department of Public Health, the medical center is doing what is necessary to preserve existing PPE. PPE that can be donated will help protect staff who have been directed to wear protective equipment.

Those who would like to make PPE gowns can download instructions and a pattern from

Finished gowns can be dropped off at the Materials Management delivery door at the rear of the medical center between the hours of 1 and 3 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Donors will have the option to make their donation tax-deductible.

• Gov. Kim Reynolds on Tuesday launched the Test Iowa Initiative to expand testing capacity to limit spread of COVID-19.

Iowa is partnering with Nomi Health and its subsidiary, DOMO, which launched a similar initiative in the state of Utah.

Reynolds encouraged Iowans to go to to complete a health assessment. The information will help Iowans assess their eligibility for testing.

• Cases of COVID-19 surged in Iowa over the past weekend, with state health officials reporting 570 additional positive cases.

Of the 389 positive cases announced Sunday, 67 percent (261 cases) were tied to testing of meat processing facilities owned by Tyson and National Beef.

In announcing 257 additional positive cases on Monday, the state reported that 27 of them were attributed to Tyson employees and 19 to National Beef.

Tuesday brought word of 482 new positive cases in Iowa, including 100 among Tyson employees and 57 at National Beef.

COVID-related plant disruptions have caused a backup of hogs on farms, according to the National Pork Producers Council.

That, in turn, is causing hog values to plunge and is creating an animal welfare challenge for pig farmers, the council reported.

Even before the plant disruptions, a new study by the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University projected that economic impacts of COVID-19 will mean steep losses for Iowa agriculture, including more than $2 billion each for the hog and ethanol sectors, if the disease and social distancing policies were to hold throughout the year.

• Reynolds on Friday extended the closure of Iowa schools through the rest of the school year.

The governor also signed an order that waives government, CPR and financial literacy for this year’s high school seniors. Locally, the school board plans to waive speech as a requirement, enabling Greene County seniors who were on track to graduate at the beginning of the third trimester to graduate.

Local seniors will also be contacted directly about specific scholarships they have been awarded. The district hopes to have some type of commencement exercise in June, Superintendent Tim Christensen reported.

Greene County High School’s junior-senior prom has been rescheduled to June 26 at Wild Rose.

Greene County students in grades PK-11 are encouraged to continue participating in weekly voluntary learning activities developed by district teachers.

The school district has gone from serving 274 meals on the first day of its grab-and-go sack lunch program to more than 600 as of April 16, Christensen said.

The district is now limiting pick up of meals to a maximum of two families per vehicle. Individual day cares will be required to pick up their own meals.

The district will distribute a “take and bake” meal the next two Fridays. This Friday’s meal will be pizza. Baking instructions will be included with the meal.

• The Relay for Life of Greene County has been rescheduled to 5 to 9 p.m. Aug. 7 at the Greene County Community Center.

The event was originally scheduled for April 24, but postponed because of COVID-19.

This year’s theme is “We Are HOPE!”

Although moved from Saturday to a Friday evening, the Relay will be very similar to past Relays, according to organizers, with a community barbecue, a Survivor Walk and a reception honoring cancer survivors and their caregivers, laps around the walking track, a silent auction and plenty of camaraderie.

The Relay for Life of Greene County will get a jumpstart on fundraising May 15 with a Facebook Live event. There will be team challenges, information from the American Cancer Society and more. All are welcome to participate in the event.

In the weeks since COVID-19 mitigation efforts began, more than 700 Relays have been canceled, seriously impacting American Cancer Society finances.

Watch the Relay for Life of Greene County Facebook page for more information about  the event.

• The Iowa Bankers Association estimates that Paycheck Protection Program loans approved by Iowa banks have saved about 325,000 small business jobs during the COVID-19 crisis, with $168,154 the average size of a loan in Iowa.

In little more than a week, Iowa banks helped approve nearly $3.75 billion in loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s PPP for 22,295 Iowa small businesses. Banks make up 95 percent of Iowa’s SBA lenders. The program was launched to help companies weather the financial hardships of the pandemic.

However, the program is under fire for running out of money after less than two weeks, in part because money ended up in the hands of large companies.

Shake Shack — a publicly traded, New York-based burger chain that reported first-quarter revenue of $143 million — said it would return the $10 million federal loan it received, NPR reported Monday. The loans are forgiven if borrowers spend most of the funds on payroll and retaining employees.

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