Hey, maybe it’ll all be over by the time you read this column in June. But as I write this in early May, it’s a confusing situation. Governor Reynolds has partially reopened Iowa for business, and here on my desk is a postcard from my dentist scheduling an appointment for a checkup on May 13.
How do you get your teeth cleaned and checked while wearing a face mask? It’s hard to think of going to the dentist after so diligently sheltering in place for six weeks and following the guidance of the experts.
If you, too, are faced with decisions and eager to know what the local situation is, I’m here to share the resources that I’ve been using to monitor the situation.
Iowa Public Radio website and email newsletter. If you want a clear picture of what’s happening statewide, the best resource may be Iowa Public Radio’s website and email newsletter. They show a map of the state that indicates the number of confirmed cases and deaths in each county.
Their live blog includes updates from Governor Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Public Health and other news as it becomes available throughout the week. As I write this, they are broadcasting a press conference by Governor Reynolds. Their daily emails offer a summary of the updates on their live blog.
News Break emails (topic.newsbreak.com/covid-19.html). I’m not sure how I ran across this site, but I’ve appreciated the coronavirus-related email updates they send every day. You can sign up on their website to receive local coronavirus news. The only downside is when you click on a link in the email, it first takes you to the News Break website to show you an ad, but there you can click a link to see the whole story.
The latest email I received includes an article giving advice from Iowa Legal Aid for those who are unemployed due to the virus and who have had assets seized even though Governor Reynolds has banned Iowa banks and debt collectors from doing this. Another story tells why workers who have been recalled and who are refusing to go back to work due to safety considerations may still be eligible for unemployment. Note, though, that some items in each mailing are unrelated to the virus.
Coronavirus.iowa.gov. You can find helpful information and statistics on the official website of the Iowa Department of Public Health. I use this to track the number of cases in Jefferson County and elsewhere in the state.
Fairfield Chamber of Commerce web page. When Governor Reynolds ordered the closing of restaurants and other business while also allowing takeout orders and curbside service, I wanted to know which restaurants in Fairfield were closed until further notice and which were offering takeout.
The Chamber of Commerce helpfully created a web page that lists the status of various restaurants and business. It hasn’t always been kept up to date, but it’s really been helpful. It not only gives status but also a link to the business’s Facebook page or website and a phone number. Through a link on the Chamber’s home page, you can quickly see which restaurants are open, their menus, and the number to call to place your order.
The Chamber also has a weekly events newsletter, but with the cancellation of events, they began sending out great online resources, such as museums and art, math, and science projects for kids. They also send out ad hoc emails such as information about best practices related to reopening business and about obtaining the government’s emergency loans and grants.
In Fairfield, other good resources are the local newspaper, the Southeast Iowa Union, which I read every day. And Mayor Connie Boyer’s Facebook page includes announcements of the weekly COVID-19 online broadcast from Fairfield City Hall.
Also, you may want to check out the Jefferson County Health Center and Jefferson County Public Health Facebook pages, which offer coronavirus information and updates. For example, their Facebook pages recently gave all the details about the reopening of Fairfield’s indoor swimming pool.
Okay, maybe that’s more than you wanted to know, but if you want to stay healthy, and alive, you may find this information useful.
Find column archives at JimKarpen.com.