Governor notes work of Judicial Branch, Department of Education and everyday Iowans during crisis

Governor Kim Reynolds speaks at the Iowa Capitol. Photo by John Pemble/Iowa Public Radio

With 10 days having elapsed since the first Public Health Emergency Declaration in Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds welcomed Chief Justice Susan Christensen to her daily press conference on COVID-19, who joined remotely to highlight the steps Iowa’s Judicial Branch has taken to sure essential services remain in place during the crisis.

“I want you to know Iowa’s judicial branch is open for emergencies and essential cases. Every day, even now, there are judges, clerks, court reporters, court administration and other branch employees working in new and unique ways to serve Iowans,” the chief justice said.

She added they have been working closely with Iowa’s Department of Human Services to ensure the safety and welfare of children, and to provide their families with the support and assistance they need to maintain vital connections, and also that it has been working with the Department of Corrections and law enforcement services across the state to implement measures to minimize the harm inflicted by COVID-19 on the incarcerated population, as well as the staff who work in those facilities.

Finally, it has also worked with county boards of supervisors across the state to ensure  courthouses remain open to the fullest extent possible, and advised anyone needing in person-access to a county courthouse to call ahead to phone numbers posted on most courthouse doors and also available on the judicial branch’s website.

“Access to justice may look a little different right now, and it may require a bit more patience, but it will not succumb to COVID-19,” she said.

The governor also welcomed the recently appointed Iowa Department of Education Director Dr. Ann Leboto update on steps being taken to support schools, community colleges and families.

She highlighted the department had issued guidance on standardized testing, high school graduation, conducting school board meetings and paying teachers while schools remain closed. Additionally, it has helped organize “grab-and-go” meals for students, stood up emergency childcare centers, and found “creative ways to connect with students, and build an online bank of resources for families as they manage day-to-day life without school.”

“Even though schools are not required to offer learning opportunities while they are closed, they are certainly able and encouraged to do so as they consider the needs of the families and the learners they serve.,” she said.

As Gov. Reynolds noted the end of the week, she said she was inspired that even in uncertain times, Iowans can count on each other, and highlighted several stories from across the state, including NSK in Clarinda, which is providing bearings to Ford Motor Company in its efforts to retool to make respirators; the Iowa Motor Truck Association and Iowa restaurants that are providing free lunches for truck drivers at DOT weigh stations; and Premier, which is picking up the tab once a week for its employees when they order carry out, drive-thru or delivery for lunch to support local restaurants in its communities.

“Iowans have a can-do spirit that will make a difference in these very challenging times.,” she said.

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has been notified of 56 additional positive cases of Iowans with COVID-19, for a total of 235 positive cases. There have been a total of 3,740 negative tests to date, which includes testing reported by the State Hygienic Lab and other labs.

According to IDPH, two Iowans with COVID-19 passed away last night, one elderly adult (81+ years) from Poweshiek County and one older adult (61-80 years) from Allamakee County. This brings the total COVID-19 deaths in Iowa to three.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families at this time,” Gov. Reynolds said during her daily COVID-19 press conference.

According to IDPH, the locations and age ranges of the 56 individuals include:

  • Benton County,  1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)
  • Black Hawk County, 2 middle-age adults (41-60 years)
  • Butler County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Cedar County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)
  • Cerro Gordo County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Clinton County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)
  • Dallas County,  1 adult (18-40 years), 1 elderly adult (81+)
  • Dickinson County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Dubuque County, 2 middle-age adults (41-60 years)
  • Hardin County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)
  • Harrison County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years), 3 older adults (61-80 years)
  • Henry County, 1 elderly adult (81+)
  • Iowa County, 1 adult (18-40 years)
  • Johnson County, 2 adults (18-40 years),  5 middle-age (41-60 years), 2 older adults (61-80 years)
  • Linn County, 3 adults (18-40 years), 7 older adults (61-80 years)
  • Mahaska County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)
  • Monona County, 1 elderly adult (81+)
  • Marshall County, 1 adult (18-40 years)
  • Montgomery County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)
  • Muscatine County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)
  • Page County, 1 older (61-80 years)
  • Polk County,  1 adult (18-40 years), 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years), 2 older adults (61-80 years)
  • Tama County, 1 elderly adult (81+)
  • Washington County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 2 older adults (61-80 years)
  • Webster County, 1 adult (18-40 years)
  • Winneshiek County, 1 adult (18-40 years)
  • Woodbury County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Wright County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)

A status report of monitoring and testing of COVID19 in Iowa is provided by IDPH and can be found here. In addition, a public hotline has been established for Iowans with questions about COVID-19. The line is available 24/7 by calling 2-1-1 or 1-800-244-7431.

The state of Iowa has started sharing the number of negative tests conducted at outside labs, and is providing additional information on the conditions of those infected with COVID-19.

Thursday, Gov. Reynolds signed a new proclamation continuing the State Public Health Emergency Declaration, suspending elective and nonessential medical and dental procedures, extending and expanding retail business closures, ordering health care facilities and nursing homes to engage in advanced health care screenings, and removing additional legal barriers to ensure a continued strong response to this disaster.

The state of public health disaster emergency shall expire on April 16, 2020, at 11:59 p.m., unless sooner terminated or extended by the governor.

Read the full text of the proclamation below or online here:

This story originally appeared on the Voice of Muscatine. Read More local stories here.

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