New COVID cases, Reynolds announces expansion of state small business grant program

With Easter approaching, Gov. Kim Reynolds was asked about the two guidelines of “staying home” and “not gathering in groups of more than 10 people” and whether or not the two are contradictory of each other and some people may think it’s OK to have a few people over for Easter dinner.

“I wouldn’t do that,” Reynolds said during her Wednesday news conference. “We’re going to get together this Sunday for Easter via Zoom.”

Iowa saw 97 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday according to the Iowa Department of Public Health, bringing the overall total to 1,145.

There was one additional death in Linn County bringing the state total to 27 deaths. The individual was identified as an elder adult (81+ years.)

Locally, Washington County saw five new cases for a total of 62 and Henry County had two new cases for a total of 15. Jefferson County had no new confirmed cases and still has a total of three. Statewide, there also has been 12,821 negative tests overall.

During the news conference, Reynolds announced that she is expanding a state small business grant program from $4 million to $24 million. She said the Iowa Workforce Development has already had around 14,000 Small Business Relief Program grant appliciaions requesting $148M in assistance.

“There is absolutely no playbook for the situation we are in right now,” Reynolds said.

Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham said the state sent out 503 grants to businesses totaling over $10 million on Tuesday night. She said a couple additional rounds of funding is expected to go out to businesses this week totaling $24 million. The funds are being distributed from Iowa’s economic emergency fund and the EDA budget.

“To our small business owners: we heard you,” Durham said. “We heard every one of your stories about your family’s businesses to your new venture.”

Durham added that many of the small businesses that received grants were restaurants as well as other businesses that were most affected by the first wave of business closures ordered by Reynolds.

Reynolds added that she expects to hear more details next week at the federal level after it has been indicated that Iowa will receive a $1.2 billion block grant as part of the overall $2.2 trillion CARES Act.

Sarah Reisetter, the deputy director of the IDPH said the PPE shortages “are real,” but also said she feels “pretty good” about the number of overall beds and ventilators that are available around the state.

Washington, Henry and Jefferson Counties are all located in RMCC Region 5, along with Cedar, Clinton, Des Moines, Iowa, Jackson, Johnson, Lee, Keokuk, Louisa, Muscatine, Scott, Van Buren and Wapello Counties.

In the region, there are 94 total ICU beds available and 181 ventilators available. Overall, there are 713 inpatient beds available.