Coronaviruses are a type of virus. There are many different kinds, and some cause disease. A newly identified type has caused a recent outbreak of respiratory illness now called COVID-19 that started in China.

How is it spread? What is community spread?

Recent information indicates COVID-19 may be passed from person to person. Community spread is being seen, also. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in a particular area, including some people who are not sure how or where they became infected. COVID-19 has been detected in people throughout China and in over 100 other countries, including the United States.

How can I get tested for the coronavirus?

• To get tested, call your primary doctor. Currently, a doctor does not have to get approval from the State Hygienic Lab to test a patient for COVID-19 if they meet the CDC criteria found here:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/hcp/clinical-criteria.html

How do I find out if my insurance will cover testing and treatment related to COVID-19?

Four of the major health insurance carriers in Iowa have all committed to waive cost-sharing and copayments for testing of COVID-19. Self-funded plans may differ in coverage.

The Iowa Farm Bureau Health Plan has also agreed to waive cost sharing related to testing.

Will Medicare cover testing and treatment?

Medicare covers the lab tests for COVID-19 with no out-of-pocket costs when the test is ordered by your doctor or other health care provider. Medicare also covers all medically necessary hospitalizations. This includes if you’re diagnosed with COVID-19 and might otherwise have been discharged from the hospital after an inpatient stay, but you need to stay in the hospital under quarantine.

While there is currently no vaccine for COVID-19, if one becomes available, it will be covered by all Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Part D).

If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you have access to these same benefits. Medicare allows these plans to waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 lab tests. Many plans offer additional telehealth benefits beyond the ones described below. Check with your plan about your coverage and costs.

Medicare also covers “virtual check-ins” (also known as telemedicine), so you can connect with your doctor by phone or video or an online patient portal to see if you need to go in for a face-to-face visit. The Division encourages consumers to utilize telemedicine to seek treatment.

To stay informed about Medicare coverage and coronavirus, along with tips to keep yourself safe, visit medicare.gov

Should I go to my doctor’s office if I get sick?

If you are feeling sick, make sure you call your doctor’s office before going in. Tell them your symptoms, and they will give you directions on whether or not to come in.

What are the symptoms of the coronavirus?

• Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.

• Cough.

• Fever.

• Shortness of breath.

If I lost my job due to the coronavirus, how can I get help?

Iowans displaced from work because of COVID-19 may be eligible for unemployment benefits after changes were made to help those affected by the outbreak. If you are laid off due to COVID-19 or have to stay home to self-isolate, care for family members or due to illness related to COVID-19, you can apply for unemployment benefits.

Normal work search requirements under unemployment insurance are waived for those affected; if displaced you will not be required to try and interview or find work while the outbreak is ongoing. If an individual does find work, they will still receive benefits if it pays less than their previous employment. In those cases, Iowa Workforce Development will subtract the money you’ve earned from your expected benefit amount and send you the remaining benefit.

Those eligible will receive their first check in 7-10 days. To apply visit

https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/file-claim-unemployment-insurance-benefits

What resources are available since my business closed due to coronavirus?

• Loans for small businesses and nonprofits are available through the Small Business Administration beginning hopefully on Friday, https://www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance/coronavirus-covid-19

• The Iowa Economic Development Authority is compiling resources for small businesses all on one website, www.iowabusinessrecovery.com

Do I still have to pay my employees if my business closed?

• If businesses are able to continue to pay staff they should do so.

• If the business is requiring an employee work from home the employee must be paid.

• If a business cannot afford to pay employees then the employees can file for unemployment (see below).

What resources are available for my employees displaced because of coronavirus?

• Employees who have had their hours reduced or cut altogether without pay can file for unemployment:

https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/updates-and-resources-about-covid-19

• To file a claim: https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/file-claim-unemployment-insurance-benefits

Since my restaurant is closed to the public, can I still provide meals by drive-up, carry-out, or delivery?

• Yes, as of right now restaurants can continue to make meals for carry-out, drive-through, or delivery.

Can my local brewery still sell beer by carry-out or delivery?

Native brewers cannot sell directly to them from their manufacturing location. If a native brewer has a retail permit to operate a taproom, as a retailer it can deliver any beer sold in the original sealed container to a customer. A growler could be considered an original container if it is filled at the manufacturing location.

Beer that is poured into a growler at a taproom cannot be delivered because it is not in the original packaging.

Is there a moratorium on disconnecting utilities?

The Iowa Utilities Board issued an emergency order on March 13 directing all electric and natural gas utilities to cease residential service disconnection because of nonpayment until May 1. The link to the emergency order and press release can be found here: https://iub.iowa.gov/press-release/2020-03-13/iub-emergency-order-extends-utility-winter-moratorium

The order is due to the Governor’s statewide disaster proclamation of public health emergency from COVID-19. The LIHEAP application date was not extended in this order and is still April 1, 2020.

Mary Wolfe, D-Clinton, represents District 98 in the Iowa House of Representatives.