Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds holds a news conference on COVID-19 at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, IA, on Monday, March 23, 2020.
Photo Credit: Olivia Sun/The Des Moines Register

DES MOINES, Iowa – Gov. Kim Reynolds announced the launch of a new grant program for Iowa small businesses experiencing disruption due to COVID-19.

The program would grant small businesses who employ anywhere from two to 25 people before March 17, 2020, experiencing COVID-19 disruption a grant between $5,000 to $25,000. Grants received can not be used to pay for debts incurred before March 17, 2020.

The grants are funded by $4 million transferred from the economic emergency fund. 

The state also offers small businesses who apply for the grant a deferral of sales and use or withholding taxes due and waiver of penalty and interest.

Also, businesses with fewer than 50 employees can delay their unemployment tax payments for the first quarter until July 31. 

“These three actions will provide some much-needed relief for struggling small businesses as well as some help with cash flow. I fully understand that this doesn’t make up for having your businesses closed for a period of time, or your customers staying home. But it is our hope that we can help businesses weather the storm,” Reynolds said.

“Tens of thousands of Iowa’s businesses and their employees have suddenly been launched into an extraordinary new reality. There are no maps or instruction manuals for this reality we find ourselves in, but what we can do is act swiftly and act with purpose,” Debi Durham, Director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority, said.

“This is a stop-gap to basically keep doors open because the first thing we’re dealing with is keeping as many people as employed as possible. Secondly, is liquidity. And so this is a stop-gap, very short, period of time until the resources from the federal government begin to flow,” she explained.

Reynolds also urged Iowans to follow public health recommendations.

“Again, this is the time that we need every Iowan to do their part to help mitigate and slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep special services up and running. If you do not need to leave your house to help your family or other Iowans respond to this disaster, stay home. If your job allows you to work from home, do so. If you can keep your children home with you instead of taking them to daycare, do so. If you are an employer with a workforce able to work remotely, help them work remotely. Limit your time away from home to trips for essentials like groceries, medications, and necessary supplies, send just one family member out for errands,” she encouraged.

“Now is a critical time for our state. And I am counting on every Iowan to be responsible for their own health and the health of others by doing the right thing now. So stay at home and help us save a life. We’re all in this together,” she added.

Reynolds said she is still not considering a shelter in place order and said her team watches numerous pieces of data, such as the rate of hospitalizations and length of stay in the hospital to determine what the state’s next steps should be. 

She also pointed to a 47 percent drop in traffic on secondary from a year ago as an indicator that Iowans are taking the public health recommendations and her declaration seriously.

Earlier in the day, the Iowa Department of Public Health announced 15 new cases of COVID-19 raising the number of cases to 105 in the state in 26 different counties.

The new cases are:

  • Allamakee County, one adult (18-40 years)
  • Dubuque County, one adult (18-40 years), one older adult (61-80 years)
  • Hancock County, two older adults (61-80 years)
  • Johnson County, one middle-aged adult (41-60 years), two older adults (61-80 years)
  • Linn County, one adult (18-40 years), one middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
  • Muscatine County, one middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
  • Polk County, one adult (18-40 years), one middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
  • Wapello County, one older adult (61-80 years)
  • Woodbury County, one middle-aged adult (41-60 years)

Listen to the press conference below:

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