Iowa – Coronavirus State Actions

Governors are working closely with federal and local officials as well as private sector partners to address the threat of the novel coronavirus. This page lists select actions taken to date. It is not intended to be exhaustive but is meant to highlight key actions and resources that may inform other states and territories as they prepare for and respond to the novel coronavirus. All state actions can be viewed here, or visit Coronavirus: What You Need To Know for additional information and resources.


Iowa Department of Public Health coronavirus resource page.

  • March 10, 2020—Governor Reynolds announced in a news conference that 18 of the 22 Iowans quarantined on the Grand Princess cruise ship will be returning home on a chartered flight to Iowa. The Department of Public Health will screen the returning people before they begin their travel back to Iowa and direct people to a screening center when they arrive.  
  • March 15, 2020 – The Governor recommended Iowa schools close for four weeks.
  • March 16, 2020– The Governor announced various forms of assistance to workers and employers in the face of potential COVID-19 layoffs or furloughs.
  • March 17, 2020 – The Governor signed legislation that creates emergency measures and supplemental appropriations for key government services to combat the spread of COVID-19. Supplemental appropriations and emergency measurers include:
    • Supplemental appropriations for Medicaid ($88.98 million).
    • Supplemental appropriations other health programs ($1.8 million).
    • Supplemental appropriations for state hygienic lab ($525,000).
    • Limits some standing appropriations (non-public school transportation, instructional support, AEA funding).
    • Requires the Department of Management and the Legislative Service Agency to review FY 2020 appropriations and to make appropriations for the first two months of FY 2021.
    • Emergency appropriations from the Economic Emergency Fund of up to 10% to the DOM for purposes approved by the Governor, through August 31.
    • Authorizes the Governor to waive school instructional time requirements for schools that close due to COVID-19.
  • March 17, 2020 – The Governor issued state of public health disaster emergency. The measure closes all restaurants and bars to the public until March 31, excluding take-out and drive thru options.
  • March 18, 2020 – The Governor signed legislation that expands the roles of physician assistants in Iowa. The legislation aimed at combating COVID-19 makes changes related to the practice of a PA by allowing for full prescriptive rights, legal protections similar to other health care professions, the ability to be reimbursed by Medicaid and a range of other changes.
  • March 20, 2020 – The Governor signed an additional State Public Health Emergency Declaration, its provisions include:
    • Temporarily suspends penalties and interest related to collection of property taxes until the end of this proclamation.
    • Temporarily suspends some evictions under the Iowa Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act or the Manufactured Home Communities or Mobile Home Parks Residential Landlord and Tenant Act in certain circumstances.
    • Extends expiration deadline for a permit to carry and a permit to acquire a firearm and additional measures.
    • Permits the sale of carry-out, delivery, drive-thru alcohol for unopened bottles of alcohol for bars and restaurants and suspends some fees.
    • Permits public meetings or hearings by electronic means to improve the functions of government while maintaining social distancing practices.
    • Suspends certain regulations to ease the transportation of agricultural supplies and commodities, food, medical supplies, cleaning products, and other household goods on all highways in Iowa.
    • The proclamation also allows related state agencies to implement the state’s public health emergency plan.
  • March 20, 2020 – The Economic Development Authority announced that federally-funded Community Development Block Grant funds are available to counties for new or expanded public services in support of the state’s infectious disease response such as: job training to expand the pool of health care workers; providing additional testing, diagnosis or other services at a fixed or mobile location; providing additional equipment, supplies and materials necessary to carry-out a public service; or creating an expanded meal delivery service for quarantined individuals.
  • March 21, 2020 – The Governor announced the U.S. Small Business Administration will issue an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration for Iowa.
  • March 22, 2020 – The Governor signed a new proclamation continuing the State Public Health Emergency Declaration. Components include:
    •  The closure of salons, medical spas, barbershops, tattoo establishments, tanning facilities, massage therapy establishments, and swimming pools until March 31.
    • Suspends all foreclosures on residential, commercial, and agricultural real property.
    • Professional licensing relief.
  • March 23, 2020 – The Governor announced a Small Business Relief Grant Program to assist small businesses and tax deferrals to Iowa businesses impacted by COVID-19. Deadline of March 31.  
  • March 23, 2020 – The Governor announced that first quarter unemployment tax payments that are due April 30th will be delayed till the end of the 2nd quarter, July 31, 2020. Eligible employers include those employers with 50 or fewer employees.
  • March 25, 2020 – The Governor received notification that President Trump has approved her request for a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration for COVID-19, removing a $5 million cap on federal funds as well as making available the Community Disaster Loan program.
  • March 25, 2020- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approved Iowa’s request for a Section 1135 Medicaid waiver. The approved waiver enables Iowa to forgo certain pre-admission screening and annual resident review assessments in its Medicaid program.
  • March 26, 2020 – The Economic Development Authority created a COVID-19 Targeted Small Business Sole Operator Fund to support small businesses with zero employees – designed to help women, individuals with minority status, service-connected disabled veterans and individuals with disabilities overcome hurdles to start or grow a small business.
  • March 26, 2020 – The Governor 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.
  • March 31, 2020 – The Governor signed a new proclamation continuing the state public health emergency declaration.
  • April 2, 2020 – The Governor signed a new proclamation continuing the State Public Health Emergency Declaration. The proclamation orders the closure of schools, waiving time requirements as long as school districts put in place a continuous learning plan until April 30th.
  • April 4, 2020 – The Governor announced that $44 million has been obligated to the State of Iowa for reimbursement of expenses related to the COVID-19 response.
  • April 6, 2020 – The Governor signed a new proclamation continuing the State Public Health Emergency Declaration, ordering additional closures and relaxing additional regulations.
  • April 8, 2020 – The Governor announced the state is expanding a grant program for small businesses, after receiving thousands of applications requesting assistance
  • April 16, 2020 – The Governor signed new proclamation continuing theState Public Health Emergency Declaration and requiring additional protective measures in Region 6 (Northeastern Iowa). These restrictions include:
    • Limiting social, community, recreational, leisure, and sporting gatherings in Region 6 to only people who live together in the same household
    • Continuing to limit weddings, funerals, and other spiritual or religious gatherings to no more than 10 people
  • April 16, 2020 – The Governor has released an updated dashboard on coronavirus.iowa.gov that will be updated daily to include comprehensive tracking of COVID-19 in Iowa. The new dashboard includes cases, deaths, and tests conducted in each county. The state will also be providing demographic information that was not previously provided as well as Iowa’s epidemiological curve.
  • April 17, 2020 – The Governor announced plans to reopen Iowa through a “phased-in manner” following the guidelines issued by the president.
  • April 19, 2020 – The Governor announced that all school districts and nonpublic schools will be closed for the remainder of the school year.
  • April 20, 2020 – The Governor announced that Iowa meatpacking plants will stay open.
  • April 21, 2020 – The Governor launched  the Test Iowa Initiative to expand testing capacity to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Iowa. The state is partnering with Nomi Health and DOMO, which are part of a partnership that launched a similar initiative in the state of Utah.
  • April 24, 2020 – The Governor signed a new proclamation continuing the State Public Health Emergency Declaration. The proclamation permits health care providers to begin the process of resuming some elective surgeries and procedures through a phased approach, permits farmers markets to begin limited operations with appropriate public health precautions, and outlines other measures.
  • April 27, 2020 – The Governor signed a new proclamation continuing the State Public Health Emergency Declaration until May 27, 2020. The proclamation loosens social distancing measures in 77 Iowa counties effective Friday, May 1 and continues other restrictions until 11:50 p.m. on Friday, May 15, 2020. In the 77 counties, the proclamation permits restaurants, fitness centers, malls, libraries, racetracks, and certain other retail establishments to reopen in a limited fashion with public health measures in place.
  • April 27, 2020 – The Governor, U.S. Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley, and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig wrote a letter to the Vice President asking for additional support from the administration for the state’s pork producers.
  • April 29, 2020 – The Governor’s Iowa Workforce Development Agency, stated that during gradual reopen procedures if an employee refuses to return to work at a business that is opening again, that it would be considered as a “voluntary quit”, this would disqualify them from receiving unemployment benefits.
  • May 4, 2020 – The Governor has pledged that the state would clear its backlog of COVID-19 test results at the State Hygienic Laboratory by the end of Monday May 4th.
  • May 5, 2020 – The Governor announced that she will travel to Washington to meet with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to discuss Iowa’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • May 6, 2020 – The Governor signed a new proclamation continuing the Public Health Disaster Emergency. The proclamation permits dental services to resume in compliance with guidelines adopted by the Iowa Dental Board, permits some additional businesses and establishments to reopen throughout Iowa in a limited fashion with appropriate public health measures in place, and provides additional regulatory relief to assist Iowans affected by this disaster.
  • May 7, 2020- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved Iowa’s second request for a Medicaid 1135 waiver. The waiver allows Iowa to provide flexibilities in Medicaid provider screening and enrollment, forgo evaluation and assessment requirements for home and community-based services, and allow for reimbursement facility services in alternative settings.
  • May 11, 2020 – The Governor announced that she will be following modified quarantine plan after learning a member of Vice President Mike Pence’s staff tested positive for the virus. Gov. Reynolds says her temperature is being taken before she enters the building prior to her press briefing and she is being tested everyday.
  • May 11, 2020 – The Governor will update her office’s public health guidelines in an updated proclamation, according to information provided during her daily coronavirus briefing.
  • May 13, 2020 – The Governor signed a new proclamation continuing the Public Health Disaster Emergency. The proclamation permits salons, barbershops, and massage and tattoo establishments to reopen throughout Iowa in a limited fashion with appropriate public health measures in place. It also permits restaurants (but not bars), fitness centers, libraries, and racetracks to reopen in the 22 counties where they have remained closed. The proclamation continues the other ongoing closures and public health measures, including the prohibition on social, community, recreational, leisure, and sporting gatherings and events of more than 10 people, until 11:59 p.m. on May 27, 2020.
  • May 14, 2020 – The Governor announced Test Iowa’s equipment has been validated and believes the state “has the capacity” to do 5,000 tests per day — 3,000 via the Test Iowa program and another 2,000 through the state hygienic lab.
  • May 20, 2020 – The Governor signed a new proclamation continuing the Public Health Disaster Emergency. The proclamation permits summer school activities, including baseball and softball, to resume on June 1. Effective May 22, Movie theaters, zoos, aquariums, museums, and wedding reception venues will be permitted to reopen with appropriate public health measures in place. Swimming pools will also be permitted to reopen for lap swimming and swimming lessons.
  • May 20, 2020—The Governor announced that on Thursday, May 28, bars and other alcohol-related establishments that have been limited to carryout and delivery will be permitted to reopen for indoor or outdoor seating. These establishments will follow the same public health measures that restaurants have been implementing for the past several weeks.
  • May 26, 2020 – The Governor signed a new proclamation continuing the Public Health Disaster Emergency until June 25, 2020. The proclamation permits bars, wineries, breweries, distilleries, and social and fraternal clubs may reopen on May 28 with the same public health measures as restaurants in place. The proclamation also permits the reopening on June 1 of additional establishments, including outdoor performance venues, casinos, bowling alleys, amusement parks, skating rinks, skate parks, outdoor playgrounds. 
  • May 26, 2020 – The Governor announced that effective June 1, speedways, and racetracks can open events to spectators. Outdoor venues like grandstands and amphitheaters may hold performances. Casinos may reopen, along with amusement parks, bowling alleys, pool halls, and arcades. All must maintain 50% capacity while keeping social distancing and hygiene protocols going.
  • May 27, 2020 – The Governor announced that confirmed cases of COVID-19 are trending toward the western side of the state.
  • May 27, 2020 – The Governor announced that 150 National Guard soldiers are assisting with contact tracing.
  • June 1, 2020 – The Governor and the Iowa Department of Education announced the state has received $26.2 million in federal relief to ensure education continues for students of all ages impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • June 8, 2020 – The Governor announced will further expand access to COVID-19 testing with new sites opening this week, including one in Dallas County to better serve the Des Moines metro area, and four clinic sites in rural communities.
  • June 15, 2020 – The Governor wrote a letter to Iowa Senators and the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture asking for more federal support for state turkey producers due to disruptions occurring in the supply chain.
  • June 18, 2020 – The Governor signed an Executive Order establishing the Governor’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. The advisory board will focus on modernizing Iowa’s economy as well as education, health care, workforce and quality of life.
  • July 1, 2020 – The Governor announced she has directed $490 million of the $1.25 billion in Coronavirus relief funds Iowa was provided through the CARES Act, to be deposited into Iowa’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund.  The deposit will ensure that eligible Iowans continue to receive unemployment insurance benefits, and will also enable Iowa employers to remain in Tax Table 7 for 2021. 
  • July 7, 2020 – The Governor announced that $50 million in federal funds allocated through the CARES Act will be invested in Iowa’s mental health care system. 
  • July 17, 2020 – The Governor signed a new proclamation continuing the Public Health Disaster Emergency and taking a number of actions to advance Iowa’s Return to Learn strategy.
  • July 24, 2020 – The Governor signed a new proclamation continuing the Public Health Disaster Emergency for another 30 days. The proclamation extends public health mitigation measures currently in place for businesses and other establishments.