Public Health and Government
Corteva worker in Johnston confirmed positive for COVID-19
An employee at Corteva Agriscience’s Johnston campus tested positive for COVID-19 this week, the Iowa Capital Dispatch reported. Many employees were told to work at home beginning this week. “We can confirm that an employee at our Johnston office has tested positive for COVID-19,” said company spokesman Gregg Schmidt, via email from company headquarters in Wilmington, Del. Corteva has quarantined the employee and alerted state health officials, as required. Crews are deep-cleaning the complex. Many workers are stationed at home. 

The city of Pleasant Hill closed City Hall to members of the public beginning at noon today, city staff announced this morning. City business can be done online at www.pleasanthilliowa.org or by phone at 515-262-9368. 

The city of Ankeny closed all facilities to the public this afternoon. All public and private events at Ankeny Kirkendall Public Library, Prairie Ridge Sports Complex, Ankeny Market & Pavilion, Lakeside Center, Outdoor Education Center, Pinnacle Club and shelter houses are canceled. All parks and recreation youth and adult sports, classes and programs are canceled. The Ankeny Fire Department has suspended commercial building inspections; the Ankeny Policy Department has suspended fingerprinting services and building tours. The entrance of City Hall is open for business that cannot be completed online or over the phone. A full list of changes and ongoing updates are available online

Story County Conservation is modifying all public programs and facility rentals, but parks and trails will remain open, the organization announced today. A full statement is available online

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced new contacts for community members to reach the USDA for assistance in feeding children and strengthening the U.S. food supply chain during the COVID-19 outbreak. Perdue announced a collaboration with the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, McLane Global, PepsiCo and others to deliver nearly 1 million meals per week to students in a limited number of rural school districts closed; last week, Perdue waived a rule requiring schools who provide outside-school-day meals to students to serve the meal in a group setting. Those interested in learning more about the USDA’s meal delivery system to rural districts may email feedingkids@usda.gov. Those interested in initiatives impacting the U.S. food supply chain may email foodsupplychain@usda.gov

The United States Postal Service is continuing operations as normal with minor operational impacts in the U.S., the USPS announced today. The USPS is considered an essential service enabling compliance of social distancing requirements, and the surgeon general, the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization have indicated there is no evidence of COVID-19 being spread through the mail. A temporary suspension of Priority Mail Express International to China and Hong Kong remains in effect due to widespread airline cancellations and restrictions. 

Business
Fareway announced new hours for all stores until further notice. Beginning Wednesday, all Fareway stores and meat markets will reserve the first hour of business from 8 to 9 a.m. for customers 65 and older, expecting mothers, those living with a serious chronic medical condition, and anyone with an underlying medical condition that increases the susceptibility to serious illness from COVID-19. Fareway asks for cooperation from customers in respecting the hour reserved for higher-risk customers. All stores will also be closing an hour earlier at 7 p.m. to allow staff time for additional cleaning, sanitation and restocking inventory. Ongoing updates will be available online

FemCity Des Moines has canceled all March and April events except for the March Around Town Social on March 26, which will be held virtually via Zoom. More information is available in a statement by President Erin Huiatt

Iowa Legal Aid is suspending walk-in intakes in all offices through April 3 and postponing its March 26 fundraiser Equal Justice After Hours, but services are still fully operational for clients, the organization announced today. Clients can access services by calling 800-532-1275 or online at www.iowalegalaid.org

Health Care
Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield announced it has begun waiving cost share payments for members’ virtual health care visits. “To avoid the spread of COVID-19, we encourage our members to take advantage of virtual visits with their current primary care physician, if they have this capability,” the Des Moines-based insurer said on its website. Wellmark members who don’t currently have a primary care physician should use an in-network provider or its Doctor on Demand virtual visit site. The cost share for such visits, including those for mental health reasons, is waived for the next 90 days for all fully insured and self-funded plans. Wellmark said it will also waive prior authorization processes for covered services related to COVID-19, and that members will have no cost-share for appropriate testing to establish the diagnosis of COVID-19. Updates are available on Wellmark’s COVID-19 page.

Arts and Culture
Local artists Tony Bohnenkamp and Jerry Lorenson of Pianopalooza will be hosting a St. Patrick’s Day Facebook Live broadcast. The online broadcast started at noon. Find out more information on their Facebook pageView the live video on Facebook.

 The Des Moines Symphony is postponing all concerts and events through May 3. Ticketholders will be directly notified of postponed events, and the Symphony is working to reschedule concerts into the summer and fall of 2020. Ongoing updates will be available online

Education
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is canceling all events through April 4. 

Pi515 is postponing the Future of Work Youth Summit until this fall. Updates will be available on Facebook