Rep. Tom Jeneary — March 25, 2021

Greetings from the Statehouse,

This week’s Jeneary Journal might look a little different than last week’s newsletter. I’m trying out a new system so I can contact you all a little bit easier (at least that’s what my clerk says).

Opening Iowa’s Nursing Homes Safely

Iowa’s nursing homes and their direct care staff have done an exceptional job protecting the health of their vulnerable residents throughout this public health emergency. While the physical health of Iowans residing in nursing homes is extremely important, we must not forget the toll isolation from loved ones can have as well.

Last week, after a year of extremely limited visitation, the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Department of Inspections and Appeals expanded their indoor visitation guidance at long-term care facilities.  This guidance takes into consideration the Long Term Care Pharmacy Partnership Program, which as of March 12th has administered 139,142 vaccine doses to Iowa’s nursing home residents and staff.  As of March 17th, there is only one nursing home out of 444 that has COVID-19 cases.  The updated guidance requires nursing homes to allow indoor visitation at all times and for all residents, regardless of vaccination status of the resident, or visitor, unless these three instances arise:

  • Unvaccinated residents, if the COVID-19 county positivity rate is greater than 10% and less than 70$ of residents in the facility are fully vaccinated;
  • Residents with confirmed COVID-19 infection, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, until they have met the criteria to discontinue transmission-based precautions; or
  • Residents in quarantine, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, until they have met criteria for release from quarantine.

The guidance continues to have infection control recommendations for all visits, including screening of everyone entering the facility, face coverings, and 6-foot distancing.

Iowa’s Unemployment Rate Drops Again

Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 3.5 percent from the revised December rate of 3.7 percent. The state’s jobless rate was 2.8 percent one year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent in January.

“Since last April, 2020, Iowa has grown its workforce by 45,400. In January, Iowa added 8,200 workers, which is a positive sign as we look to get more Iowans back into the workforce,” said Director Beth Townsend, Iowa Workforce Development. “As the weather continues to improve and our seasonal layoffs come to an end, we are hopeful our unemployment rate will continue to decline and our labor participation rate will improve.”

The number of unemployed Iowans decreased to 57,400 in January from 59,900 in December. The current estimate is 132,800 lower than the COVID-19 revised peak in April of 190,200 and 8,100 higher than the year ago level of 49,300. The total number of working Iowans increased to 1,567,800 in January. This figure was 8,200 higher than December’s number of 1,559,600 and 45,400 higher than April 2020.

Legislation to Ensure Animal Transportation Passes the House

Last week, the Iowa House unanimously passed House File 655 to ensure that agricultural animals are able to be transported throughout the supply chain without being held up by animal rights activists. This bill creates an offense of interference with the transportation of an agricultural animal if the person interferes with the motor vehicle transporting the animal or interferes directly with the agricultural animals themselves. The penalty for this crime is an aggravated misdemeanor. If a person has been previously convicted of this offense, then the penalty will increase to a class ‘D’ felony.

Iowa Coloring Calendar Contest Submissions are Open

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has announced their Choose Iowa Calendar Contest for the year. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig invites students 18 years and younger to participate in the contest. The requirements are that the artwork should feature at least one aspect of Iowa agriculture – some examples include farm life, livestock, crops, or renewable fuels. Entries must not be colored in as this is a coloring calendar. Submissions will be judged on the creativity or the ability to connect agriculture to everyday life. Entries must be postmarked or emailed by June 1, 2021. The winning artists will be honored at an awards ceremony at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on Tuesday, August 17, 2021 in the Agriculture Building during the 2021 Iowa State Fair.

As always if you have any questions, comments, or concerns please do not hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected].

Representative Tom Jeneary
Serving the Citizens of House District Five

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