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Iowa Catholic Conference Newsletter, March 20, 2020, COVID-19 Update


The Iowa legislative session will be suspended for a minimum of 30 days. The decision was made by state leaders in consultation with the Department of Public Health and Governor’s Office based on recommendations from the Center for Disease Control related to mass gatherings to protect vulnerable populations.

The House and Senate will convene tomorrow (Monday) to consider resolutions regarding continuity of government to ensure delivery of essential services to Iowans. Previously scheduled subcommittee and committee meetings have been cancelled.

All scheduled events, tours, and receptions at the Capitol are cancelled until further notice.


“Community spread” of the COVID-19 virus has been identified in Iowa. Community spread occurs when individuals have been infected with the virus in an area and cannot specifically identify the source of the infection, or do not know how or where they became infected.

Gov. Reynolds has announced that Iowans should not attend or hold gatherings of more than 250 people. As of this writing, wholesale school closures are not recommended. She said leaders of institutions and organizers of events should begin to act on their contingency plans related to large gatherings.

According to the governor’s office, Iowans should do their part to protect their health and the health of others:

  • Individuals 60 years of age and older with underlying conditions should stay at home and avoid gatherings or other situations of potential exposures, including travel to affected areas.

  • Consider personal social distancing measures: avoid large gatherings, limit the number of attendees per gathering.

  • Consider working remotely or access online learning when possible.

  • Encourage staff to telework (when feasible), particularly individuals at increased risk of severe illness.

  • Limit non-essential work travel and gatherings.

Follow CDC guidance regarding school closures if a school-based case is identified, implement short term suspension for school cleaning and contact tracing, and alter schedules to reduce student mixing. Cancel extracurricular activities as needed.

To stay up to date on what’s happening in each of the Iowa dioceses, you can visit their web sites:

The Iowa Department of Public Health and 211 are working together to provide resource referrals for the COVID-19 outbreak. If individuals have concerns about COVID-19 they can call 211.

If you want to keep up with what the Iowa Department of Public Health is saying about the COVID-19 coronavirus, including guidance for businesses and schools, go to


Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, encouraged lawmakers as they consider measures to provide relief and aid to those suffering from coronavirus, as well as those affected by workplace closures and other disruptions.

The archbishop called for several specific forms of relief, including:

  • Increased food security measures

  • Paid sick leave

  • Adequate care for immigrants regardless of status and non-enforcement at hospitals and clinics

  • Greater assistance for low-income workers, the unemployed, and homeless

  • Affordable health care for those seeking treatment

  • Suspending SNAP work requirements

  • Additional resources for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program

H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, has passed the U.S. House and it is expected to be taken up by the Senate early this week.


Pope Francis offered a prayer to the Virgin Mary on Wednesday afternoon to mark the Diocese of Rome’s day of prayer and fasting for the coronavirus emergency. Here is the prayer:

O Mary, you shine continuously on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope.

We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick.

At the foot of the Cross you participated in Jesus’ pain,

with steadfast faith.

You, Salvation of the Roman People, know what we need.

We are certain that you will provide, so that,

as you did at Cana of Galilee,

joy and feasting might return after this moment of trial.

Help us, Mother of Divine Love,

to conform ourselves to the Father’s will

and to do what Jesus tells us:

He who took our sufferings upon Himself, and bore our sorrows to bring us,

through the Cross, to the joy of the Resurrection. Amen.

We seek refuge under your protection, O Holy Mother of God.

Do not despise our pleas – we who are put to the test – and deliver us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin.



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