Beth Townsend

State officials will release a report next week, but Iowa Workforce Development director Beth Townsend is offering a glimpse of the huge increase in jobless claims as businesses shut down during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We are seeing an unprecedented number of claims…It’s pretty staggering,” Townsend says. “Essentially what we’re receiving on a daily basis is what we’d see in a busy month.”

The Iowa Restaurant Association warns the jobs for as many as 80,000 Iowans in that industry are in jeopardy due to the unprecedented closure of bars and restaurants. Townsend says her agency’s goal is to get an unemployment check to most every eligible Iowan no more than 10 days after they file their claim.

“We are working very hard to lessen the financial impact of the temporary loss of income due to COVID-19-related layoffs,” Townsend says.

The requirement that Iowans receiving unemployment benefits actively search for other jobs has been temporarily waived during this emergency period as well.

“If you are laid off due to COVID-19, if you need to stay home to self-isolate or to care for family members or children due to illness related to COVID-19 or because of school and daycare closures, you can receive unemployment benefits provided you meet the other eligibility requirements,” Townsend says.

Governor Kim Reynolds says later today her staff will release details about alternative child care facilities for the children of health care workers and first responders.

A middle aged patient from Allamakee County is the latest positive case of COVID-19 in Iowa. About a third of the cases in Iowa so far have been in the 41 to 60 age range and nearly half are over the age of 60.

(This posted was updated with new information at 3:36pm.)