Your guide to the lastest information about City services and COVID-19

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State of Iowa and City of West Des Moines Update

April 3, 2020

Governor Reynolds and state public health experts continue to urge Iowans to stay calm, stay informed and stay home, if possible. She discussed the significant incremental steps the state has taken to protect Iowans from the virus since the first cases appeared in Iowa on March 8.

The WDM City Council will hold its regularly scheduled meeting electronically on Monday, April 6, at 5:30 p.m. since City Hall is closed to the public. Visit the City calendar item to view the agenda and for more information about how to participate or listen to the City Council meeting by phone.

April 2, 2020

Governor Reynolds extended school closures and the State Public Health Emergency Proclamation until April 30. School districts must address how they plan to provide continuous learning to students by April 10. The Emergency Proclamation extends business closures, suspensions of nonessential and elective surgical and orthodontic procedures, and the order to limit gatherings to less than ten people.

West Des Moines Public Services announced the following cancellations and postponements:

  • The April 11 Scrap Tire Drop-off has been postponed
  • The May 21 National Public Works Week celebration in Valley Junction has been cancelled
  • The June 1 – 5 Spring Cleanup Week has been postponed
  • The June 6 Scrap Appliance and Metal Drop-off has been cancelled (the next scheduled event is Saturday, Sept. 12)

Human Services reports that the deadline for LIHEAP (low income energy assistance) has been extended to May 29, 2020.

April 1, 2020

Governor Reynolds again stressed that the best way to avoid getting or spreading the virus is to stay home (if you don’t have to report to work) and leave the house for only essential trips to get food or medicine.

When out in public, stay at least six feet away from others (social distancing), wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your face, nose or eyes and avoid gatherings of ten or more people. She said the next two to three weeks are critical for Iowans. Additional guidance for school districts could come as soon as tomorrow.

Gerd Clabaugh, Director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, urged everyone to take care of their mental health and well-being by:

  • Consulting only trusted sources for information, such as the Iowa Department of Public Health, the Polk County Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC);
  • Taking a break from media coverage of the pandemic, which can be overwhelming;
  • Staying healthy, sleeping 8 hours if you can, and exercising;
  • Controlling what you can, such as practicing social distance, washing your hand, and staying at home; and
  • Asking for help if you need it.

Claybaugh said anyone looking for information about COVID-19 or help with mental health issues should visit yourlifeiowa.org or call 855-581-8111 for assistance.

West Des Moines officials continue to urge parents, teens and children to stop playing on playgound equipment. Playgrounds and picnic shelters in WDM are closed. Team sports, pickup games and contact play are prohibited.

Studies show you and your loved ones can be infected with the virus by individuals (of any age) who are not experiencing symptoms, so please use common sense and help save lives by following CDC rules.

March 31, 2020

To save lives, parents are urged to watch their children and not allow them to play or touch playground equipment. Although parks and trails are open, playgrounds and picnic shelters are closed. Team sports, pickup games and contact play are prohibited. When using parks and trails, everyone (even children) must practice social distancing and not gather in groups of ten or more.

West Des Moines tap water is safe to drink. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the CDC report that standard disinfection methods used at treatment plants will kill any pathogens and viruses including coronaviruses. Learn more by visiting their website.

Residents are reminded not to flush anything down their toilets but toilet paper. Paper towels, wipes (flushable or nonflushable) and other items clog sewer pipes and cause costly repairs and cleanup for residents.

March 30, 2020

Due to the ongoing public health emergency, Mayor Steve Gaer signed a new proclamation today that extends the authority he granted to City Manager Tom Hadden until Thursday, April 16, 2020, at 11:59 p.m.

The first proclamation was set to expire on March 31, and it authorizes City Manager Tom Hadden to take actions necessary to provide for the public health, safety and welfare of employees and the citizens of West Des Moines.

Hadden said West Des Moines parks and trails are currently open to the public for recreation, but due to COVID-19 concerns, effective immediately, playground equipment and picnic shelters are closed until further notice.

All park restrooms remain closed and drinking fountains are turned off. The Raccoon River Park Dog Park and Archery Facility, along with tennis and basketball courts, will remain open at this time. Team sports, pickup games and contact play are prohibited.

Hadden stressed the need for all residents to stay home, if possible, and to follow CDC guidelines for social distancing and handwashing. “Now is the time to make sure everyone practices these steps so that we can slow the spread of this virus and save lives,” he said. Read the news release.  

March 27, 2020

Governor Reynolds noted in her news conference that it’s been just 10 days since the first public health disaster declarations went into effect in Iowa. She again urged Iowans to stay home if they are sick or even mildly sick. Only Iowans who are feeling well should go out in public to report to work or run essential errands. CDC guidelines must be followed at all times.

In West Des Moines, Mayor Steve Gaer recorded a video message yesterday that was posted on the City Manager’s Facebook page. If you don’t have access to Facebook, you can view the Mayor's video on the City’s new COVID-19 YouTube channel. This channel also has a video produced by the WDM Parks and Rec Dept. that features employees offering encouraging words about the future. View the Parks video.

Metro Waste Authority will honor 2019 (last year's) Yard Waste Stickers on premium yard waste carts until April 20, 2020 (instead of April 6). For more on the yard waste program, visit our website.

In addition, the City has extended annual pet license renewal from April 30 to June 30, 2020, to allow residents more time to renew licenses for their furry friends. Licenses may be renewed online.

March 26, 2020

The Governor extended the state’s Public Health Disaster Emergency Proclamation until April 7 and added more retail operations to the list. In addition to restaurants and bars which are already closed, she ordered the closure of furniture, home furnishing, luggage, clothing, shoe, cosmetic, beauty supply, perfume and book stores, as well as florists and jewelry stores as of 10 p.m. today.

Effective at 5 p.m. on March 27, elective dental and medical procedures, including surgeries, are to be postponed, as long as the delay doesn’t cause undue risk for the patient. Emergency procedures are still allowed. She said these actions will help preserve personal protective equipment as well as our health care workforce. She also ordered health care facilities, including nursing homes, to engage in enhanced staff health screenings. She continues to recommend schools remain closed until April 13.

Mayor Steve Gaer recorded a video message to residents that is posted on the City Manager’s Facebook page @cityofwdm.

City employees, including public safety personnel, continue to work at home or in shifts to carry out their duties. The Mayor urged residents to contact us online or by phone since buildings are closed to the public. If you have questions about library operations, read a useful Q&A by Library Director Darryl Eschete.

March 25, 2020

Governor Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Public Health continue to make data-driven decisions about how to slow the spread of COVID-19. The current recommendations to stay home and work from home (if you are able) remain appropriate for Iowa. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health care workers is on order, and agencies, such as the Iowa National Guard, are distributing PPE across the state based on critical need.

In West Des Moines, the Public Services Department has cancelled the Tire Drop-off scheduled for Saturday, April 11.

The Parks and Recreation Department has extended the 10% discount on aquatic season passes. Call (515) 222-3444 to purchase a pass. Officials anticipate opening aquatic centers on May 30, although this may change. Parks, trails and greenways remain open. Playgrounds are open at this time per guidance from county health departments. The public should follow CDC guidelines for social distancing, hand washing and not congregating in groups of 10 or more. Park restrooms are still winterized and currently not open due to freezing temperatures.

March 24, 2020

The state of Iowa has launched a new website at https://coronavirus.iowa.gov to keep Iowans informed. At today’s news conference, Governor Reynolds also urged everyone to visit the CDC website for reliable, accurate information.

Everyone is urged to continue to stay calm, take precautions and stay home as much as possible. After reviewing the data, the Iowa Department of Public Health is not recommending a more strict “shelter in place” at this time. Officials said to look at the situation as a dial and not a switch that is turned on or off. As the virus spreads, the dial will go up and down as needed to reflect strategies to slow the spread of the virus.

Governor Reynolds said Iowans are listening and staying at home, washing their hands and covering coughs and sneezes. Recent Department of Transportation numbers show passenger traffic is down almost 50 percent on Iowa roads, but truck traffic is about where it was a year ago. This shows people are staying home when possible and commerce is moving, which is a very positive sign.

March 23, 2020

On March 22, the City of West Des Moines opened its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on a limited basis to bring all our resources together to monitor City operations. The EOC will be staffed to make sure we’re ready to respond to your needs when we see an increase in calls for service. All City employees will be following the latest CDC guidelines as we work to provide essential services for you, our residents.

To date, we are not seeing an unreasonable strain on our health care system or an increase in calls for emergency medical assistance. While this is good news for now, we know the virus is in our community because we have confirmed community spread.

To make sure we slow the spread of COVID-19, we’re encouraging residents to follow the recommendations made by the Governor to stay home if possible.

If you don’t need to go out in public, don’t. If you can work from home, we encourage you to do so. If you need to run an essential errand (make a trip to the grocery store or the pharmacy) or report to work, make sure you maintain proper social distancing, wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitizer.

It’s critically important for everyone to:

  • follow social distancing guidelines (stay at least 6 feet away from people)
  • wash your hands regularly and thoroughly with soap and water
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a household cleaning spray or wipe
  • cover coughs and sneezes (and then throw the tissues away)
  • avoid close contact with people who are sick, and
  • stay home if you’re sick

We know children and adults can transmit the virus to others when they aren’t experiencing symptoms, so CDC guidelines need to be practiced whether you’re feeling fine or you’re sick.

Most mildly ill Iowans do not need to seek medical attention or get tested for the virus. Anyone concerned about symptoms should call 2-1-1 to talk to a health care professional who can walk you through your symptoms and help you decide if you need to stay at home or access medical care. Calling 2-1-1 helps reduce the number of calls to our regular physicians and clinics, and the people answering the phone are trained to assist you.

We need every Iowan to do their part and help us stop the spread of this virus so we can keep essential services up and running. Now is the time, West Des Moines, to talk to your family and friends and encourage them to stay home. It’s the quickest way to stop the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.

March 18, 2020

On March 18, 2020, West Des Moines Mayor Steve Gaer signed a proclamation that authorizes City Manager Tom Hadden to take all actions necessary to provide for the public health, safety and welfare of employees and citizens. As a result of his actions, Hadden announced that City Hall will be closed to the public on Thursday, March 19, at 8 a.m.

In addition, the Public Services building at 560 South 16th Street, the Raccoon River Nature Lodge and the Valley Junction Activity Center will be closed to the public. Although the front lobby of the Police Station will remain open to the public during regular business hours, residents are encouraged to call or use online services when appropriate to conduct all City business.

Hadden said all public safety employees (Police, Fire and Emergency Medical Services) are following their emergency plans and stand ready to provide necessary services to residents. Learn more by reading the March 18 News Release.

State of Iowa Proclamation

On March 17, Governor Kim Reynolds issued a State of Public Health Disaster Emergency, which activates the public health response and recovery aspects of the State Disaster Emergency Plan. The plan means that the following facilities are closed throughout the state of Iowa until March 31, 2020:

  • Restaurants and Bars – carry-out, drive-through and delivery services of food and beverage can be continued
  • Fitness Centers
  • Theaters
  • Casinos and gaming facilities
  • Gatherings of more than 10 people (social, community, spiritual, religious, recreational, leisure and sports gatherings)
  • Senior Citizen and Adult Daycare Facilities

Preventive measures and COVID-19 information

In order to help prevent the spread of this virus, please follow simple preventive measures such as washing your hands and covering coughs and sneezes. You also should avoid touching your face, eyes and mouth. Most importantly, please stay away from work or public places if you’re sick. Social distancing measures also are appropriate. For the latest information about COVID-19, please visit the Polk County Health Department website.

City services and programs

City staff want to remind you to “Skip the Trip” and stay home for services that are available online. We're also happy to help you over the phone. Just call 515-222-3600, from Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

We're still conducting City business at this time, but the situation is changing quickly as we all work together to slow the spread of COVID-19. Our best advice is to stay calm, plan ahead and visit trusted sources for information about the virus. Your City leaders and staff have plans in place to ensure everyone's safety as we work our way through the various stages of this pandemic.

The West Des Moines Police Department is committed to continuing their law enforcement service to our community. Officers are on duty around-the-clock and will continue to respond to calls for service.

To support efforts to minimize unnecessary public exposure, please remember that many services are available online. Visit the Police Department’s web page to learn about the changes we are making and to find out how to access online services such as filing criminal reports for non-violent offenses and requesting copies of police reports.

WDM Emergency Medical Services is prepared and ready to respond when needed. Staff is dedicated to providing medical services to our community, and we are actively engaged with Polk County, Dallas County and the Iowa Department of Public Health.

In order to keep everyone safe, West Des Moines Fire/EMS stations also are closed to the public, including family members. All student ride time has been cancelled, as well as station tours, outside training, CPR classes and civilian rider activities. In addition, no food from the public will be accepted for safety reasons.

The Development Services Department (Planning and Building Divisions) is staffing in shifts to handle development questions and building issues. Visit the Development Services COVID-19 web page to learn how employees can meet your needs while City Hall is closed to the public.

The Human Resources Department reports that due to the closure of City Hall, some recruitment testing may be delayed, moved to a larger location in order to maintain adequate social distancing protocols, or in some cases canceled until a later date. We will notify applicants via the email supplied in your candidate profile as soon as we can regarding each recruitment, but please understand that due to the evolving updates in mitigation protocols, we may not be able to provide much advanced notice of these changes. Please check your e-mail regularly to have the most up-to-date information. We will also update the job posting on our website if other events are canceled (written examinations, open houses, practice sessions, etc.).

Responses to emails or phone calls may be delayed as staffing levels adjust accordingly to ensure the safety of our employees. The City of West Des Moines uses an online application system, so all application materials should be submitted online. On March 19 at 8 a.m., City Hall will be closed to the public, so if you need to bring something to City Hall, please contact Human Resources for further instructions: humanresources@wdm.iowa.gov or 515-222-3616.

The Human Services Department also is modifying how services are offered in order to ensure the health and safety of everyone. The clothing closet is currently closed to clients and donors, and the food pantry will operate with curbside service only. In-person counseling also has been temporarily suspended. The deadline for LIHEAP (low income energy assistance) has been extended to May 1, 2020. To stay current with the latest news and changes, visit the Human Services web page.

The Parks and Recreation Department has cancelled all Parks and Recreation Programs through May 10. To stay up-to-date with the latest information, visit the Parks and Recreation web page.

The West Des Moines Public Library has been closed to the public in consideration of the safety of patrons, staff and the community. For additional details about how the library is operating, visit their website. Read a helpful Q&A about library operations.

The Public Services Department building at 560 South 16th Street is closed to the public. For updated information about yard waste carts and stickers, visit the Public Services web page.

The Tire Drop-off event scheduled for Saturday, April 11, has been postponed, and the May 21 Public Works Week Celebration in Valley Junction and the June 6 Scrap Appliance and Metal Drop-off event have been cancelled. Spring Cleanup (June 1 - 5) has been postponed.

West Des Moines Water Works offices are closed to the public. Customer service is available to provide assistance by calling 515-222-3460 or emailing waterworks@wdmww.com. Officials are asking that all payments be made online, over the phone using a credit or debit card or through the mail. The payment dropbox is still available at 1505 Railroad Ave.

Online payments can be made by visiting the West Des Moines Water Works website. Credit or debit card phone payments can be made by calling (855) 232-9044.

Bills also may be mailed to:

   West Des Moines Water Works
   PO Box 402002
   Des Moines, Iowa 50940-200

Important Water Safety Information: The most important thing to remember is that your water is safe!

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Water Works Association (AWWA), current treatment methods used by West Des Moines Water Works in our water treatment plant, as well as purchased treated water from Des Moines Water Works, are sufficient to disinfect water for contaminants, including COVID-19. For additional information and updates on WDM Water Works, visit their website.