Letter from Mayor Bennett regarding COVID-19

I hope this finds you all safe and healthy as we head into another week of navigating with COVID-19. Thus far the procedures we have put into place have worked effectively. Thank you to all of you for doing your part and taking COVID-19 seriously.

For many, these are stressful times and we’re working as quickly to guide and provide clarity to our Hiawatha team, citizens and our business community.

As an employer and government entity, the City of Hiawatha is leading by example and committed to both the safety and welfare of our citizens and our employees while maintaining the continuity of essential public services.  Both President Trump and Governor Reynolds have declared a disaster and/or emergency and extended COVID-19 guidelines through April 30.  The City of Hiawatha continues to strive to follow all guidelines put in place by the Center for Disease Control (CDS), Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Linn County Public Health Department.

The federal guidelines continue to recommend against large group gatherings and urge older people and anyone with existing health problems to stay home. People are urged to work at home when possible and avoid restaurants, bars, non-essential travel and shopping trips. In addition, the federal and state government have taken legislative and/or executive actions that impact employee leave in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

On March 27, President Trump signed the CARES Act, a $2 trillion emergency package intended to bar off total economic collapse in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. The economic initiative packages are being worked through now; Iowa Department of Economic Development and our metro economic development corporations are fully engaged to assist Iowa businesses as they determine their immediate needs.

On March 18, as you know, the city officially closed its doors to the public cancelling all non-essential meetings and activities in compliance with the recommendations from IDPH to limit such gatherings.

Meetings for the City of Hiawatha Council continue as scheduled electronically through an electronic format until further notice due to the concerns regarding person-to-person transmission of the COVID-19 virus. Information of the meetings are posted on our media resources, website and social media; meeting agendas include essential items only. Citizens can access our city of Hiawatha council meetings through three resources:

  • YouTube channel at City of Hiawatha,
  • Google Hangouts at google.com; citizens can find the link to join our meetings on our city website under NEWS section on the top right of the home page
  • City hall doors are open for attendance but is limited to 10 people. Police Chief Marks monitors the chambers and citizens inquiries if present for the meeting.


At the same time the City declared its own Disaster Declaration and was signed by myself on March 19, 2020. A Disaster Declaration is the formal step that authorizes the use of all available municipal and county resources as reasonably needed to assist in the response to COVID-19. The City will document in the event the expenses incurred during our response are reimbursable by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. As the impacts of COVID-19 continue in our community, we encourage all residents to continue to do their part to help minimize the spread of the disease.

April 1, in addition to the city’s declaration the City Council approved and directed myself to sign the Linn County Declaration of Disaster Emergency resolution as a jurisdictional proclamation to assist Linn County Emergency Management Agency in performing any and all activities necessary to prevent, contain, and mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 virus.


Essential Services:


Hiawatha essential service employees required to remain working full-time on site are as follows:

  • Emergency Service Personnel in the Police and Fire/Ambulance Departments, unless specifically listed elsewhere; Working in shifts opposite of others on the team to minimize exposure. Each department continues to screen their personal for symptoms of COVID-19 before starting their shifts; PPE’s are adequate for the meantime. They will work with Linn County Emergency Management for additional and needed supplies;
  • Fire/EMS volunteers-for those that have been laid off from the department has provided opportunities for volunteers to pick up shifts;
  • Sanitary sewer personnel and public works personnel; working in shifts opposite of others on team to reduce exposure; or working on separate projects to allow separation;
  • Water department personnel; working in shifts opposite of others on team too
  • Building inspectors; working from home administratively while going on site for inspections; Residential & Commercial inspection of new construction only on site; Some video inspections being completed on electrical and water heaters. No rental inspections until self-isolation is lifted;

All department heads are reporting to work.  Some of these employees are allowed to work from home with advance approval from their supervisor. In some instances, these employees may be required to work overtime or otherwise adjust their regular schedules to assist during this crisis. The following list of identified essential critical infrastructure workers is intended to be overly inclusive reflecting the diversity of industries across the United States.


  • Other Resources of Interest
    • Cedar Rapids Transit System stopped running with the exception of LIFTS. The service is suspended until April 13. Extensions may be needed.
    • Linn County Solid Waste closed their doors to the public with the exception of providing essential service of landfilling garbage. Garbage is being accepted from commercial account holders only.
    • On March 25, we officially closed playground areas. Cedar Rapids, Marion and Linn County followed suit. Signs were posted at each playground stating they are temporarily closed due to COVID-19. Although we may not be able to control usage it is to the discretion of the user. We continue to encouraging people to get fresh air and take walks, ride bikes around the trails as long as they are healthy and keep a safe distance. The National Park and Recreation Association put out a promotional piece educating people of the do’s and don’ts of when they are outdoors.
    • Postpone the following city activities until the fall of 2020 due to the extension of the Federal COVID19 guidelines of April 30. The activities to be postponed-Earth Day (April 25), Amnesty Day (May 4) and no promotion of Garage Sale Weekend (May 2).
    • We will maintain leaf and brush pick up set for the week of April 27.

How do continue to support our local retail business:

There is virtually no industry that has not been affected by the spread of COVI19 including our locally owned businesses. Here are some ways to support local business at this time:

  • Shop online. Many businesses have online storefronts that offer deliver or in person pick up. https://hedco.org
  • Buy gift cards now use them later
  • Support the local economy-see HEDCO business directory https://hedco.org
  • Order take out from local restaurants
  • Interact with local businesses on social media-share their content to your page or like and comment on their posts.

Stay Safe and Healthy,

Mayor Bennett