Mayor Weinberger Announces End to Coronavirus Emergency by Executive Order, City Releases Covid-19 Pandemic Response After Action Report

Mayor Weinberger Announces End to Coronavirus Emergency by Executive Order, City Releases Covid-19 Pandemic Response After Action Report 

In a Global Pandemic, Local Actions Matter, Key Findings Include how the City Leveraged Assets, Focused on Equity and Used Data to Drive Interventions 

Burlington, VT - Today, Mayor Miro Weinberger hosted an in-person Covid-19 briefing at City Hall to announce the end of the Coronavirus Emergency in Burlington by Executive Order, and to present key findings of a new Covid-19 Pandemic Response After Action Report released by the City.  

The report, written by Burlington’s former Covid Response Leader Brian Lowe and Burlington’s Analytics Team, details decisions and choices the current City team made in 2020 and 2021 about how to restructure City operations, overhaul existing communication practices, leverage and empower community leaders and organizations, allocate resources, and – rarely – break with conventional Federal public health guidance in the face of accumulating evidence to better serve and protect residents. 

“Our community’s performance throughout this emergency response has been exceptional,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “The after action report we are releasing today outlines 8 guiding principles of our pandemic response and details numerous critical interventions, best practices, and lessons learned. What I have learned over the last 457 days– and what this community should long remember – is that even in the face of a seemingly insurmountable challenge, the people of Burlington are capable of forging incredible progress.” 

"The Mayor and the City’s leadership approached this crisis with the firm belief, backed by clear evidence, that the actions taken by local governments could impact that pandemic’s trajectory for better or worse,” said Meagan Tuttle, Covid-19 Response Leader and Comprehensive Planner for Burlington. “This report was created to capture experiences and lessons learned by the City team during the pandemic with the hope that it will be valuable to our successors in the event of future crises—whether that takes the form of a public health emergency, climate emergency, or some other emergency. We also know that these lessons will help inform our work as we seek to emerge from the pandemic as a more resilient and equitable city.” 

Stephen Leffler, President and Chief Operating Officer of the University of Vermont Medical Center, and a speaker at more than 30 of the Mayor’s Covid-19 briefings attended the event and said, “I really firmly believe that Chittenden County, Vermont, has had the best response to the pandemic in the country.”

Key Findings of the Covid-19 Pandemic Response After Action Report include:  

  • By February 2020, the Mayor ordered a review of readily available literature on Burlington’s response to the 1918 pandemic as well as a review of the City’s existing pandemic response plan (which was based around the H1N1 experience in the early 2010s and the planning for a potential Ebola emergency in 2014) - providing clear evidence that city government action could impact the trajectory of a pandemic locally. 

  • Burlington faired remarkably well, despite being both a University and college town with a high concentration of long-term care facilities. Chittenden County ranked near the very top of counties with 50,000 or more inhabitants, tracking in the 96th percentile for infections and 92nd percentile for deaths. 

  • Burlington leverage city assets and used data analysis to augment the state and federal response. For example; the combination of early warning signals from the City’s wastewater monitoring program and the clear communication among, and proactive action taken by, a network of senior service providers helped limit the spread of at least two potential outbreaks in local Long Term Care Facilities. 

  • When the coronavirus struck Burlington, U.S. public health authorities were divided, providing confusing, conflicting, and sometimes incorrect public health guidance.  Burlington took critical early actions during this period of uncertainty;  

           1. Securing financial resources to address unknown future challenges quickly;  

           2. Restructuring City government to make decisions informed by data, research, and emerging best practices;  

           3. Formally activating existing “emergency” measures that fall within the City’s authorities and complement the state’s actions;  

           4. Establishing a new entity to help manage a high volume of resident needs and requests; and  

           5. Identifying a point person to coordinate the city’s response. 

  • To help ensure that the response efforts were appropriately informed, the City entered into a data use agreement with VDH in order to gain access to City level and race-disaggregated data on testing, cases, deaths, and vaccinations in order to identify any disparities. In the late spring of 2020, REIB and the Mayor’s Office developed an 8-Point Plan for the City’s COVID response. That plan focused attention on critical resources like testing and vaccinations and supported the creation of a multi-lingual task force to help share vital information in videos, text, and on the City’s website across the many languages spoken in Burlington. 

 

The full report can be found on the City’s website here

Burlington’s Covid-19 Dashboard is on the City’s website here: Coronavirus Response - Who's Impacted (arcgis.com) 

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Press Release Date: 
06/17/2021
City Department: 
Mayor's Office