Covid 19

Update #21: This week in the City's response to COVID-19

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Dear neighbors,

As we close another week in this strange new reality of COVID-19, I continue to find reassurance in our collective response. While the virus’s impact on Burlington has not yet peaked, and we face months of uncertainty still to come, it was encouraging this week to get confirmation that the dramatic social distancing efforts of the last three weeks are working and greatly flattening the curve (see more:

I want to share a few of the new actions that the City took this week to respond to this crisis. This week:

  • The City announced a community mask initiative to fabricate by the end of the coming week thousands of high-quality, reusable cloth masks that we will then distribute to non-medical essential workers, like grocery store employees. To date, the City has procured 1400 yards of “bull denim” fabric in partnership with the local fabric store Rags & Riches, partnered with Lyric Theatre Company and the Milton Artists’ Guild to help us create prototype masks, and formed additional partnerships with Vermont Teddy Bear and Queen City Dry Goods to help us scale production of these masks. Are you an experienced sewist who can help make masks, or an essential worker who needs a mask? Get in touch with our Resource & Recovery Center:
  • We made some changes to our Parks facilities in order to keep everyone safe. While it is still okay to walk, run, bike, rest, and do other solo activities that do not require shared equipment, for now, it is no longer okay to play group games on courts or fields, use playgrounds or dog parks, or do other activities that can’t be done without maintaining six feet of social distance. We encourage everyone looking to get outside to use this time to explore some of our less utilized open spaces, like the 127 Bike Path, the walking paths in our cemeteries like Lakeview Cemetery, and your closest neighborhood park.
  • Though we had to close some additional facilities this week, we’re also opening up new spaces for safe public recreation! This week, we announced our “shared streets for social distancing” campaign. Under this initiative, we will adjust our street network to create additional safe places for residents to get out of their houses while allowing for safe distance. The plan includes designating some streets for local traffic only, signage to designate other streets as shared streets, and temporary parking restrictions in select locations to widen key walking and biking corridors. We have launched a few pieces this weekend, and all pieces will be in place by next weekend. See more:
  • Judge Helen Toor issued an order to protect Chittenden County residents from eviction and foreclosure for 90 days, with little exception. I have urged the Court and Legislature to take action to keep Vermonters in their homes, and I welcomed this order. There are still complex financial and policy questions to work through – and we will. For now, though, Judge Toor’s order is an important next step. See more information about housing resources:
  • We launched a food relief pilot program to help connect restaurants that have extra capacity with people who need food. The pilot uses $5,000 in existing grant funds and will run for an initial period of five weeks. Local restaurants who have volunteered are assigned a day, receive a $500 City Market grocery budget, and cook 200 individual meals, which volunteers and the Resource & Recovery Center team then safely deliver to partner non-profits. This is intended to be a supplement to outstanding meal programs like Feeding Chittenden and Meals on Wheels that are seeing a surge in demand.
  • I signed a new emergency regulation that will allow the police to issue civil tickets of up to $500 for willful, repeated violations of social distancing orders. While we will continue to pursue education first, this gives the City a new tool to protect public health in the face of a very small set of Burlingtonians who are putting themselves and others at risk by choosing not to comply with these life-saving orders.
  • We expanded our materials about COVID-19 that are available in languages other than English, including through postcards that are being distributed around town, banners, and an ad in Seven Days.
  • We used existing funds that the City has from the federal government to launch a small business support program that makes $110,000 immediately available to eligible businesses as grants.  This program is the first of a number of federal aid programs that will be arriving, and that our COVID-19 Resource & Recovery Center will help Burlingtonians access.
  • We offered detectives from our Burlington Police Department to assist with the State’s contact tracing, and four of our detectives are now trained and ready to assist the Vermont Department of Health with this critical virus-fighting strategy.
  • Our Emergency Operations Center secured 100 instant-read forehead thermometers, and we offered and distributed these to senior care providers and other high-need, critical organizations in our community to help them keep the virus out of their facilities.

All of this information, and much more, is available on the City website: During this crisis, it’s more important than ever that we all stay connected and informed, and so I also want to invite you to a few upcoming virtual events:

  • Our annual Organization Day and State of the City address is this Monday night, April 6, and we’ll be doing it all over Zoom! Here’s more information about how to watch:
  • I’ve started holding a daily briefing every weekday at 2:00 pm to share the latest updates with our community, and I invite you to watch those briefings live or later through the updates on the City website, Zoom (to watch live:, phone (929-205-6099 and ID: 981 431 445), Channel 17, or Facebook.
  • I’ve also taken my tradition of Wednesday morning coffees with constituents virtual. Please join me this or any Wednesday morning from 9:00 – 10:00 am over Zoom to talk about COVID-19 or anything else.

In this time of unprecedented disruption, loss, and uncertainty, I am grateful for the many ways our community is uniting, innovating, and caring for each other. We will continue to find our way through this together.

Talk to you soon,