Covid 19

Update #31: This week in the City's response to COVID-19

Saturday, April 18, 2020

2:24 p.m.


On Friday, Governor Scott announced a slight loosening of some of the restrictions in place to keep people apart as we work to slow the transmission of this illness. The changes allow select types of business operations, like bike repairs (which weren’t fully clear before), to restart on a limited basis and as long as safety precautions are in place. Though these changes are limited in scope, they represent a significant inflection point: For the first time in this crisis, we are moving back in the direction of normalcy. It will take a long time to get there, and no one expects that it will be a linear path. We should all take heart, though, that our efforts are working.

As we close another week in our response to this crisis, I want to share some updates on the City’s work this week:

  • Our BTV Community Mask Initiative fulfilled almost all of the requests for masks that we’ve received from essential workers who live or work in Burlington (we’re still trying to reach a small handful of people). This is 3,357 masks to date, distributed to 31 organizations that are doing essential work in our community. We now are turning our focus to developing a distribution plan to get a mask to any Burlingtonian who wants one by May 15 (the duration of the Stay Home order). These are high-quality masks made through a community effort involving many partners – including experienced volunteers, the Lyric Theatre Company, Vermont Teddy Bear, and others – all fabricating masks out of materials procured by the City.
  • Our City Resource & Recovery Center (RRC) fielded 223 direct questions over the last week alone, and 642 to date. These are coming in by phone, email, and See Click Fix, and they range from questions about unemployment insurance to offers to help make masks. Our RRC also organized a “virtual Town Hall” on resources for coping with mental health and addictions challenges during COVID-19, and plans to host one webinar every week going forward. We also overhauled the RRC website to make it easier to find key information and resources. Take a look:
  • I am very concerned about Burlingtonians accessing Unemployment Insurance benefits and have been voicing those concerns, suggesting ideas, and offering assistance to the Department of Labor since the beginning of April. This week, I talked directly with Department of Labor Commissioner Michael Harrington and offered help responding to calls, surging tech resources to build a new system, and advocating for federal changes to address the huge backlog of claims. We will continue to monitor the situation and fight for Burlingtonians to get these critical resources as soon as possible.
  • Our City departments launched great new programming to give people outlets for fun, learning, and connection even as many of us are at home. These include Parks, Recreation & Waterfront’s “virtual recreation” video series (I recommend the “Play Ball in the House with Coach Gary” videos with tips from the City’s own Gary Rogers and his kids), the Fletcher Free Library’s new “digital calendar” with virtual Library programming and handpicked recommendations for local events online, and Burlington City Arts’ first-ever online artist talk. And be sure to look out for the gnomes on the Library’s social media pages! Find links to these resources and others:
  • I know that many in the City are concerned about potholes and graffiti. Please know that under the Governor’s Stay Home order, we have had to suspend a number of municipal services that are considered non-essential, including non-urgent road work and graffiti removal. We are reviewing the changes to this guidance from Friday and are hopeful we will be able to safely restore some of these City services in the coming week.
  • We expanded our “Shared Streets for Social Distancing” initiative, which is designed to create additional space for Burlingtonians to be outside while allowing for 6 feet of social distance. This initiative now includes 25 percent of our street network, with 17 miles of “shared streets” and 6.5 miles of “local traffic only” streets. We were able to pivot to launch this program quickly, and we have spent a modest $4,943 on signage for the program, including many signs that we will be able to reuse. Learn more and find a “shared street” near you:
  • Our Burlington City Arts launched the BCA Relief Fund to support artists who have lost income due to COVID-19 related cancellations. All money for this fund has been raised by the BCA Foundation – and community members also are invited to contribute if you are able to. Learn more and apply:

These are just the few of the highlights of the City’s work this week. I’ve been sharing this information and much more in the daily briefings that I’m holding every weekday at 2:00 pm. I invite you to watch or listen to these updates live through Zoom (, phone (929-205-6099, ID 981 431 445), Facebook (, or Channel 17’s YouTube channel. You also can find all of the recordings on the City website:

Lastly, I’ve also taken my tradition of Wednesday morning coffees with constituents and moved it online. I invite you to join me on Wednesday morning from 9:00 – 10:00 am to let me know what you think about the City’s response to COVID-19 or anything else that’s on your mind. Find information about how to join the virtual coffee here:

I am so grateful for our community. From the messages thanking health care workers, to the stuffed animals in windows, to many other acts of care for each other, I know that we will continue to get through this crisis as we have so far already – together.

Talk to you soon,