Covid 19

Update #37: This week in the City's response to COVID-19

May 1, 2020


Like many of you, I am heartened to see numbers of new infections continue to trend downward in Vermont and here in Chittenden County. All Vermonters and Burlingtonians have made sacrifices in order to achieve this, and by working together, we have saved lives. Thank you. We also have put the city in position to start pursuing a careful, phased re-opening. The next stage of this crisis will require us to restart our community while the threat of the virus remains, and will involve many new challenges and much uncertainty. As we enter this new phase, we should take strength and hope from our collective progress since mid-March.

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

> Distributing masks: We now are distributing masks produced through our BTV Community Mask Initiative for free to any Burlingtonian who wants one, with the goal of fully meeting need by May 15. We’ve already distributed more than 12,000 masks to essential workers at places like the Howard Center and grocery stores, to vulnerable Burlingtonians through places like senior care facilities, and to the general public. I joined a distribution at Hannaford in the New North End this week, and it was so refreshing to get to see Burlingtonians (even if wearing a mask and from 6 feet away!). Check the City website for the list of 8 locations and hours where we’ll be distributing masks next week:

> Restarting City tree planting: The City has worked to dramatically expand our tree planting (in 2019, we more than doubled the number of street and park trees that we planted compared with previous years!). This year, before COVID-19 hit, our City arborist team placed the order for the spring shipment of bare root trees. By the time the trees arrived, the “Stay Home” order had halted tree planting. The City team put these perishable trees in cold storage in our Maintenance Building at Leddy Arena and hoped that we’d be able to plant them. Thankfully, changes to the “Stay Home” order came just in time, and the City’s four-person arborist team has worked diligently and safely to plant an amazing 260 street and park trees over the last 8 days. There are yellow tags on the trees with the names of the species, so take a look at the tags as you’re out walking and get to know your new City trees!

> Taking on new challenges: I am so proud of and grateful for the way that our City team is pivoting to meet the many new needs raised by COVID-19 and its disruptions. From coordinating mask production and distribution, to responding to hundreds of requests for help (and offers of assistance), to guiding small businesses through loan applications, to developing virtual opportunities for connection, to delivering diapers, and much more -- the City is lucky to have such a committed and talented group of employees. You can read more about the City's work to respond to this crisis in this week's Seven Days:

> Following the data using our dashboard: In April, we launched a City COVID-19 dashboard to supplement the State’s and provide locally focused maps, data, and other resources to help keep our community informed about COVID-19. Take a look:

> Responding to requests for help: Our Resource & Recovery Center responded to 75 COVID-19 related requests over the last week, and more than 800 since we launched it on March 23. If you need help as a result of COVID-19, contact the RRC:

> Working through COVID-19’s impact on City finances: Like other organizations, the City itself is facing a major budget challenge. The City’s finances rely significantly on income fees and taxes on economic activity in the City, like dining in restaurants and staying at hotels, that is not currently happening. After years of stable and growing revenues, we anticipate dramatic revenue reductions over the next 15-24 months. Our work to stabilize the City’s finances in recent years has put us in good position to get through this storm, but as is the case for many other cities, unless we receive significant federal relief, the FY21 budget will require very painful decisions. You can read more about the City’s initial financial plan in my recent memo to the City Council:

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 on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 2:00 pm. You can find all of these updates, as well as the details for how to watch live, 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:

Thank you for all that each of you is doing. We will continue to get through this together.

Talk to you soon,