Covid 19

Update #80: Testing opportunities + new restrictions on social gatherings

November 13, 2020


Vermont broke its one-day record for new cases of Covid-19 infection this week, twice. While to date Burlington is not the major source of these cases, we face rising case growth and a critical crossroads. We must continue to work together to bring levels of Covid-19 in our community back down, to keep our residents healthy, our schools safely open, and our businesses running.

I’m writing to share updates as well as reasons for hope, but most importantly, I am writing to ask for your help. The decisions that you make, that your family makes, and that we collectively make in the coming weeks will determine whether we are able to continue boxing in and managing this virus or if we will face a broader challenge of widespread community transmission.

Wastewater monitoring: We are now seeing elevated levels of Covid-19 at two of our three wastewater treatment plants – the ones that cover the Old North End, Hill Section, South End, and New North End. This information confirms that the prevalence of the virus is now higher throughout the City than it has been since we put the monitoring in place.

Testing this week: This week, the City worked quickly to test 300 additional people, and the Department of Health is testing 150 additional people tomorrow (registration is full). Though we weren’t able to test everyone, this was a big increase in tests that will help us quickly identify and contain potential new cases.

Testing next week: Now, we’re also announcing that there will be free testing available in the Burlington area every weekday next week:

  • The Department of Health is offering free testing opportunities in our area every day next week. See the details on their website. These sites will all offer interpretation services.
  • The City is working to set up an additional site next week to further expand free testing opportunities for residents. Check back on the City website for updates as we have them.

New restrictions on social gatherings: The State is seeing that 71 percent of the cases associated with an outbreak have resulted from private parties and social gatherings. As a result, Governor Scott today announced new mitigation measures that are designed to limit these types of interactions. I urge all Burlingtonians to follow this guidance – including as we’re all thinking about our holiday plans:

  • For the time being, the Governor is requiring Vermonters to suspend all social gatherings that involve more than one household, or in other words, getting together with anyone outside of your household for socializing.
  • Bars and social clubs will be closed for in-person service, and restaurants will only be able to seat one household per table and will close for in-person dining at 10:00 pm.
  • Consider obtaining testing if you have attended a gathering with people who are not in your usual social circle in the period since Halloween.
  • Limit non-essential travel, and quarantine if you have been out of the state. This includes any college students who are returning home in Vermont from in-state or out-of-state schools.
  • And of course, follow the essential guidance of keeping a 6-foot distance, staying home when you are sick (even with mild symptoms!), and wearing a face mask (the latest from the CDC is that face masks protect the wearer too). Call your health care provider if you develop any symptoms.
  • Learn more on the Department of Health website:

The City can help: Remember that the City’s Resource & Recovery Center (RRC) can help you obtain a free face covering if you need one, follow the requirements for quarantining (like connecting you with volunteers who can pick up your groceries), and more. Reach the RRC at 802-755-7239,, or

Looking ahead: In closing, I want to share two thoughts that are reasons for optimism for us and our community. First, remember that we may not see immediate results from our increased vigilance – but that we have successfully done this before and by acting now, we can prevent this surge from growing even more a week from now. And second, the news about progress in vaccine development creates real hope that the end of this pandemic is in sight. By sustaining our vigilance and using all that we have learned over the last eight months, we can bring case numbers back down – and keep our schools open, our hospitals functioning well, and our community healthy.

Talk to you soon,