Mayor Miro Weinberger and other city leaders are keeping a close eye on a cluster of coronavirus cases at Burlington Health and Rehab, where six people have died after testing positive for COVID-19.
“I think we need to be preparing for a marathon,” Weinberger said Wednesday in a video update on the how the city is responding to the outbreak.
Weimnberger said the statewide stay-at-home order issued By Gov. Phil Scott, which took effect at 5 p.m. Wednesday, is critical to slowing the spread of the virus. “I don’t think we can get through this crisis without an order like this so I welcome that he’s taken it,” the mayor said.
More than 1,000 Burlingtonians have been laid off in the recent days, Weinberger said. On Monday, the city opened a Resource and Recovery Center to help them file unemployment claims and access other services. The center will also help those struggling to pay rent and people worried about losing their homes.
“This is a public health emergency that requires everyone has a home, everyone has a roof over their head, everyone have a place where they can be safe and protected from the virus,” Weinberger said.
With that in mind, the city’s low-barrier shelter for the homeless has been moved to North Beach, where the community can spread out in nearly 30 available campers in line with social distancing guidelines.
Interim Police Chief Jennifer Morrison urges Burlingtonians to follow those guidelines and the stay-at-home order for the good of the community.
“We do not want to get into an enforcement posture,” Morrison said. “Nobody wins in that case, but we will bring it if that’s what’s required to keep this community safe.”
According to UVM Medical Center, there are six coronavirus patients at the hospital and another ten people under observation. As health care workers have struggled to find parking, the university has freed up more than 250 spaces to help accommodate.