Burlington, Vermont’s mayor discussed the area’s high level of vaccinations during a COVID update Wednesday. He also announced an appointment to a city department — which if approved by the City Council will mean one of its members must resign.
The first part of Democratic Mayor Miro Weinberger’s report on the status of the coronavirus in Burlington and surrounding Chittenden County was replete with graphics showing there is diminishing risk of the virus spreading through the community.
“The state of Vermont reports that Chittenden County has become the highest vaccinated county within the state and the greatest percentage of our population is vaccinated of any Vermont county," the mayor said. "And given that Vermont is leading the national efforts, is literally the top state in terms of overall vaccinations, this makes Chittenden County the highest vaccinated county in the highest vaccinated state in the nation.”
The data presented by the mayor shows that 74.8 percent of Chittenden County residents age 12 and over have gotten at least the first dose of the vaccine. UVM Medical Center CEO and President Dr. Stephen Leffler is encouraged by the trends.
“I love seeing our younger Vermonters ages 12 and above getting vaccinated very quickly at a high rate," Leffler said. "We’ve seen the number of Vermonters being infected since mid-April as vaccines started to really pick up drastically drop off. Vaccinated people just really don’t catch COVID, don’t get sick and don’t end up in the hospital. And so I think these results exactly reflect our leadership in the country on getting vaccinated.”
The CDC and state of Vermont have ended most mask mandates for vaccinated individuals. But the Burlington City Council is keeping a mask mandate in city buildings and retail businesses. Chief Innovation Officer Brian Lowe explains requirements.
“The new state guidance does require masking in certain areas and in certain lines of work," Lowe said. "For example in addition to the mask mandate remaining for folks who are not yet vaccinated the mask mandate remains in child care and school settings and in public transport settings. So that means busses or the airport. But it also remains in healthcare settings and in long term care facility settings. And by the state rules it allows businesses and individuals to kind of set their own standards. It does not prevent anyone from putting masking guidelines up in their business or for themselves. The key distinction that I want to make sure is clear is just that in Burlington specifically the Council has decided to postpone action on reviewing the city’s local mask mandate. And that will stay in effect for city buildings and for retail in Burlington until at least June 7th”
Mayor Weinberger also announced the appointment of a new director for the city’s Community and Economic Development Office, known as CEDO.
“I am so excited to announce that Brian Pine I am appointing to be Burlington’s next CEDO director," the mayor announced. "I believe Brian is uniquely qualified to lead CEDO. He worked in the department for 18 years. He knows this community extraordinarily well having served in a variety of roles. He will have an opportunity to lead a department that is coming out of the pandemic invigorated and he also is someone who has shown demonstrated over a long period of time a deep commitment to the key challenges that the city and the CEDO face right now.”
Pine is currently a Progressive city councilor for Ward 3. He said he is excited to return to the city department where his priorities will include implementing a strategic plan, economic and community recovery, housing and homelessness.
“I’m really grateful for the opportunity to rejoin the CEDO team in support of the mission which is to really to engage the community in finding solutions, developing ideas to achieve our collective vision for an equitable safe and really inclusive city with real meaningful opportunities for everyone,'" said Pine.
Mayor Weinberger plans to put Pine’s appointment before the city council for confirmation on Monday.
“I’ve been in consultation with President Tracy and he is aware that this is coming for Monday’s agenda," the mayor said. "And I believe Councilor Pine has talked to all city councilors and I believe there’s strong support for this confirmation.”
Weinberger says the city charter requires that if Pine is confirmed he must immediately resign the council seat.
“If that happens I would quickly then call a special election for the voters of Ward 3 and that that election would take place within 90 days of the vacancy," Weinberger said. "Which means that the plan currently, and again this wouldn’t be official until all of these steps happen but, it would probably be an election on August 17th which is the Tuesday before the end of that 90-day window.”
The CEDO position opened when Luke McGowan left earlier this year to join the Biden administration.