The mayor of Vermont’s largest city says the coronavirus pandemic has changed this year’s Green Up Day. WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley has the latest about COVID-19 in Burlington.
Every Wednesday, Democratic Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger invites the head of the state’s largest hospital to his virtual briefing to update city residents on the status of the COVID-19 outbreak. UVM Medical Center President and Chief Operating Officer Dr. Stephen Leffler reported that as of Wednesday the hospital had no COVID patients in the ICU or on ventilators and only one positive in-patient with the infection. He said the hospital is beginning to return to normal procedures. “We’re doing more operative cases now both elective in-patient cases and out-patient cases. And that’s great for our patients who have been waiting. People have been waiting for things they really need to carry on normal life and not be in pain and so we’re very happy we can provide that. And we’re also happy to see more things start to be opened up around the state.”
The hospital relocated 25 rehab patients from its Fanny Allen campus in nearby Colchester this past weekend to the main medical center after staff experienced lightheadedness, headaches, and nausea. “We tested them for COVID. They don’t have COVID. It was only for a sub-set of the staff. No patients. Most staff weren’t affected but we made the decision on Saturday when five people started not feeling well that the smart thing to do is get our patients and staff back over to the medical center while we sort it out. And we’re partnering with the Department of Health, an outside expert and other resources to figure out what’s going on in rehab. All other parts of the building appear completely safe and we’re dealing with the rehab issue and we won’t go back until we’re sure it’s safe for our staff and patients.”
In December 2019 unusual smells and air quality investigations closed operating rooms for over a month at Fanny Allen.
Green Up Day is an annual statewide event in which people go out on the first Saturday in May to clean debris and litter from roadways, sidewalks and culverts. This year it was postponed due to the pandemic. Burlington Director of Parks and Recreation Cindi Wight says it’s happening instead this coming Saturday, May 30th. “It is still a really important time in Vermont and we’ve been doing it now for 50 years for this opportunity clean up our public spaces. But one of the things that’s different about this year is we’re not encouraging large groups to come together. Historically we’ve worked with larger groups to take on certain areas of the city. Instead we’re really focusing on this more as a family activity. Find areas right near your home and try to make them look a lot nicer.”
City officials have approved a number of initiatives to help renters and property owners weather financial stress during the pandemic. Mayor Weinberger announced a policy change regarding a deadline extension for city property taxpayers who will have difficulty making the June 12th payment. “If you would like to defer that payment until August, this is not eliminating the payment there would be two payments that would then be due in August, you can defer payment without penalty or interest payments as you would normally be charged. And we are asking people who would like this benefit to apply for it.”