Alder Brian Benford
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
WI Relay Service
Alder Benford’s Updates
Covid-19 Update Week of March 23, 2020
Highlights: Only two major city committees will hold meetings this week. At Finance Committee on Monday, a presentation on COVID-19 impact on the city budget COVID-19 impact on 2020 budget and at Board of Public Works Wednesday, approving the path geometry for Garver Path from Sugar Ave to Milwaukee Street (6th and 15th AD) Garver project overview. Many city committees are on pause during the public health emergency. The IT department is setting up our capacity to conduct remote meetings that are publicly accessible but the number will be limited for an unknown period of time. For the short term I don't plan to hold face to face neighborhood meetings about development proposals or license applications and will be strongly urging applicants to delay land use and alcohol license submissions. The city has set up an Emergency Operations team and I will be routing requests for service and your suggestions through this new function. Please continue to contact me. Take care and remember we are all in this together.
City COVID-19 website https://www.cityofmadison.com/health-safety/coronavirus
Madison Metropolitan School District COVID-19 website https://www.madison.k12.wi.us/mmsd-covid-19-updates
Madison Dane County Public Health COVID-19 website https://www.cityofmadison.com/health-safety/coronavirus"
Wisconsin Dept. of Health COVID-19 website https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/index.htm
Center for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 website https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
National Institute for Health COVID-19 website https://www.nih.gov/health-information/coronavirus
COVID-19 Recent News:
-Gov. Tony Evers issued an emergency order 3/22/20 to suspend several utility-related rules. PSC has directed regulated utilities to stop utility disconnection for nonpayment for all customers, including commercial, industrial, and farm accounts, according to a release from Evers' office. Utilities must also stop assessing late fees, stop requiring deposits for reconnection services, allow for deferred payments, and remove barriers for customers establishing or reestablishing utility service. PSC is also authorizing water utilities to provide budget billing arrangements to customers. Electric and natural gas utilities are already allowed to do this. Madison Water Utility is exempting late payment fees until further notice 3/18/20. "We recognize that for many of our customers, this is a time of enormous personal and financial stress, so we are working to do what we can to minimize that stress in the days and weeks ahead. We ask that customers who are still able to pay their Municipal Services Bill on time please continue to do so. Our customer service staff is here to help if you have any questions: email@example.com, Phone: (608) 266-4641 Madison Water Utility never disconnects customers for late payments."
-The US Treasury Department announced 3/20/20 that it will delay filing and income tax payment deadlines to allow both individuals and businesses to have more time to file federal tax returns without paying interest or penalties. This is in addition to the recent announcement of an extension of time to pay to July 15, 2020. It is unclear whether this would be a statutory shift or an administrative easing of requirements to obtain an extension of time to file. Wisconsin has yet to announce whether it will be following extension and federal waiver of interest and penalties. IRS income tax returns and payments due July 15, 2020 Madison City Treasurer is in contact with the state urging action on waiving quarterly real estate taxes late payment fees. The payment process for property taxes, including penalties for late payments, is established in state law. Local taxing jurisdictions, including the City of Madison, cannot change payment dates or waive penalties for late payments without action by the state. "We have been in contact with the state urging action to provide this short-term relief to affected property tax payers in response to this public health and economic emergency."
-Community Development Division update on Emergency Shelter 3/22/20: Hotels for families who were staying at the Salvation Army Family Shelter
In order to achieve much needed social distancing for families and single women, Salvation Army moved all the families who were staying at the family shelter to hotels last week. Single women are still staying at the shelter. 22 family rooms at the shelter will now be mostly used to provide additional protection for vulnerable single women. When a new family contacts to stay at the Salvation Army shelter, diversion services and financial assistance are offered first. Diversion financial assistance funds have been increased and Salvation army has been able to divert several families. As there are limited hotel units available, we have decided that families who can't be diverted will be offered to come into the family shelter facility (if they have not used the shelter in the last month) or offered a hotel unit (if they have used the shelter in the last month). Salvation Army case management staff is actively working with all the families who moved to the hotels. Dane County arranged food catering services for the families at hotels.
Medical hotel units for people needing to self-quarantine or isolate There are hotel beds available for people who have COVID-19 symptoms. We expect most of the referrals come from the hospitals and clinics for people they have tested for the virus. Considering that most people who contact the healthcare are not being tested and told to stay home and rest, we made an exception for certain shelters that cannot designate a separate space for people with symptoms to be able to refer directly to the medical hotel program. The shelters that fit this category have been provided with referral protocol and forms. Referrals are processed by the Salvation Army. Meals are catered to these hotel units as well. We identified the need to check on these individuals and families regularly and are working with volunteers and HSC partners to do that. The city and county are actively working on establishing an alternate site with staffing for people experiencing homelessness and needing self-quarantine or isolation. We will let you know when this gets established.
Hotels for vulnerable population We are identifying individuals who are at higher risk of severe illness who are residing at emergency shelters or on the streets and preemptively moving them to hotels. CDC identifies the following groups of people are at higher risk: older adults, people with severe and chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, and pregnant women. At this point, we are prioritizing people who are in 2+ CDC high risk categories, people who are age 65+, and people who have frequent hospital stays. Our intent is to prioritize and move the most vulnerable first. As we move more people to hotels and more hotel units get secured, we will expand the priority criteria. The initial list was created by running WISP reports for shelters and outreach programs and taking additional outreach provider referrals (for those who are not on WISP). Several providers have been actively involved in this effort by reviewing the list, adding referrals, locating people and providing orientation, and helping them move to hotels. Metro has been providing direct transportation from the Beacon to hotels. As the Salvation Army single women shelter was able to meet the social distancing requirement of 6 feet between persons, we are currently moving people from single men's shelter and people on the streets. So far 33 individuals moved into one hotel, most of them had 2+ conditions (age 60+ and chronic medical conditions). We are hoping to move up to 40 individuals on Monday. People who moved to the hotel will receive three meals prepared by caters and delivered by volunteers to their rooms. Laundry is another basic need that we are working on solving. We are actively working on securing on-site supportive service staffing and regular phone check-ins for people staying at these hotels. If you are concerned about people who are currently at shelter or on the streets and meet the priority criteria (people who are in 2+ CDC high risk categories, people who are age 65+, and people who have frequent hospital stays), the chances are we already identified them on our priority list. But feel free to email their information to Sarah Lim (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will double check that they are on the list.
-Metro update: Starting Monday, March 23, Metro will operate SATURDAY schedules all 7 days of the week.
Saturday service is provided on the following routes only: 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 26, 30, 31, 32, 36, 40, 50, 51, 59, 63, 67, 68, 78.
In addition to the routes listed above, Metro will operate the following routes Monday through Friday only:
Route 23 operates regular weekday schedules to/from Sun Prairie.
Route 72 operates regular weekday schedules to/from Middleton.
The University of Wisconsin Campus Routes 80 and 84 will operate RECESS SERVICE exactly as it normally operates on a recess schedule. Route 80 will run weekday recess service Monday through Friday, and weekend recess service Saturday and Sunday. Routes 81 and 82 will not operate.
Request to riders:
After consultation with Public Health, we have determined that several steps should be taken to reduce the risk of community spread of COVID-19 and increase the ability for riders and employees to follow social distancing guidelines.
- Beginning Wednesday, March 18, 2020, capacity on all Metro Transit fixed-route buses will be limited to 15 passengers plus the driver.
- We ask that Metro Transit be used only for essential trips such as travel to employment, medical appointments, grocery stores, etc.
- Please use alternative forms of transportation if it is available to you.
- Exit the bus through the rear doors.
- Other than brief periods during boarding, you should maintain a distance of 6 feet from the driver and your fellow passengers.
- Practice good respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene
- Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue or a sleeve
- Keep your hands to yourself and be aware of what you touch.
People at High Risk
It is particularly important for riders who are at a high risk of severe illness, including paratransit riders, to avoid public transit. High risk individuals include:
People 60 years or older
People with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes.
People who have a weakened immune system
Women who are pregnant
Metro Transit would like to encourage riders, especially paratransit riders, who are high risk to protect themselves and stay home if possible. If it is essential to travel, please be assured that all paratransit service providers are following proper cleaning protocols to help prevent the spread of the virus.
-City Engineering: There is no such thing as a 'flushable' wipe. The Engineering Division and Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District would like to remind the community that there is no such thing as a "flushable" wipe, even if the manufacturer has labeled it as such. Disinfectant disposable wipes, should not be flushed down the toilet. Instead, throw the wipes away after use. Many residents are using disinfectant disposable wipes to keep their homes clean in a time of COVID-19 home self-quarantine. While many wipes indicate that they are "flushable," and seem similar to toilet paper, they should not be flushed. These products do not break down in the sewer system and can cause blockages in your home's sewer system and in the sanitary sewer system and at the wastewater treatment plant. No such thing as a 'flushable' wipe
-National Institute for Health/NIH update on alternative remedies: The media has reported that some people are seeking "alternative" remedies to prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2 or to treat the 2019 coronavirus disease now called COVID-19. Some of these purported remedies include herbal therapies and teas. There is no scientific evidence that any of these alternative remedies can prevent or cure the illness caused by this virus. In fact, some of them may not be safe to consume. Coronavirus and alternative remedies
-UW Health update on use of NSAIDs like ibuprofen There is information circulating in the media that certain drugs and medications may cause side effects for individuals suspected to have or diagnosed with COVID-19. UW Health recommends: Patients who rely on NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, to treat chronic diseases should not stop taking them without talking to their provider. UW Health on use of NSAIDs
-City of Madison to Offer Curbside Voting 3/19/20
The City of Madison has reserved four parking spots on Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. outside the City-County Building and the Madison Municipal Building for curbside voting starting Friday, March 20th. Voters who are high-risk for COVID-19 can register to vote and/or cast their ballot from their vehicle. High-risk populations include older adults and people with chronic health conditions. Curbside voting will be offered 8:00am - 6:00pm, Monday - Friday, March 20th - April 3rd. Signs will be posted at each of the designated stalls prompting voters who need to use the curbside voting option to call the City Clerk's Office. A pair of election officials will be sent out to the voter's vehicle to assist the voter in registering (if needed) and voting. The City Clerk's Office is offering this option to those voters who are at high-risk for the virus COVID-19. For those not at high risk, in-person absentee voting is available in the Clerk's Office, City-County Building, Room 103, and in the Madison Municipal Building, Room 153. More sites may be added over the coming days; please keep an eye on the City Clerk's in-person absentee voting page for the most up-to-date information.
-Gov. Tony Evers request to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance was approved 3/20 for small Wisconsin businesses and private, non-profit organizations to help alleviate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. Read the letter. SBA announcement https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/Declarations/ViewDisasterDocument/3525 Press Release/Blog: Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway's Statement on Local Business with Regards to COVID-19
FAQs about unemployment during COVID-19 crisis Unfortunately many workers in the gig economy are not considered wage employees and therefore not eligible for unemployment. There are local initiatives to help restaurant and upside down workers through this perilous time.
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