Thursday, April 16, 2020 - 1:08pm

We made it through an election during a pandemic! It was certainly not an election I would have chosen to hold, but despite the risks, thousands of area residents exercised their right to vote. And, hundreds of others volunteered to work to make sure those ballots counted, before the election, on Election Day, and of course, this past week when the final count was completed. I hope we never have to endure another challenge like this, but I remain incredibly grateful for everyone who helped to make is as successful as it was.
As the pandemic continues, we continue to work to protect and support our community. Below are some updates with important information for you.
PUBLIC HEALTH
There are over 350 positive tests for the coronavirus in Dane County and more than a dozen deaths. We continue to look to Public Health Madison & Dane County for leadership and professional advice. You can continue to monitor their developments and recommendations here. Public Health has a great data dashboard that can be seen here and is updated twice daily. You can also see past news releases on the Public Health news page.
When you leave home, assume that you will come into contact with COVID-19. Stay home so you don’t increase your likelihood of getting sick, and you reduce the risk of getting others sick too. All community members should be monitoring themselves for symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat) and isolating themselves from others as soon as they develop these symptoms. Our fact sheet pdf has more information.
FOOD ACCESS AND DISTRIBUTION
During this public health emergency, the City of Madison is focused on making sure our most vulnerable residents continue to have reliable access to food. City staff have been working diligently to organize, collaborate, and communicate with various food resource providers across sectors and geographies to ensure that efforts to maintain food provisions are synchronized, informed and efficient. We are doing our part to identify the needs and concerns of providers and residents and are constantly analyzing and assessing our capabilities to support our residents.
Please refer to the City of Madison’s COVID-19 Food Resources page for more information and additional resources: https://www.cityofmadison.com/health-safety/coronavirus/food-resources
If you are interested in growing food, consider a community garden! The Gardens Network, a collaboration of the City of Madison, UW-Madison Extension Dane County, and Rooted provides support to new and existing gardeners. The Gardens Network website contains a list of community gardens in the Madison area. There are over 40 acres of community gardens in Dane County, many with plots still available. Now is the time to sign up for an individual garden plot. On the website you can also find general gardening advice and more detailed safety recommendations for organizers and gardeners. Rooted is working with Public Health Madison & Dane County and other partners to ensure gardens are adequately prepared to carry out these recommendations.
TRANSPORTATION
As an essential service, Metro Transit has continued to operate during the Safer-at-Home order. I am grateful to the transit operators, mechanics and service lane workers who come to work so that Madison’s transit-dependent residents can get to essential jobs, medical appointments and grocery stores. A focus on the safety of our employees and passengers led us to reduce capacity on buses to provide room for social distancing; and, restrict boarding and exiting to the rear doors to minimize the contact between drivers and passengers.
Metro Transit continues providing a reduced service. The service reduction has allowed Metro to redeploy transit operators to bus cleaning and all assigned buses are now being fogged or wiped down every night. Drivers and passengers are climbing into a cleaned bus each day. We’ve been able to reduce the number of operators interacting with the public on any given day and schedule buses so that no more than one driver is driving a particular bus on any given day.
Today we celebrate Get On Board Day as we express our appreciation for mass transit employees. During this pandemic though, I encourage you to wave from the window or sidewalk as a Metro Transit bus passes by. We are asking that only those who really need to ride the bus do so for essential trips as we work to keep both riders and staff healthy.
ECONOMIC IMPACTS
Our economy and our business community have been hit hard by this pandemic and the necessary public health response. We’re doing what we can to ease the burden, and connect our local businesses to resources. If you’re a business owner, please make sure you check out the City of Madison COVID-19 resources for business: https://www.cityofmadison.com/dpced/economicdevelopment/business-information-covid-19/173/ and the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce COVID-19 resources: https://madisonbiz.com/covid19/. Dane County is partnering with Dane Buy Local Grants - you can apply for these grants here.
The City has started processing refunds to restaurants and retailers for their sidewalk café, merchant vending, and street vending fees for the upcoming 2020/2021 vending and sidewalk café season. We’re also looking at a number of other fees and fines to see what we can waive.
If you missed the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce Lunch(UP)Date on the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Plan you can view it here. Eric Ness, the top-ranking official for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) in Wisconsin, addressed federal relief efforts underway for small businesses during today's Lunch(UP)date, the Chamber's new virtual meeting helping you stay connected, curious and informed.
I am asking all businesses with the capacity to produce cloth face coverings and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to consider manufacturing these products. First responders, healthcare professionals, and the general public is in great need of this equipment, and anything we can do locally to help manufacture these materials will benefit all of us. Additional information for business is available at the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership website (www.wmep.org ). You may also contact the City’s Office of Business Resources for more information at obr@cityofmadison.com or 608-267-8737.
And as if one disease wasn’t enough to cope with, any business that has closed your facility or have low occupancy needs to take precautions against Legionnaires disease. A reduction in water usage can be a contributing factor to Legionella growth. It is important for you to take steps now and prior to reopening to prevent the growth of Legionella in your establishment. Legionella is a bacteria that causes respiratory diseases such as Legionnaire’s disease and Pontiac fever. See DHS website for more information on Legionella here. It is important to continue maintaining your building water systems to prevent the growth of Legionella, as it can grow within many parts of a building’s plumbing system.
MADISON PARKS
Despite the state parks being closed, Madison Parks remain open for people to walk, jog and connect with nature! Parks staff are working to keep them safe, clean and open for visitors. Spring clean-up and trash collection in parks is ongoing and soon staff will commence mowing operations. Now that dogs are allowed in the majority of the parks in the system, the Rangers are working to educate owners on proper park etiquette. Golf staff are maintaining the courses so they are in the best possible condition for opening. The planting season has begun! Olbrich Gardens is preparing the gardens for the coming growing season, spring flowers will be installed at on State Street in the coming days and tree planting has started in the parks. Be sure to get out and enjoy your local park, just be sure to play it safe and stay off the playgrounds and sport courts and honor physical distancing.
HOMELESS ISSUES
Acting rapidly to protect the homeless community and prevent the spread of the virus, the City of Madison and Dane County worked swiftly to launch a concerted effort designed to protect highly vulnerable, unhoused persons during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The effort included four major elements.

  1. Removing families from the Salvation Army’s shelter for women and families to allow more space for single women.
  2. Identifying and moving higher risk persons (those over age 60, those with underlying health conditions or compromised immune systems and pregnant women) out of crowded shelter facilities, where they are at greater risk of exposure to the virus, and into area hotels.
  3. Providing safer accommodations, in a separate setting, to homeless persons identified by, or in consultation with, medical professionals, as exhibiting symptoms (fever, new onset cough, shortness of breath) that are consistent with COVID-19 infection.
  4. Standing up a new overnight shelter for single men at Warner Park to offer safer and less crowded accommodations than what is available in existing shelter facilities.

I want to thank all of you for everything you are doing to keep our community safe and healthy in these trying times. Please keep it up, keep washing your hands, keep staying home, and keep supporting each other while staying physically distant.

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COVID-19