Mayor Rhodes-Conway Update on COVID-19
As I write this message, I am heartened that Governor Evers has issued an Executive Order delaying our election, but along with you, I await the next ruling from the courts before I breathe easy. We will be working to determine the best way to proceed with our election, but if you still need to submit your absentee ballot, please mail it or use the Book Drop Box at either the Pinney, Sequoia or Central Library.
I continue to be humbled by the hundreds of people - staff from the City Clerk’s office, staff from other departments throughout City government, and volunteers from the general public- who have worked for weeks to ensure that we have a fair and safe election; to them I am grateful.
This may be an ever-changing situation so please work to stay informed. If you have already voted, rest assured your ballot will be counted.
We continue to partner with Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC) as well as other local units of government including Dane County, local schools and the State of Wisconsin. I implore you to follow the Governor’s Safer-at-Home guidelines so we can slow and eventually stop the spread of COVID-19. Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, and keep 6 feet between you when you go out.
I am also committed to protecting city workers so that we can provide essential services for our residents. City staff have been amazing during this trying time, innovating new ways of providing services safely for our workers and the public. The city workforce is committed to serving residents and many have shifted from their traditional work to assist departments in need of additional staff. We are also working to hold City Council and committee meetings while following the Open Meetings law. The Madison Common Council held their first remote meeting last week, and technically, it went smoothly. Local participation in our government remains a priority even during a pandemic.
There are over 250 positive tests for the coronavirus in Dane County and several 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. In the meantime, follow these PHMDC guidelines.
- I continue to ask members of the community to reduce their travel and in-person interactions. Public Health has a new tool that is a useful way to share data on many issues regarding this pandemic. That dashboard 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.
- If you go out for exercise, remember to practice social distancing if you see others. To learn more about opportunities at City Parks in Madison, look here.
We encourage you to stay up-to-date on this issue by following Public Health on Twitter @PublicHealthMDC and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/publichealthmdc .
We know the economic impact of this pandemic is severe and will continue for some time. My heart goes out to those who have already lost their jobs and to their families. The City is an enthusiastic partner with business groups throughout the area. Some of the details are below.
- On Thursday, the Mayor joined the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce for a Lunch (UP) date discussion about the City’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. A link to the discussion can be found here: https://agreatermadison.wistia.com/medias/zeo9spyue4
- The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce continues to host the most comprehensive list of business resources available in the community; this information is available to all business and can be found here: https://madisonbiz.com/covid19/.
- All Madison businesses should research whether or not they qualify for the new Federal SBA Paycheck Protection Program, with more information available here: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program-ppp.
- Dane County, in partnership with Dane Buy Local, is taking applications for grants for small businesses in Dane County experiencing financial difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Restaurant workers may now qualify for financial assistance through the National Restaurant Association; additional information is available here: https://rerf.us/.
- Kiva Greater Madison has 0% interest/no-fee loans available for Madison businesses: http://www.kivaushub.org/madison
- All on-street meters, residential permit-only restrictions, 1-hour and 2-hour time-limit restrictions in non-metered areas, and street sweeping (Clean Streets-Clean Lakes Program) parking restrictions are temporarily suspended through Sunday, April 26, unless otherwise noticed. This order amends the previous notice which was scheduled to expire April 6, and expands the suspension of on-street parking restrictions to include street sweeping (Clean Streets-Clean Lakes Program) restrictions, including on Thursday and Friday mornings downtown.
- Please email the City of Madison’s Office of Business Resources with business questions and concerns during this time at email@example.com
PEOPLE IMPACTED BY HOMELESSNESS
The City and County are collaborating to protect residents that are without housing, most of whom are served through the shelter system. We continue to house at-risk individuals, currently just over 300, including women and children in local hotels, removing them from the shelter system and reducing their exposure to risk of transmission. On another front, we are taking steps to expand shelter capacity at additional locations to provide room for greater physical separation and safer environments for shelter users. The Warner Park Community Center is being used as an overnight shelter for homeless men. This facility allows for greater distance between the individuals as they sleep. The Center is staffed by our partners at Porchlight. The men are fed dinner and breakfast and are safely bussed by dedicated Metro Transit drivers to the center in the evening and back to The Beacon in the morning. You can read more about this on my blog here. https://www.cityofmadison.com/mayor/blog/mayor-rhodes-conways-statement-regarding-covid-19-and-protecting-the-homeless
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
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.
MADISON PUBLIC LIBRARY
All Madison public libraries are closed. Book drops are locked and customers should keep library materials until libraries reopen. Due dates of checked-out materials will be extended, and holds will be retained at libraries until libraries reopen. The library's databases, online magazines and newspapers and downloadable audiobook and eBook collections are also accessible 24/7 with a library card. Don't have a library card? Now you can get one online! Looking for things to do? Starting April 1, the library will be hosting online programs and recommending other "do at-home" activities for adults and kids & families at the Library @ Home web page.
The 2020 Census is here and our participation continues to be crucial. As we practice social distancing, please take the opportunity to complete the census now, from the comfort of your home. It is critical that all Madison residents are counted. The Census has postponed field operations until April 14, so there is still time to apply for a good paying temporary Census job. Census data determines how more than $675 billion in federal funds are distributed to communities across the country for healthcare, affordable housing, childcare, education, transportation, and more. That’s over $2,000 per person for Madison and Dane County every year. You can fill it out online at my2020census.gov, by phone, or by mail – all without having to meet a census taker.
IF YOU ARE UNWELL
As the number of cases in the United States increases, there is an increased focus on providing accurate information to community members with questions about COVID-19. If you have questions about COVID-19 or are considering being seen for possible COVID-19 at a clinic, urgent care, or the emergency department, please call your healthcare provider first. Another resource is UW Health COVID-19 hotline at 608-720-5300. If your symptoms are too severe to be managed at home, call 911 or call ahead to the emergency department.
For families, below are strategies to help prevent the spread of disease. Our fact sheet PDF has additional tips to help you prepare.
See our page What to Do if You're Sick or Possibly Exposed for more information.
I know that we are all feeling the day-to-day difficulties of this pandemic, but we need to stay the course. Stay inside to protect yourself and others. As we progress through this very challenging time, I appreciate your support and understanding. Working together, we are doing our best to protect our most vulnerable, our families, our workers and our community.
- Katie Crawley, 608-335-7071