Posted on Monday, Mar. 16, 2020 at 10:52 am
The City of Madison has been working around the clock since before the first Dane County case on February 5th to slow the transmission of the COVID-19 virus and protect our community. We are actively coordinating with school, county, state and federal agencies to respond to the latest information and developments.
My priorities are clear: slow the spread of the virus, protect the capacity of the city’s health care system, protect our most vulnerable populations, and continue to deliver essential public services.
Below are brief updates on the status of some of our efforts. Expect more details in the coming days as our incredibly dedicated staff continue to work on these issues.
CONTINUITY OF CITY OPERATIONS
Public health and safety are our top priorities. All city departments have prepared continuity of operations plans and we have an active Emergency Operations Center managing our city-wide response. We are preparing as many staff as possible to work from home. We have reduced the number of in-person staff meetings for employees as well.
Public Health issued a mandatory emergency order on Sunday stopping gatherings of 50 or more people in Dane County, with additional guidance for senior centers, restaurants and theatres. Details of this order can be found here.
SCHOOL CLOSURES, CHILDCARE
We know that with the schools closed, there is additional stress on all families of school-aged children and city staff are working with employees to minimize that disruption while continuing to provide essential city services. We understand the importance of quality childcare in all situations and are working with partners to assist in that crucial service as well.
CITY COUNCIL AND COMMITTEES
I am working with the City Council President, Alder Shiva Bidar, to minimize risk for city employees and committee members. We are working to temporarily cancel nearly all committee meetings, and teleconferencing options will be established. This cannot be done immediately for all boards, commissions and committees so we ask for your patience as we work through this with IT and develop appropriate public notification practices.
MADISON PUBLIC LIBRARIES
We know that people depend on the services available in our public libraries, and so although we are, for the time-being, postponing structured activities there, most libraries are open today and we are working to keep March 16, 2020 Page 2
them clean and promote social distancing. The library board will be meeting on Tuesday to further discuss this situation. We hope patrons who use them to check out books, for early voting, for filling out the census and other purposes will follow best practices for protecting themselves and others from this virus as well.
PEOPLE IMPACTED BY HOMELESSNESS
We have staff working with our partners who care for and provide food and shelter for our homeless to make sure they are prepared and protected.
We are encouraging anyone who is able, to vote early or absentee to avoid congestion at the polls on Election Day, April 7. You can request an absentee ballot before March 18 from the City Clerk’s Office. Early voting is available until April 3. We know that senior citizens are the most vulnerable to this virus and we are moving polling places from facilities where they live and congregate to lessen their exposure to others.
Many Madison households have received their invitations to fill out the census online or over the phone. Please do so! We need everyone to be counted.
I know full well the stress this is putting on local businesses, stores, restaurants, hotels, entertainment venues and others. I am pleased that the Chamber of Commerce and other organizations are working with my staff to be as supportive as possible of workers and local businesses. Because this pandemic will have such a negative impact on the incomes of many families, I call on all landlords to put a moratorium on evictions and non-renewals for anyone impacted by COVID-19.
COORDINATED GOVERNMENT RESPONSE
We are working with our county, state, and federal partners to coordinate our efforts as well as identify additional resources available to us to limit the harmful impact this has on our community.
COVID-19 UPDATES, FAQ & COMMUNITY HOTLINE
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 and visiting the Public Health Madison & Dane County COVID-19 website.
As the number of cases in the United States increase, 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 health care provider first. Another resource is UW Health COVID-19 hotline at 608-720-5300.
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.