Monday, March 30, 2020 - 3:54pm

Staff from the City of Madison are continuing to partner with Public Health, Madison & Dane County (PHMDC), as well as the County Executive’s office, local schools, the State of Wisconsin and federal agencies to “flatten the curve,” protect the public and lessen the effects of this pandemic on our health, our workers and our economy. With our partners, we are intent on stopping the spread of COVID-19, and preserving the hospital capacity to care for the most ill.

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. Local participation in our government remains a priority even during a pandemic.
Other updates:

PUBLIC HEALTH
There will soon be over 200 positive tests for the coronavirus in Dane County. 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.

  • On March 27, 2020, I issued a news release acknowledging that our community has hit a critical point in our response to COVID-19 and will face more challenges given the evidence of community spread. I am urging members of the community to immediately take further steps to reduce their travel and in-person interactions. Public Health has a new tool that is a useful way to share dates 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 .

EARLY VOTING
We are encouraging anyone who is able, to vote early or vote absentee to avoid lines at the polls on Election Day, April 7. You can register to vote online through close of business today at myvotewi.gov. You can request an absentee ballot before April 2nd from the City Clerk’s Office. Early voting is available until April 3. We have moved to curbside early voting only on Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. Monday through Friday. People can vote without leaving their vehicles.We are continuing to plan for Election Day on April 7th, but please be aware there are multiple lawsuits with regard to this issue and there may be changes if you are planning to vote at your local polling place. Our City Clerk is working to consolidate polling places and we could experience a problem finding local residents able to, and interested in, working at the polls that day. You will also be able to vote from the safety of your vehicle on Election Day.

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 completed its first week of 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

2020 CENSUS
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 1, 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.

ECONOMIC IMPACT
As many of our community's immediate needs are reliant upon the state and federal governments, the City of Madison continues to partner with the County and other municipalities across the state to advocate at the state and federal levels for a wide range of resources in support of our greater community. We thank Governor Evers for his moratorium on evictions and foreclosures in addition to utility shutoffs. Further, we are advocating for a change in state law that allows for deferred property tax payments for property owners of residential and commercial properties.
On Tuesday, March 31, the City of Madison Common Council will vote on a City of Madison Declaration of Emergency. The goal of this declaration is to allow procedural flexibility to expedite City processes so the City is able to be nimble and responsive to the growing crisis in addition to ensuring that members of our community are eligible for federal and state resources that become available.

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. As of 3/29, we have placed about 270 people into 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 prepared to provide much needed space for overnight shelter for homeless men. These men will be safely bussed by dedicated Metro Transit drivers to the center in the evening and back to The Beacon in the morning. They will be served dinner and breakfast and the center will be staffed by our partners at Porchlight. This facility will allow the men to maintain social distancing throughout the night, something that was very difficult to accomplish in other facilities.
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

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 health care 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. https://www.publichealthmdc.com/documents/How%20to%20Prepare%20for%20Coronavirus.pdf
See our page What to Do if You're Sick or Possibly Exposed for more information.
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.

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COVID-19