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Mayor Weinberger Announces New, Targeted Public Health Interventions Against Covid-19

Mayor Implements Vaccination and Masking Policies for All City of Burlington Employees and Directs City Health Officer to visit Skilled Nursing Facilities

Burlington, VT – Today, Mayor Miro Weinberger announced several, targeted public health interventions against Covid-19 including requirements for all City employees to mask when interacting with members of the public indoors and to either be vaccinated or submit to regular Covid-19 testing. The Mayor also addressed concerns about protecting residents of Burlington’s skilled nursing facilities, and has directed the City’s Health Officer Bill Ward to visit these facilities to observe current protocols.

Mayor Weinberger said, “The science is clear, the Covid vaccines in use in the United States are safe and powerfully effective at reducing the spread and serious illness caused by Covid-19. I urge employers in Burlington to do what they can with the tools they have to bring our community-wide vaccination rates even higher by joining the City team and a growing number of public and private organizations who are requiring employee vaccinations or testing.”

The city’s vaccination policy requires all employees to either receive the Covid-19 vaccination or receive weekly testing. The indoor mask policy requires all employees to wear a mask indoors when interacting with members of the public on official City business, regardless of vaccination status, until transmission levels in Chittenden County have returned to moderate levels as defined by the CDC. The vaccination policy is available here, and the mask policy is available here.

In making these decisions, the Administration reviewed recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Vermont Department of Health, and consulted repeatedly with the leaders of our municipal employee unions.

The Mayor also announced a series of steps that he has taken in recent weeks to ensure the safety of residents of Burlington’s Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF) as the Delta variant has been circulating and concerns about waning effectiveness of vaccines among the elderly and immunocompromised has grown. In August, the Mayor has:

· Convened an urgent special meeting of the City’s senior provider working group to discuss the Delta variant and employee vaccinations.

· Engaged in multiple direct calls with the Vermont Department of Health elevating the issue of employee vaccinations in SNFs.

· Released a public statement on August 6th to focus public attention on this urgent issue.

· Sent a communication to Burlington’s three SNFs on August 11th encouraging them to mandate vaccinations for all employees.

· Directed the City’s Health Officer, William Ward, to observe operations at the three SNFs on August 20 to ensure that proper Covid precautions were in place. Ward found that all three facilities have strong procedures in place for visitors and indoor masking, and are requiring all employees that are not vaccinated to be tested weekly, and are making plans to meet President Biden’s new vaccine requirements for employees in September.

The Mayor says that the City will continue its direct partnership with senior providers and will work to ensure that long-term care facilities in the City have support in complying with new federal requirements.

“In recent weeks I have worked to raise and address concerns about the growing risks to our vulnerable, elderly residents of Burlington Skilled Nursing Facilities where we have already experienced too much tragedy during this pandemic,” said Mayor Weinberger. “The City’s site visits to Burlington’s three SNFs have reassured me that great care is being taken to protect those facilities during this period of high virus transmission. The City will continue to support our senior service providers in doing all they can to prevent avoidable deaths. I want the families of elderly residents in Burlington facilities to know that we will continue working to keep your loved ones safe."

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