Health Care

Weinberger has ‘deep concern’ about Burlington Health & Rehab COVID-19 outbreak

Mayor Miro Weinberger said he is worried about a coronavirus outbreak at Burlington Health and Rehab. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

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Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger expressed “deep concern” Friday about the coronavirus outbreak at the Burlington Health & Rehab Center, noting there were “significantly more” patients and health care workers showing symptoms at the center than the five confirmed positive tests. 

A resident in her 80s who lived at the center died from the illness Thursday.  

Weinberger said that during a call with state officials Friday morning, he requested that all symptomatic patients and health care workers at the facility be tested, which Health Commissioner Mark Levine confirmed was happening. Weinberger said he also requested assurance from the state and the rehab center that the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was being followed at the facility. 

He said he was most concerned about ensuring that those with the virus and suspected to have the virus were being isolated. Weinberger said Levine told him the center was “working toward” the isolation of infected and suspected infected patients, and Weinberger asked for confirmation when that had been achieved. 

Weinberger said he also asked Levine if any of the health care workers who were showing symptoms had worked in other health care facilities. Levine said he would get back to Weinberger with an answer, the mayor said. 

As the city’s restaurants and bars closed this week and residents were encouraged to practice social distancing, the city’s parks have been well-utilized, Weinberger said. But he said people should be mindful and keep a distance of at least 6 feet apart to prevent the spread of the virus.

“We’re seeing people outside, and that’s a good thing,” he said. “We are concerned about some of the activity we have seen in the parks.” 

The city is worried about people playing basketball, congregating in large groups and using playground equipment that could be a vector to spread the disease. The city is installing new signs barring those kinds of activities in the parks, and will be monitoring parks this week to ensure those rules are followed. 

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Weinberger said he had reached out to Gov. Phil Scott about the possibility of ordering the closure of movie theaters, gyms, recreation facilities and other businesses where social distancing is not possible. 

Scott issued a new order closing businesses including exercise facilities, hair salons and others Saturday morning. He also restricted gathering sizes to no more than 10 people. 

The City Council will consider a resolution Monday to address the crisis, Weinberger said. This resolution would adjust the city’s employee leave policy and establish a Burlington Resources and Recovery Center to help residents access federal, state and city resources. 

The resolution will also explore fee, penalty and tax waivers and extensions and attempt to address the upcoming “significant” reduction in city revenues, Weinberger said. 

Weinberger said the city is also working with the Department for Children and Families to expand the motel voucher program to provide housing to homeless residents in hotels and motels and ensure that social distancing can happen in shelters.  

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Aidan Quigley

About Aidan

Aidan Quigley is VTDigger's Burlington and Chittenden County reporter. He most recently was a business intern at the Dallas Morning News and has also interned for Newsweek, Politico, the Christian Science Monitor and the Republican-American newspaper in Waterbury, Connecticut. He is a 2018 graduate of Ithaca College, where he served as the editor-in-chief of The Ithacan, the student newspaper. He is a native of Trumbull, Connecticut.

Email: [email protected]

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Kay Trudell

Please add prayer for these people to all the medical steps being taken to protect them. It can’t hurt. Millions of Americans are indeed praying for the eradication of this virus.

thom stines

An average of Over 1,700 deaths from the common flu every single day of 2018.
An average of Over 136,000 new cases of the common flu every single day of 2018.

There may be reason for extra caution & vigilence regarding covid-19, but the numbers aren’t even close to the threat from the common flu.

Imagine if the govt and media reported the illnesses & deaths from the common flu with the same extreme over-reactionism as they are c-19.

Reality & common sense are not jiving with this c-19 mass freakout.

Something just isn’t making sense in this narrative.

Carol Auerbach

A well trained nurse puts her patients first. A nursing home administrator puts the corporation first. Too bad that adults in Genesis facilities are not told to have their friends and family where allowed to participate in their care. Vermont has a lot of bad karma. Bad nurses too.

Charlie Lancaster

Can VTDigger publish the morbidity rates for the incidence of other flu and mortality rates over a corresponding period. We need a reference point to make a reasoned comparison of the severity of Covid-19 in Vermont and other states.


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