Madison mayor: City finding innovative ways to provide services amid pandemic

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- Madison's mayor continues to urge community members to follow the governor's "Safer at Home" order, and said city officials are finding innovative ways to keep the community safe.

In a letter to the public Monday, Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said the city continues to partner with Public Health Madison & Dane County for leadership and professional advice to slow and eventually stop the spread of COVID-19.

The mayor also said she is committed to protecting city workers so they can provide essential services for Madison residents.

"City staff have been amazing during this trying time, innovating new ways of providing services safely for our workers and the public," Rhodes-Conway said. "The city workforce is committed to serving residents and many have shifted from their traditional work to assist departments in need of additional staff."

Rhodes-Conway said the city is 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.

In her letter, the mayor also provided the public with an update on several other areas of concern during the pandemic.

Public Health
Rhodes-Conway continues to urge the public to follow guidelines set by Public Health Madison & Dane County and Gov. Tony Evers' "Safer at Home" order, including:

  • Reduce travel and in-person interactions

  • 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.

  • If you go out for exercise, remember to practice social distancing if you see others.

Economic Impact
On Thursday, Rhodes-Conway joined the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce for a discussion about the city's response to the coronavirus pandemic. The chamber has a list of business resources available in the community on its website.

CLICK HERE to watch the discussion

"We know the economic impact of this pandemic is severe and will continue for some time," she said. "My heart goes out to those who have already lost their jobs and to their families."

The mayor said all Madison businesses should research whether or not they qualify for the new Federal SBA Paycheck Protection Program. Dane County, in partnership with Dane Buy Local, is taking applications for grants for small businesses in Dane County, restaurant workers may now qualify for financial assistance through the National Restaurant Association, and Kiva Greater Madison has 0% interest/no-fee loans available for Madison businesses.

Additionally, all on-street meters, residential permit-only restrictions, 1-hour and 2-hour time-limit restrictions in non-metered areas, and street sweeping parking restrictions are temporarily suspended through Sunday, April 26.

People Impacted by Homelessness
Rhodes-Conway said the city and county are working together to expand shelter capacity at additional locations throughout Dane County to provide room for greater physical separation and safer environments for shelter users.

The city continues to house at-risk individuals, more than 300, at local hotels -- removing them from the shelter system and reducing their exposure and risk of transmission. The Warner Park Community Center, in partnership with Porchlight, is being used as an overnight shelter for homeless men to allow for greater distance between individuals as they sleep.

Food Access and Distribution
Rhodes-Conway said the city staff have been working diligently to organize, collaborate, and communicate with various food resource providers to ensure the most vulnerable residents continue to have reliable access to food.

CLICK HERE for the City of Madison's COVID-19 Food Resources page.

TRANSPORTATION
Metro Transit continues to operate on a reduced-service schedule. The service reduction has allowed Metro to redeploy transit operators to bus cleaning, and all assigned buses are now fogged or wiped down every night.

"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," Rhodes-Conway said. "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."

Madison Public Library
All Madison public libraries are closed. 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. You can now get a library card online.

2020 Census
Rhodes-Conway said participation in the 2020 Census is crucial to the Madison community. You can complete the census without leaving your home.

If You are Unwell
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.