Vt. City, a ‘Haven of Good Nature,' Shows Care for Those in Quarantine

Burlington is providing care packages and daily check-ins for people quarantining at home in the city

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Vermont's largest city is using care packages and daily check-ins to support people quarantining under the state's travel rules, in an effort to keep the spread of COVID-19 low.

For people traveling very long distances or those who are coming from areas with high levels of coronavirus transmissions, guidance from Vermont state officials has them quarantining for either 14 days or for seven, then obtaining a negative test for the virus.

"It's very monotonous," said Tiana Lee, who is quarantining at home. "The days just kind of blur together."

Lee is a University of Vermont senior who returned to Burlington from Idaho for the start of the academic year.

During her time quarantining, the city of Burlington's Resource and Recovery Center and Graham Peterson have her back.

Peterson puts together care packages, complete with masks, hand sanitizer, cookies, and a library card that allows access to e-books, streaming video, and music. He then delivers them to people who register with the center.

The project has a simple goal: to support people in quarantine so they stick with it in hopes of protecting public health.

"We do have a small, tight-knit community that kind of encourages this care-for-your-neighbor type thing," Peterson observed of Burlington. "It's this kind of little haven of good nature."

Along with those care packages, city employees are checking in with folks in quarantine every day. They're asking how they're doing, if they have any questions, and if they need any errands run—like trips to the pharmacy or grocery store, if a friend cannot help out.

Peterson said he recently was asked to go purchase bed sheets for someone whose home delivery of sheets hadn't come the day it was expected.

"We know it's hard to do it," Mayor Miro Weinberger, D-Burlington, said of quarantining for a minimum of seven days. "And we want to help you problem-solve. We want you to get through this challenging period, and do your part to keep the community safe by making sure the virus does not spread."

The support program isn't just for college students, but for anyone returning to or moving to Burlington who needs to comply with the governor's travel orders. It also could serve residents who have been asked to stay inside because contact tracers think they might've been exposed to someone who has the virus.

People in quarantine learn about the support program through fliers that come with food orders from certain restaurants, postings on the city website, and communications from UVM and Champlain College to their students, according to the mayor's office. Posters are also hanging throughout the city.

The city is funding the work with emergency money but is documenting expenditures and hopes to get federal reimbursement for costs, according to Zach Williamson of the Burlington Resource & Recovery Center.

Williamson, as well as Peterson, usually work for Burlington City Arts, but their jobs as city cultural event organizers had to be put on pause during the pandemic due to limits on social gatherings.

As for Tiana Lee, she's eligible for a food delivery gift card after four days in quarantine—another way Burlington's encouraging folks to protect their neighbors from possible sickness.

"There's not a lot one person can do, but if everybody makes sure that they're doing what they need to, then that's how we're going to be safe," the student observed.

For more information on visiting Vermont from out of state, check out the website of the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development.

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