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Keeping in touch: Notes from the Mayor

Mayor Lucy VinisThis blog aims to nurture our conversation and understanding of the issues before us. Every week, I will provide a weekly update on the activities in the city government, my activities as mayor, and brief reflections on progress, opportunities and challenges. You are invited to respond with reactions, insights and questions. We do this work together.

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Mar 27

March 27, 2020

Posted on March 27, 2020 at 4:03 PM by Elena Domingo

We are five days into the Governor’s Stay Home, Save Lives order. Thanks to all of you for taking care of one another by staying at home.

The past two weeks have been dominated by the city’s emergency response . The details of that response are updated at least daily on the city’s website and Facebook, and I will not devote space on this blog to repeat that information. What I will say is that from my vantage, the city is well-prepared to navigate this pandemic, and we are hopeful that our timely commitment to stay at home and respect essential anti-viral hygiene will soften the impact and rate of infection. I continue to receive emails with urgent requests and concerns and will continue to reply as fully as possible and to share emails with staff who can offer more specific information. Please continue to write to me:

As with the rest of the city and state, I am working from home. The teleconferencing tool, Zoom, is my new best friend, connecting me to colleagues and partners across the city. My son drove home from Michigan last week, and he and I now live parallel lives – using separate bathrooms and cooking areas, and sitting at opposite ends of the table to honor the six foot rule. It is strange, but doable. I am grateful every day to wake up in good health.

With systems of response and staffing now organized, the Manager and I are beginning to look at council’s ongoing work with an eye toward immediate priorities and issues that can withstand a little delay. Council returns for their first meeting on April 8th and we’ll have more definition about our agenda calendar later next week. Staff is also working out the systems for holding virtual meetings as well as virtual public forums and hearings. Stay tuned for more details about those processes.

Our ongoing deep concerns are now deeper. Our local employers and businesses are struggling to stay afloat; our unemployment rate has suddenly skyrocketed; people are worried about being able to retain their housing; property owners are strained with uncertain rental income. The city is investing in both immediate relief and planning for long-term recovery. One of the top priorities in this crisis has been people who are unsheltered. Thankfully, the assessments, coordination and investment in the TAC report built a foundation that enabled the city and county to initiate a strong response – we’ll learn as we go, but more people will be sheltered and more people who are ill will get medical attention.

I am also deeply concerned about harassment and rhetoric targeting Asian Americans. The use of terms like “Chinese Virus” create stigma and deepen the anxiety and trauma for the Asian community. This pandemic is no excuse for racist, xenophobic behavior. We are better than that. This is the intention behind our call to be a city of kindness: to honor the humanity in one another and act out of care for all people. The virus impacts all of us, without regard to race, ethnicity, or country of origin. We have an opportunity to come together in crisis – let’s show the world how it’s done.

Thank you all for your commitment to a healthy community. Take care of yourselves. I look forward to the day when we gather again in person.