COVID-19 Resources For Our Towns

Last updated March 25, 2020.

The Vermont Department of Health (VDH) provides “Health Department Daily Updates” to town officials, and the VDH is the official state resource for pandemic preparations, recommendations and management. The VDH district service areas don’t align with regional planning commission boundaries, so you can determine your local district VDH office by clicking here. The VDH website contains guidance and answers to frequently asked questions. 

Official online resources:

Vermont Department of Health website: https://www.healthvermont.gov/response/infectious-disease/2019-novel-coronavirus
CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html


v.1, compiled March 31, 2020
A summary of the most recent information relevant to Windham Region towns, in one document, updated as needed.

  

Regional Awareness Conference Calls for Towns during Covid-19 Pandemic 

For information about these calls, including conference call notes, click here

 

COVID-19 Federal Emergency Disaster Declaration: What It Means for Towns & Non-profits

Vermont Emergency Management (VEM) has announced the COVID-19 Federal Emergency Disaster Declaration and availability of funding to municipalities, as well as private non-profits. That announcement is here. Please take the time to read it carefully, noting the second to last paragraph.

What does it mean?

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the President declared a national emergency (https://www.fema.gov/disaster/3437) on 3/13/20. Your municipality will be covered under that emergency, just like if we are having a flood, except this "flooding" will continue. Private non-profits (known as PNPs in FEMAland) MAY also be eligible.

You should become familiar with the FEMA Public Assistance guide. Public assistance is when things like towns assist the public. Category B (emergency protective measures) is the particular part of Public Assistance costs that MAY be recoverable, so you should be documenting those from that date. Remember, there are still rules in disasters so try to procure any item or service properly and document everything (bids, calls, timesheets, invoices, checks, etc.) These costs would typically be reimbursed at 75%, although that reimbursement can take a long time to happen.

What are Category B costs?
Please refer to pages 57-84 of the guide, but as examples they could be extra steps you have taken to protect a facility, or your people, or to warn people, or feed them, or open your Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Additional EPM Guidance from FEMA on COVID-19

What are Private non-profits (PNPs)
PNPs are non-profit organizations that own or operate facilities that provide certain services of a governmental nature. These often include schools, senior centers, food and shelter services, non-profit emergency services, hospitals, nursing homes, etc. Please refer to the guide Eligible PNPs.

(Thanks to Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission for crafting this straight-forward explanation.)   

A Note About Offers of Grant Assistance
VEM has become aware that companies are finding email addresses in the FEMA grants portal for those who have applied for COVID-19 grants funding, and are offering paid services to help with grant paperwork. These services cost money that FEMA may not reimburse.  If you need assistance please reach out to Kim Canarecci with VEM first.  You can also contact WRC's Alyssa Sabetto with any questions you might have (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).  

General questions on the Emergency Declaration can be addressed to Kim Canarecci at VEM or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. at WRC.  

Federal Emergency Disaster Declaration Announcement from Vermont Emergency Management, available here

 

Other Resources

 

Mutual Aid Agreement for Sharing Resources

VLCT has developed this sample Mutual Aid Agreement as a tool to assist towns in entering into agreements with neighboring towns to ensure that a variety of essential functions are fulfilled during hard times.  Consult with your town’s attorney regarding questions about this legal agreement.. You can access the sample agreement on VLCT's website here

 

VLCT Toolkit for Remote Public Meetings 

VLCT developed a toolkit to help municipal officials convene and conduct remote public meetings. The resource documents in the toolkit comply with requirements for meetings of public bodies in accordance with the Governor’s Executive Orders and Legislature’s temporary changes to the Open Meeting Law due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can access the toolkit on VLCT's website here.

 

COVID-19 Information and Support for the Businesses & Economy of the Windham Region

The Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, the regional development corporation for the Windham Region, is coordinating the regional response to the economic impacts of the pandemic. The BDCC has formed the COVID-19 Windham Economic Resiliency Team, which includes the WRC, and is serving as a conduit of information to and from the region’s business community. For more information visit: https://brattleborodevelopment.com/covid-19/

 

Coordination of Volunteers in Response to COVID-19

Volunteer coorination in response to COVID-19 is happening at the state level and regionally. The State of Vermont is looking for volunteers in a variety of areas and professions to help in communities across the State that have been affected by COVID-19. The state's volunteer website directs residents with health care training to register with regional Medical Reserve Corps units. Those teams can supplement local health care providers if hospitals get overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases. Volunteers are also being sought with other skills, among them drivers, food service workers and construction workers. To sign up go to: https://www.vermont.gov/volunteer

The United Way of Windham County* is coordinating volunteer efforts in response to COVID-19. They are doing so through an online platform and volunteer referral system that connects volunteers with volunteer opportunities. To access the portal visit their website: https://www.unitedwaywindham.org/

* if towns, organizations, and volunteers within the Windham Region but outside of Windham County make use of this portal, the United Way will get the information where it needs to go.

 

Internet Connectivity Resources During COVID-19 State of Emergency

The Vermont Department of Public Service has developed a map of libraries, local and state buildings, and schools offering free, open Wi-Fi internet access. They also have information about what cable, telephone, and mobile carriers are doing to assist consumers, including those with low income, and places where consumers can find internet access and be updated as new information becomes available. https://publicservice.vermont.gov/content/new-connectivity-resources-support-you-during-covid-19-state-emergency-vermont

 

Continuity of Operations Plans

Some municipalities have taken steps to address impacts from all hazards by developing Continuity of Operations Plans (COOP). Typical COOPs include items such as: essential functions, essential support activities, lines of succession, delegations of authority, identification of alternate facilities or work locations, communication procedures to stakeholders and staff, essential records and IT networks, and procedures how the plan is tested and exercised.

If you would like more information about Continuity of Operations Planning for a pandemic, please consider reviewing the Federal Emergency Management Agency course Introduction to Continuity of Operations Planning for Pandemic Influenzas. The course also describes strategies for resolving continuity challenges presented in a pandemic situation. Additionally, VEM has a template that municipalities may use/modify as appropriate (available: https://vem.vermont.gov/plans/local Appendix B, B-8 Continuity of Operations Plan).

If you would like more information or assistance in developing a COOP, please contact Alyssa Sabetto at the WRC.

 

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