June 17, 2020
Published on the first Monday of each month by Bob Yates, Boulder City Council
Note: The Boulder Bulletin is published monthly on the first Monday of each month. However, a special weekly issue of the Bulletin was also published each Wednesday during the peak of the COVID crisis. This will be the last of those special issues. The next regular monthly edition will be published on Monday, July 6.

What we've learned
By Bob Yates
Before COVID, the Boulder Bulletin was published monthly on the first Monday of each month. But, by mid-March, events were unfolding so rapidly that I added a special weekly COVID edition of the Bulletin on Wednesdays. In the three months since then, 13 special weekly editions of the Bulletin have been published, each dealing with an aspect of our disrupted lives, from public health warnings, to government orders, to economic impacts, to innovative solutions. With the relative easing of the health crisis, and the beginning of the long, slow economic recovery, this 14th special weekly COVID edition of the Bulletin will be the last one. Of course, the Bulletin still will be published monthly, as it has for the last four years, addressing city policies and community engagement.
The end of the weekly COVID edition of the Bulletin is a good time to look back over the last three months and reflect on insights we have gained, how we have changed, and what our future might hold. Here are six lessons I think we’ve learned: 
Lesson 1: Local governments can respond quickly

As I re-read the first special COVID edition of the Bulletin, published on March 18 as the crisis was just starting to become apparent, I am reminded of how quickly things were evolving back then. The rapid response of local government was dizzying. On Friday, March 13, when there were fewer than a dozen confirmed COVID cases in the county, and no reported deaths, the city closed all libraries, recreation centers, and senior centers, and cancelled the meetings of all city boards, except city council. On Saturday, March 14, the city manager declared a local disaster emergency, providing the city the tools necessary to protect public health and safety and apply for state and federal aid. On Sunday, March 15, the city closed all municipal buildings and sent home all city employees whose jobs allowed them to work remotely. On the morning of Monday, March 16, the city manager issued an order banning gatherings on any public property of more than 20 people, soon reduced to gatherings of 10 or more. On the evening of Monday, March 16, city council held an emergency special meeting to ratify the city manager’s actions and to extend her authority. That night, city council was prepared to impose a city ban on restaurants, bars, theaters, and gyms, but the governor issued such an order statewide 30 minutes before city council met. 

All of these actions were taken with the guidance and advice of our public health experts at Boulder County Public Health and Boulder Community Hospital. Boulder County Public Health executive director Jeff Zayach and hospital CEO Dr. Rob Vissers briefed city council and the community at weekly council meetings in March, April, and May. They taught us new phrases, like “social distancing” and “flatten the curve.” They reassured us that the hospital had sufficient space, supplies, equipment, and personnel to address demand for critical health care services. To make space for potential increases in critically-ill patients, elective care and surgeries at the hospital were postponed, and the hospital and Boulder County Public Health were prepared to activate well-established service expansion plans and protocols. Much of it never became necessary. We hope that it never will. 
Lesson 2: Communication is essential
In a crisis, information is gold. As things were shutting down in mid-March, the city staff quickly stood up a webpage containing essential information, including health guidance, resources for economic assistance, and answers to the community’s most frequently-asked questions. The city’s webpage received thousands of visits and quickly became the go-to place for information about the health and economic crisis, providing relevant, authoritative, and accurate facts in a world where those are often hard to come by. By the end of March and throughout April, the city’s work to communicate with the community was joined by the Boulder Chamber and dozens of nonprofits, using websites, social media, and traditional press to help people learn how to keep themselves safe, when to seek medical care, where to get food or financial assistance, when to seek relief from landlords and lenders, how to apply for unemployment or receive a business loan, and how to help others in need. 
As things became less frantic in May and we prepared to settle in for the long, slow recovery, we began to take stock of how we felt and where we were headed. Surveys were taken and published, reporting on the community’s compliance with public health guidance and comfort with cautiously returning to some semblance of pre-COVID life. By the end of that month, a majority of community members said that, while they continued to be concerned about becoming infected, they were willing to come out of their homes and engage in commerce and limited social activities, if they saw others respecting public health guidance. If the Daily Camera is a barometer for the community’s need for information on a subject, it’s interesting to observe that fewer than half of the newspaper’s front-page stories over the last week have been devoted to COVID or its impacts. We now seem to understand what we’re facing and, more or less, how to deal with it. 
Lesson 3: A strong community helps those in need

The wealth of a city is not measured by what it has, but by what it gives. By that metric, our community is full of riches. Even as the scope of the health crisis was just beginning to be understood in mid-March, our nonprofit and... Read more ☞
Our spirit's been bruised, but never broken
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Next regular monthly issue July 6

Council Meetings & Study Sessions

Unless otherwise noted, all council meetings and study sessions and other meetings begin at 6:00 at City Council Chambers, second floor, 1777 Broadway. Information current as of first Monday of the month, but subject to change.

View agendas here.

Tuesday, June 23 and Tuesday, June 30: No Council Meetings 
Summer break

Tuesday, July 7: Regular Council Meeting 
COVID briefing; Dockless bike share; Muni update

Tuesday, July 14: Study Session 
Homelessness strategy; financial update

Contact Bob 
Voice Message: 720.310.5829
Office: 1777 Broadway, Boulder (email in advance for appointment)
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