Social distancing matters. Here is how to do it and how it can help curb the COVID-19 pandemic. USA TODAY
People set up a public handwashing station in a downtown Burlington parking garage in response to the new coronavirus. It only lasted a few days.
Jeff Padgett, interim assistant director for parking and traffic with the Department of Public Works, said the city removed a “55-gallon drum of liquid” labeled with a black marker as a hand-washing station.
There was a lot uncertainty surrounding the container, including the quality of the liquid, Pladgett said. “There was no indication of who put it there.”
The department hired a hazardous waste firm to remove the drum the week of April 13 from the Marketplace Garage.
Burlington has responded to the COVID-19 outbreak in a number of ways, including a project project to increase space for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as an effort to provide masks to residents.
COVID-19 is the official name of the disease related to the new coronavirus that first started to affect people at the end of 2019.
Where Burlington’s COVID-19 handwashing station came from
Brian Hsiang of Essex couldn’t sleep one night when he started to think about how he could act in the face of the coronavirus. He found a design online for remote handwashing stations that can operate without power, contain a reservoir of clean water and collect excess water.
“It’d be great to have them around just for people to be able to wash their hands from a broader public health standpoint,” he said. “But, you know, the original thought was to try to make some handwashing stations for homeless folks.”
Washing hands with soap and water is recommended as one of the major ways to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Hsiang fronted the money and assembled the station.
Sam Bliss of Burlington and his partner, who works with Hsiang, helped transport the station.
“I was pretty frustrated,” Bliss said upon hearing of its removal. “It was really clear that it was a handwashing station and when I talked to DPW they said that they didn’t know what it was.”
Bliss said his conversation with Padgett was not antagonistic.
On Padgett’s end, he felt sincerity in the sentiment behind the station, but wanted to reiterate the effort needed to be coordinated in a safe manner.
Hsiang also was disappointed when he learned the city removed the device, but said he understood Burlington is doing the best it can. He’s connecting with the city to learn more about its concerns and to see if there’s anything he can do, like changing the design.
“My big dream would be that, like, it would be something that people could make and then put in their front lawns or something like that,” he said, without it giving rise to worry.
Hsiang and Bliss are also considering different avenues, like churches, to see if they would be interested in housing a handwashing station for the public.
Contact Maleeha Syed at email@example.com or 802-495-6595. Follow her on Twitter @MaleehaSyed89.
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