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How one Burlington warming shelter is keeping people safe from omicron — and sub-zero temperatures

Angela Evancie
Temperatures this winter have dipped below zero, making life even more dangerous for thousands of Vermonters experiencing homelessness. And more arctic temperatures are on the way.

The past week’s temperatures have dipped below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, making life even more dangerous for thousands of Vermonters experiencing homelessness. And more arctic temperatures are on the way: the National Weather Service in Burlington warns that dangerously cold wind chills are expected tonight through Saturday.

Vermont Edition co-host Connor Cyrus spoke with Paul Dragon, executive director of the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity, to discuss the organization's warming shelter in Burlington.

With more arctic temperatures on the way this weekend, and the contagious omicron variant circulating widely, Dragon said warming shelters are taking extra precautions to keep people safe.

"We try to make sure people have masks on at all times, unless they are eating," he said.

"We do have plastic screens up in certain parts of the community resource center. So we are trying to balance health and safety while making sure people can get out of the elements."

The organization says it will have updated numbers on people experiencing homelessness later this month when it conducts its annual point in time count.

Listen to the full interview to hear more about CVOEO and its warming shelter.

Broadcast live on Friday, Jan. 14, 2022 at noon.

Connor Cyrus joined Vermont Public as host and senior producer in March 2021. He was a morning reporter at WJAR in Providence, Rhode Island. A graduate of Lyndon State College (now Northern Vermont University), he started his reporting career as an intern at WPTZ, later working for WAGM in Presque Isle, Maine, and WCAX Channel 3, where he covered a broad range of stories from Vermont’s dairy industry to the nurses’ strikes at UVM Medical Center. He’s passionate about journalism’s ability to shed light on complex or difficult topics, as well as giving voice to underrepresented communities.
Tedra joined Vermont Public as a producer for Vermont Edition in January 2022. Before moving to Vermont, she was a journalist in New York City for 20 years. She has a master’s degree in journalism from New York University.
Originally from Delaware, Matt moved to Alaska in 2010 for his first job in radio. He spent five years working as a radio and television reporter, radio producer, talk show host, and news director. His reporting received awards from the Alaska Press Club and the Alaska Broadcasters Association. Relocating to southwest Florida, he was a producer for television news and NPR member station WGCU for their daily radio show, Gulf Coast Live. He joined Vermont Public in October 2017 as producer of Vermont Edition.