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New England News

Vermont Leaders Provide Update On Pandemic

Vermont Statehouse
Pat Bradley/WAMC
Vermont Statehouse (file)

During his regular Wednesday briefing, Vermont Governor Phil Scott discussed plans his administration is developing to restore indoor dining at restaurants. And the state’s health director provided an update on a new cluster of COVID-19 in the state.
Vermont Republican Governor Phil Scott began Wednesday’s briefing by noting he had officially signed an executive order forming a Racial Equity Task Force. “I’m now working with Racial Equity Director Xusana Davis who will be the chair to finalize appointees so they can begin their work as soon as possible.”

Scott said his administration is now reviewing data to determine if restricted indoor dining can begin.  “When we get to indoor dining it will be a very controlled opening at first with physical distance being a priority. We still have a very long way to go to help our restaurants get back on their feet. But we’ve got to start somewhere and that‘s what we intend to announce on Friday. But we also need customers to fill the seats so we’ve been working on a plan that will allow some out-of-state visitors to come to Vermont without a quarantine.  On Friday we’ll be able to provide an update on our approach and it’s focused on setting a threshold based on what we’re seeing for active cases in Vermont and the Northeast region.”

Last Friday, Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine provided a preliminary report with few details on a new cluster of COVID-19 in Winooski, a suburb of Burlington.  Wednesday, he said 200 residents had been tested Monday and Tuesday.  “The epi team is currently in the process of verifying, validating and de-duplicating this data, which I have to remind everyone is very early so we do not have a lot of details for you. There may be in the range of 10 to 20 additional cases. We will have more specificity to this once all of the analysis has been performed.”

During the regular Wednesday city of Burlington briefing, Mayor Miro Weinberger announced the creation of a COVID-19 Response Team for BIPOC – Black, Indigenous, People of Color – communities. The city’s new Director of Racial Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Tyeastia Green outlined a plan the team has crafted to assure equitable pandemic recovery.  “This is a moment in history. This is a moment where it is so important, it is so important, for us to grab onto and make sure that we are addressing structural and institutional racism. Our children, our grandchildren, our great-grandchildren are going to be reading about this moment. We as a city we have to be on the right side of history and I think that this plan is one of the first steps for us to be on that right side. And I am excited that this is something that as a city that we’re going to do to make sure that black and brown communities feel safe, feel welcome, feel included. But also the structural problems are addressed.”

The city of Burlington is also piloting a Supportive Quarantine Program to ensure that returning out of state college students quarantine according to current state pandemic requirements.


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