New Business Grants And Infection Trends Discussed During Governor’s Regular COVID Update
During Vermont Governor Phil Scott’s regular COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday, a new round of grants for businesses impacted by the pandemic was announced, and officials provided an overview of infection predictions for the fall.
Republican Governor Phil Scott started his regular briefing by announcing that the state is expanding Economic Recovery Grants to businesses and non-profits. “I'm pleased the legislature work with us to fund an additional $76 million for another round of grants to support our struggling businesses. These grants will be structured a little differently than the last round with a focus on those with the greatest need.”
Department of Economic Development Commissioner Joan Goldstein explained some of the differences in this round of recovery grants. “In setting up this program we took the lessons we learned from the first time around and worked to develop a program that would address the financial needs of those sectors that are still suffering greatly and make it more possible for other entities that were closed out the first time around.”
In his weekly report tracking COVID-19 trends, Vermont Department of Financial Regulation Commissioner Michael Pieciak said the predictions moving into fall and winter show increases in virus infections. “We still have the lowest seven day infection rate in the country, one of the lowest positivity rates in the country. Looking at our forecast, the forecast has changed slightly. It does show an anticipation of more cases, an increase in cases, in the November to mid-November time period. Not many but slightly an increase in forecasted cases through the rest of the next five to six weeks. Also important to point out that all of the other seven jurisdictions around us that we monitor closely, each one of them projects increased case growth as well. So this is not unique to Vermont.”
Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said the agency is continuing to follow up on the outbreak among an adult broomball league and adult and youth hockey leagues at the Central Vermont Memorial Civic Center in Montpelier. “There are a total of 34 cases. Half of those we call primary infections meaning related to the events at the hockey arena. Cases now involve an elementary school and a high school and a worksite. It appears that the outbreak we're talking about in central Vermont was most likely due to the kinds of activities teams may do together that don't always occur on the ice in addition to possibly travel.”
Levine also expressed his worry that pandemic fatigue may be setting in as the holidays approach. “I’m asking us all to join together to take a moment to re-center, to step back from pandemic fatigue and rededicate to doing everything we can to keep the virus from spreading. We still have to be very careful.”
Details on the Economic Recovery Grants are available on the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development’s website.