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Vermont Officials Provide COVID-19 Update And Caution Against Holiday Gatherings

Vermont Statehouse
Pat Bradley/WAMC
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Vermont Statehouse

Governor Phil Scott held his latest COVID briefing this morning, asking Vermonters to reconsider any travel plans they may have for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Governor Scott began by reporting that since his last briefing on Friday two more Vermonters have died from COVID-19.  He received an email from one of the families asking him to put a name and not a number on the latest loss.  “Mary Pat Brown was a mother of six children.  In the email Mary Pat’s family shared their grief saying our family feels that these deaths need to have names attached to them. Maybe it will spark even one person to do better to follow guidelines for their loved ones and community. This is a tragic reminder of why we’re doing what we’re doing.”

Scott expressed concerns that some residents still plan to travel or hold multi-household Thanksgiving get-togethers.  He said schools are concerned about the potential aftermath and asked for help.  “The Agency of Education will be directing schools to ask students or parents if they were part of multi-family gatherings as part of the daily health check. And if the answer is yes they’ll need to transition to remote learning for 14 days or 7 days and a test. And in anticipation of that question maybe you ought to cancel some of the plans you might have right now.” 

The NY Times published an article Monday questioning whether small gatherings are actually causing a surge in coronavirus cases.  Governor Scott, who has limited gatherings to 10 people, and Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine were critical of the report.   “We’ve relied heavily on the data. I can tell you from the contact tracing we did it all points to social gathering.  The outbreaks we’re seeing in Washington County in particular will point to that. So I thought it was a bit unfair in many respects. Dr. Levine?"
Levine:  "You only have to look to events like the motorcycle rally at Sturgis to know that a really large gathering can cause a lot of trouble. And then you go to Maine and look at a church gathering and know that can cause a lot of trouble. Our Vermont data clearly points us to the strategic priorities and moves that we’ve made.”

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger also held a briefing Tuesday afternoon on the city’s response to COVID-19.  He reviewed the progress of several initiatives including the response to small business ventilation assistance and micro-grant programs.  The mayor offered a series of graphs outlining the progression of virus cases over the past few months to emphasize the importance of remaining vigilant.  “I know we’re all getting tired of this. We’re beyond eight months now of taking these steps to try to contain the virus. You know even though it is frustrating and concerning to see that we are battling higher levels now than we have in the past we should keep in perspective that these measures work, that our actions do matter, that we can control the growth of this and we can impact the trajectory of the pandemic.”

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