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New England News

Vermont Officials Continue Vaccination Efforts After Emergency Ends

Vermont Statehouse
Pat Bradley/WAMC
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Vermont Statehouse (file)

Vermont’s COVID restrictions have been lifted and its State of Emergency has expired, allowing the state to revert, for the most part, to pre-pandemic normalcy. But Governor Phil Scott is continuing efforts to vaccinate residents.
Governor Scott and administration officials had an update Tuesday on vaccination clinics that are available across the state.  Even as Vermont surpasses its 80 percent vaccination rate goal, Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine says they will continue efforts to get the vaccine to all residents.  “This remains an active and innovative virus and we all must take the actions needed to stop it in its tracks. Nearly one in five people eligible to be vaccinated have yet to take that step. Let me give you an update on one such important reason: the Delta variant. This variant is showing traits of being far more contagious and potentially more dangerous than the strains we've been seeing, though the science is not yet clear on the latter. Even here in Vermont we've identified three cases. How do we stop it? We all know the answer: vaccination with a hefty side of continued prevention measures.”

Department of Financial Regulation Commissioner Michael Pieciak said that COVID-19 trends continued to significantly improve over the past week, resulting in their most positive forecast.  "Quite simply Vermont remains the safest state in the country. We have the country’s lowest case, hospitalization and death rates and we maintain the country’s highest vaccination rates. Cases are now down 97-percent since our peak on April 1st.. We are seeing cases fall consistently across all age groups.”

With intensifying calls for the U.S.-Canada border to reopen, Pieciak assessed COVID-19 trends in Canada and the neighboring province of Quebec.  He said unlike the U.S., Canada experienced a significant surge this spring due to variants and limited vaccine supply.  “However over the last four weeks the Canadian vaccination rates have increased dramatically surpassing the United States, the United Kingdom and even Israel in terms of the percentage of the Canadian population that has started vaccination. Now with one of the highest vaccination rates in the world its cases have also fallen significantly. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that Canada would begin to reopen, including reopening its border, when the country hit 75 percent of its population who had received at least one dose and 20 percent that was fully vaccinated.  Canada currently stands at 64.7 percent having started and 12.2 percent being fully vaccinated meaning that they are likely a matter of weeks away from meeting these thresholds.”   

Governor Scott declared a State of Emergency on March 13, 2020 and extended it monthly. He allowed it to expire at midnight Tuesday.  But there were programs included in the emergency order that Scott said need to continue so he signed a separate executive order to authorize their extension.  “First, it maintains the National Guard's active state service status. This will allow the Guard to continue assisting with our response as needed. The order also extends Vermont's access to federal funding for expanded emergency housing and feeding programs and our goal is to help make sure there's a smooth transition back to pre-pandemic services.”

 

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