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New England News

Vermont Governor’s Weekly Briefing Discusses Vaccines And Federal Infrastructure Negotiations

Vermont Statehouse (file)
Pat Bradley/WAMC
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Vermont Statehouse (file)

Vermont Governor Phil Scott held his weekly briefing on Tuesday.  Administration officials provided an update on COVID-19 infections and followed up on a White House infrastructure meeting.

Every other Tuesday morning Governor Phil Scott participates on a call with other governors and the White House for an update on the pandemic. 

“The Surgeon General discussed that the rise in cases we’re seeing across the country is largely driven by the unvaccinated which is why it’s still important for us to push vaccinations in our states," said Scott.

The conference call between federal officials and the National Governors’ Association occurred the day after Canada announced its border reopening policy, and it gave Scott an opportunity to quiz U.S. officials. 

“I did ask them about the Canadian border following Canada’s positive announcement," Scott said. "Unfortunately they continued defer which is disappointing because I believe it’s past time to open the border. After I spoke Governor Inslee from Washington state jumped in to share similar concerns as did Governor Mills from Maine. So I specifically requested a briefing from the White House team with all northern border state governors and my friend Governor Hutchinson, the NGA chair, assured us they’d put something together. So stay tuned.”

Each weekly briefing includes a presentation on the status of  the COVID-19 virus and vaccinations. Department of Financial Regulation Commissioner Michael Pieciak reported that Vermont has seen its second week of increased cases, most occurring in unvaccinated people. 

“Looking at the most recent forecasts we do expect cases to be a little more elevated than they were during the month of June largely driven by the more transmissible Delta variant spreading among those who remain unvaccinated here in Vermont," Pieciak said. "The rising case rates is obviously not something that’s confined to Vermont. In the Northeast cases rose 68.7 percent this week. As the CDC has reported 97 percent of those requiring hospitalizations recently were unvaccinated individuals. The CDC estimates that 83 percent of all cases are now made up of the Delta variant and some models push that number as high as 90 percent.”

Governor Scott was among those invited to the White House last week to discuss the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure framework. The Republican emphasized it is a separate proposal from the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package that is also being considered.

“We had a very candid conversation about the package and how it would help our respective states and cities," Scott said. "At my meeting I told the President and others that we have great needs here in Vermont with a lot of deferred maintenance but we need as much flexibility as possible for states.”

Vermont agency commissioners, including Transportation Secretary Joe Flynn, discussed the importance of infrastructure investment that could occur if the Senate framework passes.

“In order to maximize the investment outcomes envisioned under this framework we are truly hoping transportation funding will be provided through existing highway and transit formulas and existing rail grant programs at 100 percent federal share in order to deploy economic recovery funding in the quickest and most efficient manner," Flynn said. "And in general we have asked Congress and the Administration to provide maximum flexibility in the use of bipartisan framework package funding as our state like others has unique transportation investment needs.”

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