Vermont Governor Phil Scott arrived late to his COVID briefing today after finishing a call with other governors and federal officials on vaccine distribution. Scott says he got good news on the call.
The biweekly COVID briefing began without Vermont’s governor because he was on a conference call with the National Governors’ Association and the White House. He joined the briefing during the question and answer session. Scott explained the call was part of the new administration’s promise to update states weekly about vaccine distribution.
“Our doses will be increased another 5% and that’s in addition to the 16% increase announced last week," Scott said. "They also reiterated that they would promise this over a three week duration which will be tremendously important to us as we plan ahead. They will also be retroactively providing 100% reimbursement for certain FEMA-approved operations. In the beginning the states had to provide 25% reimbursement and now it’s going to be retroactive back to January of 2020 which will mean millions of dollars for Vermont.”
There were a number of questions about the state Labor Department’s mailing of 1099G tax forms. They are sent to everyone who claimed unemployment and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
Commissioner Michael Harrington says during the printing and mailing process the forms were was corrupted and they are issuing a recall of all the forms.
“Of the 80,000 that were mailed approximately 55,000 were corrupt and then a smaller subset of those included a corresponding name and correct Social Security number, which leads us to believe that there is the potential for the improper release of protected information," Harrington said. "If you receive a letter from the Department of Labor and the name and address is incorrect on the envelope please do not open the envelope. You will receive follow up communication. If the information on the 1099 on the inside is incorrect put that aside and again you will receive a communication and mailing from the department with instructions.”
During the weekly report on COVID-19 trends, Bennington County was cited as a problematic area with elevated caseloads. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine says they are working to try to determine why that area is seeing a higher hospitalization rate.
“Our data teams have not pinpointed any one cause for the spread in Bennington County though we did know of some larger gatherings in early December before the holidays that led to some small outbreaks," Levine said. "Additionally a percentage of these cases are related to New York residents who either work or receive their medical care in the Bennington area. Examination of COVID-19 case activity in this county looks much more like the adjoining New York counties than those of Vermont. We’re also seeing that out-of-state ski business accounts for some of the cases as well.”