Vermont Governor Phil Scott says maintaining vigilance and following prevention guidelines are key to keeping control of the coronavirus in the state.
The governor’s briefing Tuesday began with continued admonishments to Vermonters to maintain diligence and compliance with guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Scott says he knows he’s repetitive but it is important Vermonters do not become complacent. “The safety measures we have in place are there for a reason and they’re working. It’s why we’ve been able to increase our activities and keep the economy open. But if we let up and get more relaxed all the hard work we’ve done can slip away as well.”
Scott’s call is spurred by pandemic modeling data offered by Department of Financial Regulation Commissioner Michael Pieciak that shows growth of the virus in other areas. “This is the lowest two week period we’ve had in cases since back in late May even with K-12 reopening and higher education reopening. And here’s a moment just to pause and weave in this concept of not to be complacent. The last time we had case counts this low we did see our largest outbreak in the state just that following week. So a good reminder that even though case counts are low that can change quickly.”
The Vermont Legislature adjourned on Friday. Scott expressed disappointment in two environmental bills. One is intended to revise Act 250, the state’s environmental review law. “I was disappointed in the end product. We started out with a substantial bill that had something in it for everyone and when it ended I believe it was just a shadow of itself. And there’s really only two pieces left: the forest fragmentation as well as just an extension of the review of the trails in Vermont. So it wasn’t even eliminating the need for an Act 250 permit.”
Protesters who have been camping in Burlington’s Battery Park have refused to talk to the media. Last week the activists collected all the copies they could find of the weekly newspaper Seven Days that had published a feature about their encampment and burned them. Governor Scott, a Republican, called their actions unfortunate. “You know it’s ironic in some respects that they would do this which is exactly what they’re protesting against. Censorship isn’t good and in fact it may have backfired a bit because more people probably want to read the story.”
The stability of the hospitality industry as fall leaf peeping season normally moves into high gear is a growing concern. Governor Scott said more federal aid will be needed as the number of visitors significantly drops. “We’re not seeing an uptick in the number of cars travelling into Vermont. It’s down significantly from last year, previous years. I saw a local establishment, just a picture of fall foliage in Vermont, beautiful backdrop but there was no cars in the parking lot. We’re not seeing the traffic that we normally do.”
The Health Department reported that further data is pending regarding a nursing home in Rutland County where two staff members and one patient tested positive. No other cases have been reported at that facility.
Scott is seeking reelection against Democratic/Progressive Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman in November.