Vermont Governor Phil Scott held his regular COVID-19 briefing today. Officials said they are tracking concerning trends in the disease and have been briefed about FBI warnings over possible armed protests as the presidential inauguration looms.
Every Tuesday the governor’s briefing includes a presentation on weekly tracking data on the pandemic both nationally and regionally. Department of Financial Regulation Commissioner Michael Pieciak said over the past week the Northeast reported a 17 percent rise in new cases over the previous past week, representing the single largest week of cases during the pandemic. “Here in Vermont we’re also seeing cases increase. This week we recorded 1,166 new COVID-19 cases here in Vermont, about 400 more cases than we did last week and a record number throughout the pandemic. To help put the recent case growth into perspective and also put the current risk into perspective over the last five days Vermont has reported more cases than it did for the entire months of May, June, July, August and September combined.”
State officials recently announced that the next phase of vaccine distribution in Vermont will be based on age. Governor Scott said the age-based plan will reduce the number of deaths and called it a moral obligation to vaccinate elderly Vermonters first. “Because as the data and the science show the older you are the more vulnerable you are to severe risks and death from COVID. Saving lives must be our priority.”
Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine is pleased that the incoming Biden administration is planning to increase distribution of the vaccine. “It was just announced this morning that they may not withhold the second dose anymore but send it all initially. We don’t really have any real details on anything except that one line. But if we got larger allocations we would be delighted. Bring it on.”
The FBI is warning state officials of plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitals in advance of Biden’s inauguration. Governor Scott is concerned that what started as Second Amendment rallies are being infiltrated by extremists. “Obviously it’s your right, First Amendment right, to gather in protest and make your feelings known. But I would say don’t be played. Don’t be used as a pawn by some of these extreme groups that are planning these protests throughout our nation to undermine our democracy to overthrow the government. They’re using some of those who have strong feelings. They’re using them as pawns. They used them in Washington and they’ll use them in the next few days. So don’t be used.”
Vermont’s Republican governor was one of the first to call on President Trump to resign and said he supports impeachment. “I believe the President should be held accountable for this insurrection. I believe he had a hand in it if not a major role in this insurrection.”
Governor Scott reminded Vermont businesses that the new federal COVID relief bill includes a more flexible Paycheck Protection Program and they should be ready to apply as soon as their banking institution begins accepting applications.