The state of Vermont has seen a spike in coronavirus cases and while officials say the numbers aren’t large, they are concerning.
Vermont Governor Phil Scott and Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger held separate briefings Friday to discuss a growth in COVID-19 cases in the state over the past two to three weeks. During his regular briefing, Republican Governor Phil Scott said while the positivity rate remains low, he is concerned. “We’re seeing cases turn into clusters and outbreaks due to transmission at private gatherings. Meaning social events with family and friends at their homes more than at other venues like restaurants that have more rigid health and safety protocols.”
Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said they are following more outbreaks than they ever have during this pandemic. “Our newest outbreaks include two worksites and a Chittenden County community outbreak across several households stemming from a social gathering. There are roughly 42 what we term situations currently though a number of these are nearing resolution. These outbreaks and situations include schools and a few day cares. All small and quite containable. The data and the trends of the past few weeks are sending a clear message that we need to up our game in order to protect ourselves and our communities and prevent widespread infections.”
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, a Democrat, says the city and surrounding county are facing an elevated risk of virus infection. "This week we saw a wave of new COVID-19 case growth here in Chittenden County well above where we have been for most of the pandemic. On Vermont’s own travel map our county would be labeled red if we were in another state and quarantine protocols needed to be followed before entering Vermont. Since August under authority granted to us by the state and in coordination with the Department of Health we have had a limit on group sizes in residential areas. It is expiring on Monday but I will be asking the council to extend the order all the way to March which will take us through the holiday season and the core of the winter.”
Governor Scott was asked several questions about the election and the pending presidential results. The Republican who was elected to a third term Tuesday voted for Democrat Joe Biden and defended Vermont’s decision to send mail-in ballots to every registered voter in the state. “Every single legal vote should be counted. And verified mail-in ballots are legal votes. I agree completely with former governor and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, a Republican, who said ‘The President disrespected every single American who figured out a way to safely vote amidst the pandemic not to mention those who are dutifully counting that vote. Absolutely shameful.’ “
Scott briefly noted that he has spoken with Lieutenant Governor-elect Molly Gray, a Democrat.
Mayor Weinberger is planning a tele-Town Hall Tuesday at 5:30 with the UVM Medical Center President Dr. Stephen Leffler and state Health Commissioner Levine to discuss COVID risk and planning for the holidays.
Governor Scott’s and Mayor Weinbergers’ briefings can be viewed here: