As a Middlebury alum and current public health practitioner, I understand how difficult it is to make decisions that ensure the well-being of students, staff, and community. From a public health standpoint, the college is following the recommendations set forth by the State, but from a behavioral standpoint, there is no way that you will be able to control what will inevitably be an unsafe situation for the entire community. Controlling the actions of students has always been difficult, even prior to the global pandemic. When has Middlebury successfully stopped students from breaking rules?...
I am writing about COVID-19 contact tracing in the context of college opening plans. I think many people are not familiar with what a powerful tool contact tracing is, when combined with isolation of infected people and quarantine of exposed people. I spent 35 years working in disease control in public health departments, and am quite familiar with how contact tracing, isolation and quarantine work for control of transmission of tuberculosis, syphilis, and various vaccine-preventable diseases — most often in combination with curative and preventive treatment. The challenge is a bit greater...

A WOMAN RECEIVES the seasonal influenza vaccine. NIAID photo
The Vermont Department of Health may require that school-age children get a flu shot.  Commissioner Mark Levine said he was “absolutely” considering mandating the vaccine and would announce a decision within weeks, according to an interview on VPR’s Vermont Edition.  Last week, Massachusetts became the first state to require flu shots for its students. All kids over the age of six months who attend child care, pre-school, elementary school, high school or college must get the vaccine by Dec. 31, public health officials announced. Homeschool children and fully remote college students are...
VERGENNES — Vergennes-area school officials said they will rely on such factors as local COVID-19 infections rates, availability of staffing, and guidance from state officials as they decide in coming weeks when and whether to bring Addison Northwest School District students in for full in-person classes. Speaking in response to questions from ANWSD board members at their Aug. 24 meeting, Superintendent Sheila Soule said the district administration would act independently of other districts in deciding whether to bring elementary school students back into the classrooms fulltime, or go in the...
Vermont has received $38.5 million in federal money to provide temporary payments of $300 per week to people collecting unemployment benefits. The new “lost wages” program from the federal government comes after $600-a-week unemployment payments expired almost a month ago. The Federal Emergency Management Agency approved Vermont’s application for a $35.8 million grant through the Lost Wage Assistance Program. The program covers the initial three weeks of benefits, after which states can apply for additional funding, if the program remains open. President Donald Trump signed an executive order...

Chief Tom Hanley
MIDDLEBURY — In his Emergency Management update to the Middlebury selectboard Tuesday evening, Police Chief Tom Hanley reported that a supply of cloth masks provided by the state is now available to Middlebury businesses for customer use. Better Middlebury Partnership (BMP) Director Karen Duguay is the point of contact for distribution. Hanley said the police department will also be distributing masks to local childcare facilities to supplement their own supplies and that masks are available to the general public. Citizens may simply stop by the PD facility at 1 Lucius Shaw Lane to request a...

‘Community Through Crisis,’ the first film from a new nonprofit, tells the stories of 10 Vermont businesses making their way through the COVID-19 pandemic.
VERMONT — Planet Axis this week rolled out “Community Through Crisis: A Vermont Story,” a new film that features 10 businesses from across Vermont that have shifted their usual operations to provide various services for the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Film producers say it is a dose of good news and highlights the power of coming together in times of crisis. This is the debut release of Planet Axis, a Vermont nonprofit that creates and curates films to inspire and educate people on important environmental and community issues. Companies featured in “Community Through Crisis: A...

This image provided by Middlebury College shows a run-through of the COVID-19 testing site set up in Virtue Field House for every student to test for the coronavirus disease when they return to campus. A student who arrived on Wednesday, Aug. 26, tested positive and was put in isolation.
MIDDLEBURY — A Middlebury College student who arrived on campus Wednesday has tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently in isolation. “At this time, of the 783 students tested on Aug. 26, one received a positive result, 709 tests were negative, 58 are still waiting for results, and 15 will be retested due to insufficient samples,” said Middlebury’s Director of Health Services Mark Peluso in a campus-wide email. “This is the first positive case of COVID-19 in our campus community for the fall semester, and the student, who was not experiencing symptoms, is now in isolation housing...
MIDDLEBURY — Porter Medical Center officials on Thursday afternoon reported that the positive COVID-19 test result at the Helen Porter Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center was erroneous, and no one at the nursing home has the disease caused by coronavirus. Ron Hallman, vice president for Communications and Engagement at UVM Health Network/Porter Medical Center, said that after the positive test result surfaced late last week, Helen Porter quickly tested all of its residents and staffs for COVID-19, and they all came back negative. “In addition, review of the circumstances of the person who...
Editor’s note: This is the second in a series about women’s health in the pandemic. ADDISON COUNTY — Reports on the number of COVID-19 cases in an area and any success at flattening the curve are good ways to show the public health impacts of the coronavirus. But there are other indicators of the virus’s impact on public health that are less obvious but also critical. As physical distancing and isolation measures and practices work to mitigate the spread of the disease, they also serve to trap survivors of domestic and sexual violence at home with their abusers and hinder access to crucial...


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Addison County Independent

58 Maple Street
Middlebury, VT 05753

Phone: 802.388.4944
Fax: 802.388.3100