COVID-19

MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott is easing some restrictions on school and recreational sports practices, effective today, Jan. 18. Among the changes, outdoor ski teams will be allowed to compete this winter, Scott said in his Jan. 15 news conference. Nordic skiers from Middlebury and Otter Valley union high schools could begin to hit the trails soon, although the Otter skiers appear to have a clearer path. OV skiers have a half-dozen meets on a modified schedule, beginning Jan. 27, with the first three meets set to be hosted by Woodstock, Mount Anthony and Brattleboro. Per state officials, the...

VERMONT HEALTH COMMISSIONER Dr. Mark Levine singled out Victory Baptist Church in Vergennes last Friday as the source of 80 recent COVID-19 cases linked to Christmas services. On Tuesday he said the number was approaching 100 cases.
ADDISON COUNTY  — Along with the rest of Vermont, Addison County is caught up in a surge of COVID-19 cases stemming from an increase in a spread of the disease related to people getting together over the Christmas holidays. The Vermont Department of Health reported double-digit daily increases in the number of Addison County cases over the last two weeks, with 218 new cases here since Dec. 30 — nearly half of the 474 confirmed county cases since the pandemic began last March. Statewide the numbers were equally alarming, with the 118 new cases on Wednesday alone, and more than 9,000 since mid-...

DR. ERIC BENZ can feel the strength course through his body as he receives the COVID-19 vaccine recently. He got one of more than 760 doses that Porter Hospital has administered in the past three weeks. Porter will have put around 1,000 shots in arms by the end of this week. Photos by Nicole Webb/Porter Medical Center
MIDDLEBURY — By the end of this week, Porter Hospital will have given out a combined total of 1,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to its staff and other frontline healthcare workers, though state and federal authorities have yet to indicate when the vaccine will be available to the general public. “We want to remind folks that it’s not time for them to call us, at this point,” Porter Medical Center spokesman Ron Hallman said. “We want folks to know that calling us at this point is really not a plan. We pledge we’ll share information the minute we have it, through all of our social media channels,...
VERGENNES / MIDDLEBURY — The recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Addison County touched area schools, with Addison Central School District choosing to put more students on remote education in response to positive tests and Addison Northwest School District keeping most of its students in their classrooms. In ACSD, it began on Friday, Jan. 8, when Middlebury Union Middle School interim Principal Andrew Conforti announced that the Phoenix team at MUMS — made up of around 70 students — would spend the ensuing week learning remotely. That’s because a member of the MUMS community had tested positive...
“Ignorance, inconsiderate, sickening, tragedy . . . they got what they deserved.” These are the responses to a COVID outbreak at a church in Vergennes. As a member and regular attendee, I would agree that it is a tragedy, an unfortunate series of events. Some may feel that it could have been prevented while others see it as the ebb and flow of life. We followed the CDC guidelines (masked, six-feet distance, limited capacity), and yet it still spread through the church. How did it first come through the door? Did it come through the food shelf, the blood drive, or the church services? This is...
I sincerely hope the Victory Baptist parishioners — and those subsequently infected with COVID — will recover. And that the church (and any others tempted to do in-person services) will conduct only-online services until we achieve herd immunity through vaccinations. As we can see from this church’s reckless practices, in-person services endanger innocent Vermonters. The church pastor is quoted as saying. “Corporate worship is part of the Christian faith. There is something lost in a Zoom service. We did it for three months.” Religious freedom is a foundation of our nation. But it is not “...
VERGENNES — Although two Vergennes Union Elementary School students have recently tested positive for the COVID-19 virus and one VUES class has gone to remote learning, school officials said the Addison Northwest School District will continue in-person education. ANWSD Superintendent Sheila Soule and other ANWSD administrators took that position in emails sent out to students’ families on Sunday and Monday, and Soule reinforced the message at Monday’s district board meeting. Sunday’s email to families, including school principals and central office administrators in its signature line,...
SHOREHAM — Due to staffing challenges, the Shoreham Elementary School will be moving to fully remote learning beginning tomorrow, Wednesday, January 13, according to an email from Principal Michael Lenox. The decision was made in response to an increase in COVID activity in the school community. Too many staff, students and families need to be tested and quarantine while awaiting results to meet the school's staffing needs this week. "We are hopeful that we will get the results and be able to confidently reopen next Wednesday, January 20," said Lenox.  Breakfasts and lunches will be delivered...

VICTORY BAPTIST CHURCH in Vergennes has seen 80 COVID cases since Christmas. Independent photo/Steve James
VERGENNES  — After Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine singled out a Vergennes church as the source of 80 recent COVID-19 cases, the pastor of Victory Baptist Church on Route 7 says that his parishioners were following federal safety guidelines during the spread of the disease that apparently occurred at Christmas services. “Our congregations want to do live services, so we follow CDC guidelines,” the Rev. Tim Taylor told the Independent. During the start of the pandemic Victory Baptist held services only online in March, April and May, in accordance with state mandates, Taylor said....
MIDDLEBURY — A group of 70 Middlebury Union Middle School students will be studying remotely this entire week in light of a recent, positive COVID-19 test confirmed among the MUMS community. “Led by ACSD’s COVID-19 Coordinator Kelly Landwehr, we met with necessary members of school to help us with contact tracing and make decisions on how to best support our continuity of learning,” reads an email sent to the MUMS community this past weekend by Andrew Conforti, MUMS principal. “We are confident that we've shared all critical information related to this positive case.” It was a member of the...

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Addison County Independent