VTDigger

When the Vermont Legislature convenes in early January, lawmakers will continue to tackle the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and begin to craft a plan for the state’s economic recovery. The Legislature and the Scott administration will also look to build on what they did this year to make sure vulnerable Vermonters have a place to live. In response to the first wave of Covid-19, the Scott administration and Legislature worked on an expansive $87 million housing assistance program, which included making sure that homeless Vermonters had shelter — expanding the state’s homeless hotel voucher...
Vermont could see a vaccine “on its doorsteps” by Dec. 10, the state’s health commissioner, Dr. Mark Levine, said Friday at the governor’s Covid-19 press briefing. Levine noted that the pharmaceutical company Pfizer is expected to file for emergency authorization with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for their vaccine candidates by the end of the day Friday. Pfizer and its partner, BioNTech SE, have said their vaccine candidate could be available to high-risk populations in the U.S. by the middle of December. Levine said the Advisory Council on Immunization Practices, which advises the...
VERMONT — As the state grapples with the spike in COVID-19 cases that Vermont has seen in the past two weeks, Gov. Phil Scott and other officials are explaining how they came to the decision to severely limit social interactions among Vermonters just as the holidays arrive. In a press conference, Scott cited the large number of social gathering-related cases as justification for the new limit on those gatherings he imposed on Friday. He said that 71% of cases since Oct. 1 were linked to such gatherings.  “It’s mostly adults, from multiple households, getting together with friends, inside and...
Amid the uncertainty of the pandemic, some local farms have doubled or tripled direct sales to Vermonters, with business at farm stands and Community Supported Agriculture programs soaring in the state. Although state data from March through July show Vermont farms losing money on average, farms that have been pivoted to direct sales are reporting major growth.  But scaling up a business often involves expensive investments, and farmers hope that new customers will remain, even after the pandemic winds down. For people who are nervous about crowded grocery aisles or bare shelves, buying...
VERMONT — As Vermont grapples with a surge in COVID-19 cases, like the rest of the country, state officials are putting in place slightly tighter restrictions designed to bolster social distancing and reduce the spread of the disease caused by the coronavirus.  Gov. Phil Scott on Tuesday announced that Vermont is requiring a 14-day quarantine for every person coming to Vermont, or heading back into Vermont, for nonessential travel. The quarantine can be cut in half, to seven days, if the person tests negative for COVID-19. The state had been relying on a color-coded travel map — people from...
As in-person instruction goes on at area schools despite a raging pandemic, Vermont is tracking COVID cases among K-12 students and teachers. But the state’s data, provided in a weekly report, can be hard to read, and doesn’t include some of the most recent cases announced separately by schools and districts themselves. VTDigger set out to create a tracker that allows parents and others to see what schools are affected in their community. See the VTDigger map here.
MONTPELIER — With the seventh month of the coronavirus pandemic approaching, the lenders who helped thousands of Vermont businesses obtain Paycheck Protection Plan loans last winter are now delving into the business of seeing those loans converted to grants. About 12,740 Vermont businesses received loans worth $1.2 billion from the PPP, a program Congress and the U.S. Treasury put together in the early days of the pandemic in March to assist businesses hurt by the economic shutdown intended to prevent the spread of the virus. The PPP, part of the $2 trillion federal coronavirus relief bill,...
The number of reported cases of Covid-19 among Native Americans in Vermont remains low, but Abenaki tribal leaders are concerned their members remain at risk because of economic and health factors. In addition, they say state data that relies on self-reporting could undercount Abenaki cases among individuals who are hesitant to self-identify as Native American.  Across the country, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on Native American tribes, as well as people of color more generally. In Vermont, African American Vermonters have the highest rate of infection of any...

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...
VERMONT — A statewide tip line for citizens to report Covid-19 violations generated more than 1,650 reports, but fewer than 50 were reported to the police and only 15 were sent to the Attorney General’s Office. A review by VTDigger shows nearly all of them were vague, inconsequential, or petty. Some involved neighbors reporting concerns about Airbnbs still apparently operating. In one case, a family member told authorities a relative was placing herself and others in danger traveling to Vermont from the West Coast. The system was set up in April as a way to centralize reports of non-...

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Addison County Independent