VTDigger

VERMONT — A collision of social forces, some related to COVID-19, has prompted a wave of migration into Vermont this year. While nobody knows for sure how many people have moved to the state over the past several months, University of Vermont research on new remote workers shows that this group is overwhelmingly young and gainfully employed. And they’re choosing to live in some of the state’s long-neglected rural areas. UVM’s Center for Research on Vermont distributed surveys through a dozen state and local outlets and on social media this summer in its search for data about new remote...

GOV. PHIL SCOTT, shown earlier this summer, says wearing face coverings will help Vermonters protect the progress we’ve made against coronavirus as COVID-19 explodes elsewhere. Photo by Mike Dougherty/VTDigger
VERMONT — Maura Donnelly, who owns the Bristol children’s shop Simon Says on Main Street, was pleased that Gov. Phil Scott has mandated Vermonters to wear masks in public beginning Aug. 1. “I think it’s awesome,” she told the Independent on Monday. “Very late, but I’m glad to see it.” Earlier this month, a couple of Donnelly’s teenage employees were accosted by an adult customer who refused to wear a mask in the shop, even though a sign outside clearly indicated it was required. Donnelly detailed the incident, which had upset her employees, in a July 12 letter to the Bristol selectboard, and...
District leaders began releasing plans last week for bringing students back this fall. But their proposals for reopening the state’s preK-12 schools diverge in significant ways, and some fear Vermont’s uncoordinated approach will require officials to go back to the drawing board. “Under the guise of local control and the need to respond flexibly to the differences in each district, leaders were told by state officials to basically go figure it out,” Harwood Unified School District Superintendent Brigid Nease wrote in an open letter that has caught fire on social media. “Many superintendents...
As schools in Vermont and across the country prepare to reopen, it’s clear that children who do get the coronavirus are far less likely than adults to get severely ill. What is less well understood is the role they play in passing COVID-19 along to others. A growing — albeit still quite limited — body of evidence offers hope, and suggests younger children are unlikely to be the culprits in spreading COVID-19. In a commentary published in the journal Pediatrics, two pediatric infectious disease specialists from the University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine looked at studies out of...
The top contenders for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in August are criticizing Gov. Phil Scott for his reluctance to mandate face coverings in public spaces, even as almost every other governor in the Northeast has come around to the idea.  Scott’s handling of the coronavirus has been largely applauded by his Democratic rivals, who have focused their attacks on the governor’s opposition to progressive climate policies, paid family leave and a $15 minimum wage.  However, as Vermont has become a regional outlier on the issue of face masks, and with weeks until the primaries, initial...
With early voting for the Aug. 11 primary beginning Monday, the Vermont Secretary of State’s Office has already received nearly seven times as many absentee ballot requests as it did by this date in 2018.  As of  June 29, 15,663 voters had asked for early voting ballots this year, up from just 2,247 requests by the same time in 2018, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. “I think we’re going to have a strong turnout compared to usual,” Secretary of State Jim Condos said in an interview. Condos said typical voter turnout for a primary in Vermont is between 20-25% but based on the...
The Vermont House approved police reform legislation Friday that requires all state police to wear body cameras, prohibits officers from using chokeholds and other similar restraint techniques, while also mandating that the Legislature pass additional criminal and racial justice measures in August and in the coming years. The House passed S.219 and the Senate concurred on slight changes as the Legislature ended its remaining business Friday — just three days after the upper chamber first progressed the bill and lawmakers had vowed to respond swiftly to the killing of George Floyd by police in...
Victor Guyette held up a photo of his daughter, Yvonna, on his smartphone. She was sitting on the shoulders of a fellow Marine Corps member, both wearing their camouflage uniforms. Yvonna was flexing her melon-sized biceps.  “I got her into weightlifting when she was about 10 and she took to it. She could kill me,” Guyette said with a laugh, sitting on the edge of his bed at the Holiday Inn in South Burlington.  He’s a short and stocky man with gray hair that also protrudes in flecks on his cheeks. His eyes don’t look tired when he talks about his kids. His daughter had just graduated from...
Doctors’ vacation and retirement benefits are being cut while other workers are being furloughed, as the University of Vermont Health Network cuts costs in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.  As of July 1, 900 doctors across the network’s six hospitals will stop accruing vacation time and will no longer receive an employer match for their retirement benefits. Those changes, planned to be in effect for three months, will save the network $7.9 million, through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.  At UVM Medical Center, the largest hospital in the network, 519 people have had their hours...
Charles Keating thought he might have had Covid-19 in March. His mother-in-law tested positive for the virus around that time, and soon afterward, he lost his sense of taste and smell. In early June, the 34-year-old Bolton resident got confirmation that his hunch was right. Keating, his wife Samantha, and both his in-laws all tested positive for Covid antibodies. He had his blood drawn at ClearChoiceMD Urgent Care in South Burlington, and the test result, which arrived the next morning, showed that he had the antibodies that fight coronavirus.  “It gave me a little peace of mind,” Keating...

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