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Vermont’s move to reopen pushes forward

Associated Press
Published: 6/15/2020 9:28:48 PM
Modified: 6/15/2020 9:29:00 PM

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott on Monday extended for another month the state of emergency imposed to help the state cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

During his regular briefing, Scott said that while he is extending the state of emergency first imposed in March through July 15, the state will continue its gradual reopening.

As part of the reopening, Scott said the state’s campgrounds are now allowed to be open at full capacity and all sectors of Vermont’s economy are open to some degree.

Despite a spike of cases in Winooski, Vermont’s overall virus numbers look good and if that trend continues the reopening will continue. In addition to watching what’s happening in Vermont, officials are watching what is happening in neighboring states, Scott said.

“We have to remember, Vermont is not an island and that this isn’t over,” Scott said. “We still have about 130,000 active cases within a five-hour drive of us.”

Winooski outbreak monitored

Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said the state’s strategy to box in an outbreak in Winooski appears to be working, but he is not ready to declare the outbreak over.

There have been a total of 83 cases, with 60% in adults and 40% in children. There have been no hospitalizations or deaths linked to the outbreak.

The Winooski outbreak, which officials first noticed on Memorial Day, put Vermont’s reporting of virus cases on an upward trajectory. Levine said Health Department officials have been asked repeatedly if they thought the outbreak was due to the state’s gradual reopening.

“Really nothing could be farther from the truth,” Levine said. “And I think we would see that all through the state if that were true.”

UVM plans reopening

The University of Vermont is planning to reduce residence hall densities, increase testing and contact tracing for people infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 as part of its plan to reopen the campus in the fall.

Among the details listed on the campus website, requirements now listed on the school’s Return to Campus page, all students and employees will have to wear face coverings when outside their private workspaces or residence hall rooms.

In addition, the school is modifying the fall calendar to end in-person instruction by the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The last week of classes and final exams will be conducted remotely.

Vermont case numbers

On Monday, the Vermont Health Department reported one new positive test for the virus that causes COVID-19 bringing the statewide total to just under 1,130.

The number of deaths in Vermont has remained at 55 since late May.

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