Vermont Scales Back Border Traffic Monitoring

Vermont officials began monitoring traffic April 1 amid the coronavirus outbreak to see how many out-of-state vehicles were entering the state

Vermont Canada border

Vermont will continue monitoring some traffic at its borders to see how many out-of-state vehicles are entering the state amid the coronavirus outbreak, though it is scaling back the effort.

The monitoring started on April 1, with 38 high-priority border crossings staffed, the Bennington Banner reported. As of Tuesday, the number had dropped to 30 monitored border crossings with Canada, New Hampshire, New York and Massachusetts.

At first Vermont Department of Transportation employees were monitoring traffic 24 hours a day, in 12-hour shifts, said Bonnie Davis, one of those workers. The shifts have been reduced to seven hours, she said this week.

The data collected can be used to help determine the effect of measures to slow the spread of the virus, Gov. Phil Scott said.

A "number of people" had complained that out-of-state travelers were flooding Vermont, Scott said.

"We wanted to find out if that was indeed true," Scott said. "So we have developed that baseline. We want to continue to monitor."

Since the monitoring started, the state has seen consistent travel patterns, and nothing to indicate upticks or less compliance with the stay-home order or the travel advisory, Scott's spokeswoman Rebecca Kelley said in an email on Thursday. That led the governor to scale back the program, she said.

"By scaling back, we are still able to assess any change in trends, albeit with a smaller sample size. We believe this is a sufficient strategy at this time but could change again if needed," she wrote.

The data shows that a total of 779,219 out-of-state license plates and 802,023 Vermont license plates were counted at border crossings since April 1, according to the VTrans.

At the state line with Massachusetts on Route 7, 44,824 out-of-state plates and 33,888 Vermont plates have been counted in that time.

"But we still want to pay attention, especially as the weather gets better," Scott said. "And we're seeing, again, as we open up some of our opportunities in Vermont, we want to make sure we're paying attention, and bringing all that information together to figure out what we should do next, and what was the effect of what we did."

The Vermont Health Department on Thursday reported four new cases of people infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, and two more deaths.

A total of 866 people have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began, and 49 people in Vermont have died. More than 15,600 tests have been done.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up within weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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