With Number of Coronavirus Cases Low, Vt. Gov. Says State Ready to Restart School

Vermont reported no new deaths related to the novel coronavirus on Tuesday

Gov. Phil Scott on Tuesday reiterated Vermont is on track to start school in the fall due to a low number of coronavirus cases in the state.

The Green Mountain State reported just one new case on Monday, bringing its total number of confirmed cases to 1,427, while the death toll remained at 57.

"Our numbers continue to look good in Vermont, but we must continue to stay vigilant," Scott said.

Within the next two weeks, Vermont is projected to surpass 100,000 total coronavirus tests, or roughly 16% of its population, according to the state's health commissioner Mark Levine.

Levine said that the "time is right" for Vermont to re-open its schools, likening them to a "microcosm of society."

Scott also highlighted Vermont's new Frontline Employees Hazard Pay Program, a first come, first serve program designed to help public safety, public health and human service workers affected by the coronavirus. Employers may request upwards of $2,000 in hazard pay for employees at risk.

The program opened Tuesday morning and was already nearing 100 applications as of the time Scott began his press conference.

Vermont retail businesses were allowed to expand capacity from 25% to 50% over the weekend at the same time that Vermont’s statewide mask mandate went into effect.

“The fact is we’ll continue to fight back against this virus until a vaccine has been developed and distributed, which is in all reality several months away,” Scott said at his last press conference on Friday. “So it’s up to us to protect the gains we’ve made and take steps forward when it makes sense to do so. If we all do our part to suppress this virus we can get our kids back to school and keep our businesses open.”

The mask mandate requires people to wear facial coverings in public spaces, including in stores, but stores won’t be required to enforce the mandate, Scott said. All public and private businesses must display signs saying masks are required for anyone over age 2. There are a number of exemptions, including people who are eating or drinking, engaged in strenuous exercise or those who have a medical exemption.

Schools in the state are working on plans to reopen under three possible models: full remote learning, full in-class learning and a hybrid of the two.

Meanwhile, Vermont officials are keeping a close eye on surges in other parts of the country and a rise in cases in the Northeast.

Although the case growth in the Northeast is slight compared with other parts of the country, the region has seen four weeks of case growth, with new cases about 25% higher this week than they were at the end of June, he said.

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