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Help Needed: Vt. Gov. Calls All Hands on Deck to Aid Emergency Response

Phil Scott is asking for people to help reinforce critical sectors of Vermont's workforce—namely health care

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Vermont's governor is asking for help supporting the state's critical health care sector, which was already facing workforce shortages before the COVID-19 crisis.

"We're going to get through this, and we're going to do it together," said Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont.

Wednesday, Scott spoke about his request for people with health care experience who may not be working right now—like retirees or folks who moved into other sectors—to sign up to serve Vermont's medical reserve corps.

The medical reserve corps could be called upon to reinforce front-line workers fighting the new coronavirus.

The state launched a new portal where licensed professionals, people with mental health clinical experience, medical data entry workers, language translators, and others can raise their hands to help their community.

Those skills could become vital if existing workers get sick during an expected hospital patient surge.

"Vermonters are independent, self-reliant and tough," Scott said. "And we take care of each other in tough times. That's what being 'Vermont strong' is all about."

Scott's request came as the Vermont Department of Health announced three new deaths of patients diagnosed with COVID-19. That brings the state's loss of life from the illness to 16 as of April 1.

Infections have been detected in eight senior living communities or nursing homes, Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine noted.

"I think each and every one of us can serve our part," said Hillary Danis, a fourth-year medical student at the University of Vermont's Larner College of Medicine, who told NECN and NBC10 Boston she plans to offer her skills to answer Scott's call for support.

Danis, who is also an EMT in Essex, said she can envision medical students serving in many non-clinical capacities, in clinical support roles, or by working on preparatory tasks.

"In a time of public health crisis like this, really we just want to be able to help patients—put patients first," Danis said of her fellow UVM Larner College of Medicine students.

It's not just the health care field where Gov. Scott is asking for help.

The state portal also gives people with other talents a place to offer their services during the COVID-19 crisis—potentially drivers, food service workers, security personnel, and others.

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