Vt. Gov. Phil Scott Extends State of Emergency Until May 15

This means Vermont residents will be asked to stay at home for at least another month

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Gov. Phil Scott on Friday extended Vermont's state of emergency until May 15. It had been set to expire on April 15.

The state of emergency includes the stay-at-home order. Schools remain dismissed through the end of the school year.

"I know how disappointing this is to many, if some were hoping we could magically flip a switch and go back to normal," Scott said. "But unfortunately, while it appears we are leveling off, which is good news, we don't have enough evidence at this time to show the virus won't spike. I don't want to give false hope or unrealistic expectations."

The governor thanked Vermonters for continuing to sacrifice, saying they are literally saving hundreds of lives by staying at home.

"It's important we don't let up just yet," Scott said. "As soon as the data shows a downward trend, we can open the spigot, a quarter turn at a time, to get folks back to work in a way that’s responsible and safe."

He also announced Friday that lodging operators will now be allowed to accept registrations after June 15, and that he has directed the Department of Motor Vehicles to extend vehicle inspections due in April for another 60 days.

Vermont's stay-at-home order is in effect amid the coronavirus outbreak, and businesses that remain open are making big changes.

The governor's office said the latest models from health officials show that the mitigation measures that have been put in place have slowed the spread of the coronavirus, but the state has still not hit its peak number of cases.

Through Thursday, there were 630 cases and 23 deaths due to COVID-19 in the Green Mountain State.

Health officials said the 7-day average growth rate fell from 15% to 9% this week and it now looks like Vermont will see a milder experience in April than originally anticipated. The peak of cases in the state is expected over the next two to four weeks.

In Vermont, where at least 23 people have died with the new coronavirus, the state university's main gymnasium is being filled with hospital beds.

Also Friday, the Vermont Department of Corrections is expected to release the full results of testing of inmates and staff from one prison after 28 inmates tested positive for COVID-19.

The department said Thursday 328 tests were done on inmates and staff at the Northwest State Correctional Facility in Swanton.

The results of the first 167 tests found the 28 positive tests from inmates and five staff members. None of the inmates with positive tests has shown any symptoms of the disease.

The positive inmates will be moved to the St. Johnsbury prison, where they will be isolated until they recover. Staff members will stay home until they recover.

All Vermont prisons are now on full lockdown, which means inmates are remaining in their cells.

Protective masks have been delivered to all the prisons for both inmates and staff.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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