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The home for VPR's coverage of health and health industry issues affecting the state of Vermont.

Gov. Shares Details About Plan To Close Schools Through June

Empty Classroom
On March 26, Gov. Phil Scott announced that Vermont schools will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019/2020 school year.

Gov. Phil Scott on Friday said his order closing Vermont schools for the remainder of the school year was a "sad," but necessary step to slow the spread of coronavirus.

"I know this news is incredibly difficult," Scott said during a press conference in Montpelier on Friday morning. "Lets face it, it's disappointing, frustrating and it's just plain sad. I know that the education of our kids and the ... bonding they get in schools is incredibly important. But from my vantage point, I believe it’s the right decision because it's for the health of our kids, our communities and the entire state."

Health Commissioner Mark Levine said as of Friday, Vermont has registered 183 positive cases of COVID-19 and 10 deaths. Seven of the deaths are from the Burlington Health & Rehab facility, which experienced an outbreak among its population of elderly patients.

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"The sobering reality is before too long, each of us will know someone who has lost their life from this virus," Scott said. "That’s why we must come together and support each other to get through this."

Levine also announced that the state, thanks to an "aggressive procurement strategy," is now allowing for more people with "mild and moderate" symptoms to be tested for COVID-19. People will still need a doctor's order to receive a test, and asymptomatic people will not receive tests, Levine said.

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The state is sending new guidance to doctors on ordering tests later today, Levine said.

“We are making it far easier to get tested,” Levine said.

Scott's order to close schools and daycare centers for the rest of the academic year came on March 26, the same day the state announced that it had received nearly 15,000unemployment claims in the past week. The same day, the state registered the largest one day rise in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases so far.

The governor declared a state of emergency in response to COVID-19 on March 13. On March 15 he ordered K-12 schools to close until at least April 6, but warned it the closure could be extended.

As he has done in most of his press conferences, Scott on Friday warned that he may implement additional restrictive measures to slow the spread of the virus.

Secretary of Human Services Mike Smith said 14 people with confirmed cases of COVID-19 are currently undergoing inpatient treatment for coronavirus in Vermont, 14 people are inpatient with symptoms of COVID-19 and are under investigation, and one person has been discharged from in-patient coronavirus care.

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Mark Davis has spent more than a decade working as a reporter in Vermont, focusing on both daily and long-form stories. Prior joining Vermont Public as assistant news director, he worked for five years at Seven Days, the alt-weekly in Burlington, where he won national awards for his criminal justice reporting. Before that, he spent nine years at the Valley News, where won state and national awards for his coverage of the criminal justice system, Topical Storm Irene, and other topics. He has also served as a producer and editor for the Rumblestrip podcast. He graduated from the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism.
Abagael is Vermont Public's climate and environment reporter, focusing on the energy transition and how the climate crisis is impacting Vermonters — and Vermont’s landscape.

Abagael joined Vermont Public in 2020. Previously, she was the assistant editor at Vermont Sports and Vermont Ski + Ride magazines. She covered dairy and agriculture for The Addison Independent and got her start covering land use, water and the Los Angeles Aqueduct for The Sheet: News, Views & Culture of the Eastern Sierra in Mammoth Lakes, Ca.
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