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Vermont Coronavirus Updates For Friday, May 8

A rainbow painted on plywood covering up an old garage door.
Elodie Reed
A rainbow adorns an empty building along Main Street in Vergennes on Saturday, May 2.

Vermont reporters provide a round-up of ongoing local coverage of coronavirus for Friday, May 8.


Vermont has recorded just over 19,000 tests for COVID-19

The state of Vermont has now tested 19,008 people for COVID-19. From those tests, 919 cases have been discovered to date and 737 people have recovered.

Of the 557 new tests reported in the past 24 hours, three came back positive. Nineteen more people have been counted as recovered.

In total, 53 people in Vermont have died from the disease and five are currently hospitalized.

- Amy Kolb Noyes

Scott administration lifts some restrictions

Here are the top takeaways from Gov. Phil Scott’s press conference today.Read more here.

  • Child care programs can open June 1
  • Summer camps can open
  •  Schools will likely reopen in the fall
  • High school graduation ceremonies must be virtual

- Pete Hirschfeld

Model shows social distancing still necessary

COVID-19 infection rates in Vermont are among the lowest in the nation, and fewer than 10 people in the state are currently hospitalized with the disease.

Nevertheless, the Scott administration said new computer modeling shows the need for continued social distancing orders.

Commissioner of Financial Regulation Michael Pieciak said his department looked at what would happen if Vermont returned to business as usual.

“Even with our positive trends and our positive experience,” he said, “this scenario would put us on a trajectory that would likely overwhelm our hospitals by the middle of the summer.”

Pieciak said modeling shows Vermont would need more than 1,000 hospital beds to care for COVID patients if all social distancing orders were lifted.

And Pieciak says the modeling suggests Vermont can reopen much of the economy, while keeping the coronavirus in check. But he says doing so will require social distancing and widespread use of face masks.

- Peter Hirschfeld

Front-line workers can get tested on Saturday in Colchester

Healthcare workers, first responders and childcare providers will able to get tested for COVID-19 at a pop-up facility in Colchester on Saturday.

The site is the first of four clinics the Health Department plans to open in the next week. The department said sites will also open in Bennington, Brattleboro and Hartford.

Saturday’s testing in Colchester is by appointment only and limited to people working “on the frontlines of Vermont’s pandemic response.”

Health Department officials said if members of the public have even mild symptoms they should contact their doctor for a testing referral.

- Liam Elder-Connors

Restaurant owners fear demise

Restaurant owners in Vermont say they’ll struggle to survive the coronavirus pandemic if the state or federal government doesn’t offer financial relief to companies that have been unable to avail themselves of previous aid packages.

Few businesses in Vermont have been more directly affected by COVID-19 than restaurants. The federal aid programs that were supposed to help struggling companies, however, have been of little help to the restaurant industry. Read more here

- Peter Hirschfeld

Senators will consider waiving waste laws

Next week the Senate Natural Resources Committee will consider a bill allowing the state to waive certain solid waste laws during the COVID-19 crisis.

Waste haulers have asked for the change, saying they are at risk because the coronavirus can persist for several days on metal and plastic surfaces. The Scott Administration also wants the ability to waive the recycling requirement, and to postpone a July deadline to keep all organic waste out of landfills.

Addison Senator Chris Bray chairs the Natural Resources Committee. Although the committee will consider the legislation, Bray told his colleagues yesterday he's not convinced it's needed.

“My own understanding and position is that this is standing law, and we should continue to plan to meet the requirements of that law.”

Other states, including Maine, have decided not to enforce recycling mandates in order to protect the health of the workers handling the material.

- John Dillon

Despite bankruptcy filing, Springfield Hospital allowed to apply for federal funds

Springfield Hospital will be allowed to apply for federal aid under the new Paycheck Protection Program.

The hospital asked a bankruptcy judge to allow it to apply for the money after the Small Business Administration refused its loan application.

The judge said the hospital can apply for the stimulus money.

Interim hospital CEO Mike Halstead said securing a paycheck protection loan would be a significant help.

“It would be sufficient for us to not have to worry about making payroll for at least a two-month period of time,” he said.

Springfield Hospital has declared bankruptcyand the Paycheck Protection Program is not available to businesses that are seeking bankruptcy protection.

- Howard Weiss-Tisman 

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