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

Vermont Coronavirus Updates For Monday, May 11

Dinosaur and minion sculptures wear face masks.
Nina Keck
At MAC Equipment and Steel Company in Rutland, a masked dinosaur greeted passersby. State health officials offered further guidance about when and how to wear a mask on Monday.

Vermont reporters provide a round-up of ongoing local coverage of coronavirus for Monday, May 11.


Vermont Department of Health reports no new cases of COVID-19

No new cases of COVID-19 were reported by the Vermont Department of Health today. Five people remain hospitalized with the disease and 53 people have died from COVID-19 in Vermont.

As of Monday, 785 people are known to have recovered.

The state has seen a total of 926 confirmed cases, and nine people are "hospitalized under investigation."

The state has so far conducted a total of 20,871 tests for the disease.

- Sam Gale Rosen and Abagael Giles

Retail businesses can resume in-person operations May 18

Retail businesses will be allowed to resume in-person operations next week.

Masks will be required for employees and recommended for customers and stores will need to limit their occupancy to 25% of their legal capacity.

Most businesses will also need their own health and safety plans. Shops with fewer than 10 employees can use a training from the state.

Gov. Phil Scott said the state is waiting a week to give businesses time to prepare. He said that state officials are also watching to see if there's an uptick in COVID-19 cases.

"We want to make sure that the steps we've already taken, like opening up thousands of jobs in manufacturing, construction and some medical services are not having a negative effect on the rate of spread, hospitalization rates or other negative trends," Scott said.

Read the full story, here.

- Liam Elder-Connors

Correction 5/12/2020 2 p.m.: An earlier version of this story quoted Health Commissioner Mark Levine as saying pregnant women shouldn't wear cloth face masks. State health officials have since said that is incorrect, and that pregnant women SHOULD wear face masks.

University of Vermont will likely implement staff and salary cuts

The University of Vermont will likely implement staff and salary cuts, the school's president said Monday.

In a letter to the school community, University President Suresh Garimella said the financial challenges brought on by COVID-19 coupled with an expected drop in enrollment, will mean tens of millions of dollars in budget shortfalls.

Garimella wrote, "Maintaining our financial well-being may necessarily impact salaries and benefits, as well as staffing levels throughout the university."

By the end of June, UVM will have spent nearly $8.7 million due to the pandemic.

More from VPR: UVM Planning In-Person Classes For Fall Semester

- Amy Kolb Noyes

Health Commissioner offers updated guidance about face masks

Vermont's top public health official is reminding residents to wear a cloth mask in public.

During a press conference Monday, Health Commissioner Mark Levine offered more detailed guidance about when people should wear facial coverings.

Levine said masks should be worn inside businesses and whenever you're around people from outside of your household.

"Always have a full face covering with you when you go out, and keep it around your neck or in your pocket or in a bag," Levine said. "Even if you're out alone in the open air, be ready to slip it on when you happen to be near others."

Levine said children under two and those who have trouble breathing should not wear masks.

Read the full story, here.

- Liam Elder-Connors

Teachers express concern about COVID-19, remote learning

As the end of the academic year looms, teachers continue to hand out and grade assignments as best they can, remotely.

"But for a lot of students, this is a platform that just doesn't work for a variety of reasons and so I'm worried about some of them," said Middlebury Union High School teacher Ben Krahn.

He said some of his students are more focused on jobs or taking care of siblings, while others may have to compete with other family members for computer time.

"It's really hard to get a gauge on how much learning is really going on," Krahn said. "We're trying to make sure that our students are going to be at a place in the fall that we really want them to be."

Krahn said he and other teachers worry about new traumas caused by the pandemic and how they may hamper students when normal classes resume.

- Nina Keck

Gov. Phil Scott expects to relax Stay-at-Home order this week

Gov. Phil Scott said he expects to relax the statewide "Stay-at-Home"order this week.

The order, which was put in place in March, is set to expire on Friday. Scott said he plans to extend the state of emergency.

He said that while he'll likely relax the stay home order, there will still be restrictions.

"I think you should expect we want people to limit their travels, limit their interaction, making sure we're social distancing, that we're not getting into congregate settings," Scott said Monday.

Read the full story, here.

- Liam Elder-Connors

Vermont hospitals face serious financial losses amid COVID-19

Vermont's hospitals were losing money even before the coronavirus struck. And when they had to cancel all of their elective procedures to prepare for a COVID-19 outbreak, it deepened those losses even more.

Brattleboro Memorial expects to see about $7 million in lost revenue and the University of Vermont Health Network said it expects to lose about $152 million due to the pandemic.

Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems President Jeff Tieman said the state's hospitals have received federal help, but most of it has been in the form of loans that have to be repaid.

"It's not like these dollars put hospitals on a long-term stable path," Tieman said. "It's very much a stopgap measure. And the hospital association along with all of our members will have to do some real thinking along with our state partners about what the sustainability of not just hospitals but the entire system looks like long-term."

Tieman said it's unclear how quickly Vermonters will feel comfortable returning to hospitals for non-urgent procedures.

- Howard Weiss-Tisman

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