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Vermont News Updates For Tuesday, Aug. 11

A little finger magnet on a piece of paper.
Elodie Reed
The 2020 Vermont Primary warning in Bakersfield Town Hall, as seen on election day on Aug. 11.

Vermont reporters provide a roundup of ongoing local coverage of the coronavirus, a lawsuit against Customs and Border Protection and more for Tuesday, August 11.

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The latest coronavirus data:


11 new cases of COVID

The Vermont Department of Health reported 11 more cases of COVID-19 Tuesday.  Some 1,472 people have tested positive for the disease.

Five of the new cases are in Chittenden County. There are two each in Windham and Bennington Counties, and one each in Addison and Orange Counties. 

One person is currently hospitalized with the coronavirus in Vermont, 58 people have died and 1,295 people are reported to have recovered.

- Karen Anderson and Elodie Reed

Vermont ACLU joins lawsuit against Customs and Border Protection

Vermont's ACLU has joined affiliates in Maine and New Hampshire in challenging the constitutionality of Customs and Border Protection's interior checkpoints in federal court.

The U.S. Constitution protects citizens from arbitrary searches and seizures. But Border Patrol can conduct warrantless searches to stop illegal border crossings within 100 miles of international borders.

In a civil suit filed Tuesday, ACLU affiliates and some prominent New Hampshire attorneys allege CBP is misusing a checkpoint in Woodstock, New Hampshire, to search not for illegal border crossings, but for minor drug crimes.

Lia Ernst, with Vermont's ACLU is on the case.

“If we are successful, CBP will not be able to operate checkpoints for the purpose of general crime control within the entire state of New Hampshire,” Ernst said.

That's good for Vermonters driving through New Hampshire, Ernst says, and it would help prevent similar searches in Vermont.

- Emily Corwin

Agency of Education issues updated school guidance

Vermont schools are getting updated public health guidance for in-person learning this fall.

The Agency of Education had previously recommended six feet of physical distancing for students and school staff.

Secretary of Education Dan French now says young students can be as little as three feet apart during the school day.

“An expanding body of scientific evidence continues to support the finding that younger children less than 10 years old are least likely to acquire COVID-19, and least likely to transmit it to others when infected, even in close-contact scenarios,” French said.

The Agency of Education will also now allow students to self-certify that that they’re not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Previous guidance required school personnel to conduct daily health checks.

Read the full story.

- Peter Hirschfeld

Primary Day polls adapt for a pandemic

Primary Day voters in Barre City could vote from their cars in a drive-thru voting system set up in the municipal ice rink.

Volunteer Linda Wentworth said Tuesday most people seemed pleased with the convenience.

“So they check in here, get the ballots, they park in the middle and hopefully remember to shut their vehicle off. And the tabulator table is at the exit door,” Wentworth said. “Walk-ins come in and use our one, constantly-sanitized station, and they have to exit that way, too.  So far, we've only gotten yelled at once, and it's been running really smoothly.”

Wentworth reported a steady stream of voters taking advantage of the drive-thru option. She joked that in November, the city may have skate-thru voting.

- John Dillon

Find full election updates and results here.

Three Norwich University students test positive for COVID-19

Norwich University says three students have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.

In a letter from President Mark Anarumo to the Norwich community posted Monday on the school website, he said 500 students returned to campus as part of a six-phase schedule for the fall semester.

Every student was tested and on Monday, three tests came back positive. The students were quarantined.

Earlier Monday, the school reported that some cadets were apparently socializing in the front of their house Saturday without wearing masks or physical distancing. Anarumo met with the student who hosted the event and learned they had been in Vermont for more than two weeks and had followed Vermont standards of behavior and quarantine.

- Associated Press

Camp fined in southern Vermont

A summer camp for youths being held at the former Southern Vermont College campus in Bennington has been fined $1,600 dollars over nighttime noise complaints from neighbors.

A judge on Friday denied the town of Bennington’s request to shut down the camp, which is hosting about 350 teens and staff members from New York City and New Jersey. 

The town has received multiple noise complaints since the camp began in early July.  The camp runs through the end of the month.   

- Associated Press

Quebec releases student mask-wearing rule for schools

Quebec students from grade five and up will have to wear masks in common areas and buses as they head back to school. 

The decision was announced Monday as part of the province's updated back-to-school plan. 

Once inside the classroom, the mask rule will not apply.

Quebec has reported more than 60,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and more than 5,600 people have died in the province.

- Karen Anderson

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