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More Than 21,000 Eligible Vermonters Sign Up For Vaccine Monday

A sign reading spread kindness stay safe respct others please wear mask
Abagael Giles
The post office in East Middlebury shares a message with passerby on Monday, Jan 25.

Vermont reporters provide a roundup of top news takeaways about the coronavirus more for Monday, Jan. 22.

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The latest coronavirus data:


1. Vermont reports 122 new COVID-19 cases

State health officials reported 122 new cases of COVID-19 in Vermont on Monday.

That's after the state passed more than 11,000 total cases over the weekend, with 120 new infections reported Sunday on top of 148 on Saturday.

As of today, 171 Vermonters have now died from the coronavirus.

Statewide, there are 50 people in the hospital with COVID-19, including six people in intensive care.

- Matthew Smith

Vermont Department of Corrections reports eight COVID cases among staff

The Vermont Department of Corrections is reporting eight new COVID-19 cases among staff.

Six cases are at Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility, and there is one case each at the Southern State Correctional Facility and in the Probation and Parole offices.

In a press release sent Monday evening, the agency says 11 staff members are currently positive. There are no reported cases among incarcerated individuals.

In total, 50 staff members and 244 incarcerated individuals have tested positive for COVID-19 since March 2020. The incarcerated individuals include the Vermont population at Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in Mississippi.

- Brittany Patterson

Quebec reports 1,400+ new cases, 41 more deaths Sunday

Quebec saw more than 1,400 new COVID-19 cases Sunday and 41 more deaths from the virus. The province has now seen more than 9,400 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The weekly average of new cases is now the lowest since early December, but provincial officials say they haven't ruled out extending the 8 p.m. curfew now set to expire Feb. 8.

The Montreal Gazettereports this weekend also marked one year since the first COVID-19 case was reported in Canada. Since then, Quebec has tallied more than 253,000 cases.

- Matthew Smith

Fair Haven, Bennington schools go remote due to COVID

Fair Haven schools are shifting to remote learning this week after two members of the school community tested positive for COVID-19.

The Rutland Heraldreports the Slate Valley Unified School District superintendent announced students at Fair Haven Grade School and Fair Haven Union High School will learn remotely this week.

All athletic practices at both schools are also canceled. In-person learning is set to resume next Monday, Feb. 1.

In Bennington, a second positive COVID-19 test in the school community has students at both the Mount Anthony Union High School and Southwest Tech pivoting to remote learning this week.

The Bennington Bannerreportsthe Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union announced the change Saturday.

The high school's athletics will continue as scheduled.

- Matthew Smith

Criminal citation possible for those going maskless at Rutland Town transfer station

Refusing to wear a mask at the Rutland Town transfer station could now result in a criminal citation for trespassing.

The Rutland Heraldreports the Board of Health voted to allow citations for those not wearing masks where required, specifically as the order applies to the transfer station.

Local health officials say masks will be offered for those who don't have one. After one warning, those going maskless could face a citation for trespassing.

Trespass convictions carry a penalty of up to three months in jail and up to a $500 fine.

- Matthew Smith

2. Vermonters 75 and older can now sign up for vaccine appointments

Vermonters 75 and older can now book appointments to get the COVID-19 vaccination, and the first shots will go in people's arms on Wednesday.

The Vermont Health Department opened online registration Monday morning around 9. Eligible Vermonters can sign up at

The Health Department says more than 21,100 of the 42,000 eligible Vermonters signed up Monday to get the COVID-19 vaccination. Officials noted another 7,000 people aged 75 and older are residents in long-term care facilities, and have already been vaccinated by the state.

Claude Stone lives in Montpelier. The 80-year-old says he and his wife were able to sign up through the website.

“It was pretty straightforward, but it was tedious, there were so many questions,” Stone said. “I wonder how hard it will be for other people.”

The Health Department also opened a call center at noon for people who can't register online and those who speak a language other than English. The state says interpreters are available for more than a dozen languages. The phone number is 855-722-7878.

Deputy Health Commissioner Tracy Dolan told Vermont EditionVermonters who are eligible for the COVID vaccine do not need insurance for the shot. But, she says, if you do the state is collecting that information.

“We are hopeful that we may be able to get reimbursement from insurance companies if we go down that road, depending on the vendor,” Dolan says. “So, we are asking if you do have insurance, to have your insurance card with you. That will take a couple of minutes to input that. But if you don't have insurance, or if you don't have that card with you, or if you don't know where that information is, then you can just move past it and continue forward.

More from VPR: Vermont’s Vaccine Sign-up Website Is Live For Vermonters 75 And Older

Homebound Vermonters eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine will be able to get the shot at their residence, but for now, they can’t request that service — appointments will only be offered at clinics across the state.

Jill Olsen is executive president of VNAs of Vermont, a trade group representing home health and hospice agencies. Olsen says health care organizations are working to identify people who will need to get the shot at home.

“You’re not going to be able to register for homebound care through the new system,” Olsen said. “So we are asking people to be patient and to let us contact them.”

State officials say EMS workers will help distribute shots to residents who can’t leave their homes.

- Liam Elder-Connors, Ruby Smith and Brittany Patterson

Health Commissioner urges Biden administration to increase vaccine dose shipments

Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine is urging the Biden administration to increase the availability of COVID-19 vaccines to states that have an effective plan to distribute them.

Currently, the state is receiving roughly 8,000 doses a week. At this rate, it would take about six months to fully vaccinate Vermont's initial priority list of people 65 and older, and people with chronic conditions.

"We could use a heck of lot more than 8,000 doses a week, needless to say, and we will have the capacity to deliver to the population way more than that if we can only get our hands on it,” Levine said.

The state will begin giving vaccinations to people 75 and over on Wednesday.

- Bob Kinzel

3. Executive director of racial equity: Structural inequities contribute to COVID-19 racial disparities

A new report is urging Vermont lawmakers to address the root causes of racial disparities in Vermont.

Executive Director of Racial Equity Xusana Davis told lawmakers last week that structural inequities have contributed to disproportionately high rates of COVID-19 among people of color.

“So that was another big finding that was highlighted this year: A lot of people really started to see how existing structural disparities gave rise to specific COVID-19 disparities,” Davis said.

Davis’ report said people of color also face higher barriers to educational and economic opportunities.

She said lawmakers should intensify their focus on equity initiatives at the local level.

- Peter Hirschfeld

Racial and ethnic disparities in traffic stops worsen in recent years

Racial and ethnic disparities in traffic stops by police have persisted and worsened in recent years in Vermont. That surprised one of the authors of a new study analyzing traffic stop data in the state.

UVM Economics Professor Stephanie Seguino co-authored the report. She says while Black and Hispanic drivers are searched more often than white drivers, that disparity has diminished slightly in recent years.

"But arrest rate disparities have increased,” Seguino said. “Stop rates per 1,000 residents also shows an increasing trend. So it's a mixed bag, and partly because we're using statewide data. And all it is a summary of the behavior of individual law enforcement agencies, and law enforcement agencies, as this study shows, police in very different ways."

Seguino recommends that law enforcement agencies increase bias training for officers, and share data on traffic stops with officers more frequently.

Read/hear the full story.

- Henry Epp

4. Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy to preside over impeachment trial

Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy will preside over the upcoming impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.

Leahy is the Senate president pro tem, and holders of that office traditionally preside over impeachment trials of non-presidents.

In a prepared statement, Leahy said he will "administer the trial with fairness, in accordance with the Constitution and the laws."

The trial is scheduled to begin the week of Feb. 8.

- Mark Davis

Vt. National Guard to remain in DC into February

Most of the 100-plus members of the Vermont National Guard deployed to Washington, DC for last week's inauguration of President Joe Biden will remain there until late February.

A release from the Guard says Gov. Phil Scott has approved the extension for the Vermont Guard to "support security operations in Washington."

About 30 soldiers returned to Vermont Sunday. Another 30 replacements will leave for the Capitol on Tuesday.

The Guard says soldiers returning from DC will follow state and federal COVID-19 guidelines and will quarantine upon their return.

- Matthew Smith

5. Researchers: Registry needed to study links between ALS, cyanobacteria

Researchers who study the fatal neurological disease ALS say a statewide registry of cases is needed to look for possible links between ALS and environmental causes.

Dr. Elijah Stommel at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center says he's found ALS clusters need water bodies that have frequent blooms of cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae. The blooms are fueled by nutrient pollution in Lake Champlain and other water bodies.

“We have identified many clusters of ALS in Vermont,” Stommel said. “But the clarity and reliability of our results would be much better if we had a complete data set.”

But the Vermont Department of Health is not convinced there's a link to cyanobacteria exposure. The department has not supported a registry in the past, but says it will look again at a legislative proposal that would mandate one in Vermont.

Read/hear the full story.

- John Dillon

6. Secretary of state says vote-by-mail could increase Town Meeting turnout

It's expected that voter participation in Town Meeting could increase dramatically in some parts of the state this March.

That's because Gov. Phil Scott has just signed a new law that allows towns to expand mail-in voting because of health concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the law, individual towns have the option of sending out ballots to all registered voters much in the same way that they did for the recent November general election.

Secretary of State Jim Condos is expecting much larger turnout in the towns that choose this option.

"What we've seen in other states that have been using vote-by-mail for many years, that they have seen an increase in voter participation,” Condos said.

The new law also allows towns to delay their Town Meeting until the spring.

- Bob Kinzel

7. Vermont Law School names first female dean

The Vermont Law School has named its first female dean.

Beth McCormack will serve as interim president and dean of the South Royalton law school, succeeding Thomas McHenry, who announced he was stepping down last fall.

McCormack assumed the interim position Saturday after a unanimous vote from the law school's board, according to a press release. A national search for a permanent president and dean is expected to begin in the summer.

- Anna Van Dine

8. $1 million grant to go toward northern Vt., upstate N.Y. housing

A nonprofit group is using a $1 million award from the Northern Border Regional Commission to build and renovate rental apartments in Vermont and upstate New York.

The Caledonian Recordreportsthe Northern Forest Center will use that award to build in St. Johnsbury and Tupper Lake, New York. The plan would create 18 housing units between the two locations.

The center is currently building six, two-bedroom apartments in downtown Lancaster, New Hampshire.

The Northern Border Regional Commission is a federal-state partnership focused on economic development in northern New England and upstate New York.

- Associated Press

Correction 4:40 p.m. 1/26/2021: This post has been updated to reflect that while there are 49,000 total Vermonters who are 75 and older and therefore eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, 7,000 of those people have already had the chance to get a vaccine as residents of long-term care facilities.

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