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News Roundup: Vermont Reports First COVID Death In Two Weeks

A white banner hanging from a streetlight reads, "I love Rutland, VT! All are welcome here!"
Nina Keck
A coalition effort has put up streetlight banners and signs around Rutland showing support for the LGBTQ and BIPOC communities.

Vermont reporters provide a roundup of top news takeaways about the coronavirus and more for Friday, June 4.

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The latest coronavirus data:


1. First COVID death in two weeks

Vermont reported its first COVID-19 death in more than two weeks today. In all, 256 Vermonters have now died from the virus.

That's as health officials report 12 new infections statewide today, and just a single person is hospitalized because of the virus.

To date, 78.6% of Vermonters 12 and older have now gotten at least one dose of a COVID vaccine.

That means just over 7,800 Vermonters need to roll up their sleeves for their first dose for the state to hit its 80% target to drop all remaining pandemic restrictions.

- Matthew Smith

2. Walk-in vaccination clinics over the weekend

As the pace of COVID-19 vaccination in Vermont slows, state officials are announcing dozens of walk-in clinics through the weekend.

Gov. Phil Scott says he'll lift all remaining pandemic restrictions once 80% of eligible Vermonters get at least one dose. Just over 7,800 people need to get a shot to hit that benchmark.

The St. Johnsbury School will offer vaccines until 4 this afternoon. And later on, Thunder Road in Barre is holding a vaccine clinic from 3 to 6:30 tonight. Shots are also available at Burlington's Jazz Fest Concert through 7 tonight.

Today and through the weekend, vaccines will be available without an appointment at Newport's North Country Hospital, the Northwestern Medical Center in St. Albans, the UVM Medical Center's clinic at the Essex Fairgrounds, and at the Rutland Regional Clinic at the Holiday Inn Conference Center.

Walk-up vaccine clinics for the tourism and hospitality sectors are planned for next week in Rutland, Stowe and Ludlow.

- Liam Elder-Connors

3. Out-of-state worker incentives?

Lawmakers have committed another $650,000 to a program that pays out-of-state workers to relocate to Vermont.

Franklin County Senator Randy Brock says businesses across the state are struggling to find qualified workers to fill open positions.

“And so what we did is created a program that said, ‘Look, let’s find some people outside of the state and incentivize them to come to Vermont to fill these jobs that we can’t fill with Vermonters,’” he said.

Those incentives will come in the form of grants to help pay for moving expenses.

Out-of-state workers who apply for those grants will be eligible for awards of up to $7,500.

- Peter Hirschfeld

4. Vermont's literacy crisis

Vermont lawmakers say the public education system is experiencing a “literacy crisis.” And legislation signed by Gov. Phil Scott includes new funding to address the problem.

Bennington County Sen. Brian Campion says 50% of Vermont’s third graders aren’t meeting proficiency targets for literacy.

“Third graders who are not reading at grade level are among the most vulnerable to drop out of school — 80% of students who failed to earn a high school diploma were struggling learners in the third grade,” he said.

Campion says some elementary school teachers enter the school system without adequate training in language arts.

And he says the new legislation sets aside funding for professional development.

- Peter Hirschfeld

5. High-speed railway negotiations continue

Over 20 members of Congress across the Northeast this week to pressure ongoing infrastructure negotiations to include funding for a high-speed passenger rail proposal that would get commuters from New York to Boston in 100 minutes.

It is known as the North Atlantic Rail network. The project would expand regional electric rail service throughout Connecticut and the rest of New England.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin says the project would be completed over multiple stages, including “long-overdue improvements” to existing rail lines.

“We can't be deterred by that. We have to make sure that we are still capable of doing the big, bold things that are critical to our economic competitiveness and to tackling climate change in a meaningful way in the decades ahead,” he said.

The high-speed train would start from New York City, and link Hartford, Providence and Boston.

- Mark Davis

6. A stuck truck

A tractor trailer got stuck in Smugglers Notch yesterday — closing the narrow Notch route for five hours.

The Agency of Transportation says Route 108 through the Notch had to be shut down around 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon on both the Stowe and Cambridge sides as a result.

The driver of the truck, from Duluth, Georgia, was ticketed for impeding traffic.

VTDigger reports state officials estimate about seven trucks get lodged in the narrow Notch road each year.

In 2016, nearly a dozen such trucks got stuck.

- Matthew Smith

This roundup was compiled and edited by Marlon Hyde.

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