News Roundup: Just Over 77% Of Vermonters 12 & Older Have Had At Least One COVID-19 Vaccine Dose

May 26, 2021

Vermont reporters provide a roundup of top news takeaways about the coronavirus, remembering George Floyd and more for Wednesday, May 26.

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The latest coronavirus data:

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1. Vt. Dept. of Health reports 26 new COVID-19 cases

State health officials reported 26 new COVID-19 infections across Vermont on Wednesday.

Nine of Vermont's counties had zero or just one new case of the virus. No counties saw more than seven new infections.

The numbers come as Vermont's daily case counts continue to fall. On Tuesday, just nine new cases were reported statewide.

Currently 11 people are hospitalized due to the virus, including two people in intensive care.

The latest CDC data – which Vermont is using for its vaccination goals – shows just over 77% of Vermonters 12 and older have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

That means just over 15,000 more people need a first dose to hit the state's 80% goal.

- Matthew Smith

2. Gov. Scott says he will not challenge Sen. Leahy for U.S. Senate seat

Gov. Phil Scott is signaling that he does not intend to challenge Patrick Leahy for his seat in the U.S. Senate next year, if Leahy decides to seek re-election.

In fact, Scott is encouraging Leahy to run for a ninth term.

Scott is viewed as the strongest GOP candidate in the state, and some Republican officials were hoping that he would challenge Leahy.

But at his Tuesday COVID-19 press briefing, Scott reiterated his support for Vermont's senior senator.

“Would you like to see senator Leahy run for re-election next year?” a reporter asked.

“Yes,” the governor replied.

“That's a remarkable economy of words.”

News outlet Politico this week reported Leahy has indicated to some colleagues that he intends to run again in 2022.

But in an interview with VPR, the senator said he hasn't yet made a final decision.

- Bob Kinzel

3. Governor expresses disappointment over stalled Act 250 review

Gov. Phil Scott says he's disappointed lawmakers didn't pass legislation this session to streamline the state's landmark development control law.

The House and Senate took hours of testimony, but couldn't agree on a common approach to change the Act 250 permit process.

Scott has praised legislative leaders for their bipartisan approach on many key issues during the recent session but, he says, this is one area where he thinks they failed to respond to an urgent concern.

“That didn't make it out of the gate and that's something that we need to address,” Soctt said. “It's going to be a bottleneck, has been a bottleneck and will continue to be a bottleneck, unless we address this 50-year-old law that needs to be updated."

Scott thinks Vermont's economy will suffer if lawmakers don't address this issue next winter.

- Bob Kinzel

4. Castleton Middle School to close as Slate Valley Unified consolidates

Castleton's middle school is closing as part of a consolidation in the Slate Valley Unified School District.

The school board voted this week to close Castleton Village School by June of next year. Sixth graders there will shift back to Castleton Elementary, while 7th and 8th graders from Castleton and other district towns will head to Fair Haven Union High School.

Construction of a dedicated middle school at the Fair Haven campus is expected to start next month, in June.

School board officials say the consolidation was necessary due to falling enrollment and staff shortages.

The Slate Valley Unified School District is moving forward with plans to create a district middle school.

WCAX reports the district's school board voted Monday to send 7th and 8th graders from Fair Haven, Castleton, Orwell and Benson to Fair Haven Union High School by the fall of 2022.

School board officials say the change will address falling enrollment, staff shortages and deferred maintenance at district buildings.

The board also voted to close Castleton Village School by June of next year. Sixth graders there will shift back to Castleton Elementary.

- Matthew Smith

5. Bill that would establish a rental property registry falls short this session

A bill that would create a rental property registry in Vermont did not make it out of Statehouse this year.

Seven Days reports the legislation would have required owners of both short-term and long-term rental units to register their units for $35-a-piece.

The fees would help pay for safety inspectors.

The bill's proponents say the measure would help the short-term rental industry to become more professional, with standards and health and safety inspections similar to those of other states and countries.

Some opponents rejected the registry as a form of government overreach that might be too onerous for landlords.

Advocates are hopeful they can revisit the legislation when lawmakers return next January.

- Brittany Patterson

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