Vermont News Updates For Tuesday, September 15

Sep 15, 2020

Vermont reporters provide a roundup of ongoing local coverage of the coronavirus, ongoing protests in Burlington  and more for Tuesday, September 15.

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The latest coronavirus data:

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Seven more people test positive for COVID-19

The number of people who have tested positive for the coronavirus in Vermont has passed 1,700, according to the Department of Health. As of Tuesday, that number was at 1,702.

The department reported seven new cases, three in Chittenden County, two in Washington County, and one each in Lamoille and Rutland Counties. Another 497 people tested negative.

Two people in Vermont are in the hospital with COVID-19. The state hasn’t reported a new death in 47 days, and 58 total people have died after contracting the disease.

- Anna Van Dine and Elodie Reed

Burlington demonstrators hold "Occupy Church Street" on 21st day of protest

About 100 demonstrators gathered outside Burlington's City Hall Monday evening and staged what they called “Occupy Church Street.”

It was the 21st day of protests demanding the firing of city police officers Joseph Corrow, Cory Campbell and Jason Bellavance.

More from VPR: Progressive City Councilor On Protests, Policing In Burlington

The three officers were investigated following use-of-force incidents in 2018 and 2019 that involved Black residents as well as a white man who later died. Both city and police officials have said the three officers cannot be fired without breaking the union contract.

A city council committee will meet Wednesday, however, to discuss who makes disciplinary decisions on police conduct.

- Elodie Reed

Nation's leading expert in infectious diseases praises Vermont pandemic response, reminds all to remain vigilant

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading expert on the COVID-19 pandemic, says Vermont has set an example that the rest of the country should follow.

Fauci heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, and spoke by video at Gov. Phil Scott's press briefing Tuesday. He said Vermont's success is because the public faithfully followed prevention advice, such as wearing masks, avoiding crowds, and keeping physically distant from each other.

“This should be a model for the country, for how you've done it, not withstanding that you're a small state,” Fauci said. “But it should be a model for how you get to such a low test positivity that you can actually start to open up the economy in a safe and prudent way.”

But Fauci also urged Vermonters not to let down their guard. He says the coronavirus is a "formidable foe" that will seize any opportunity to spread.

In addition to praising Vermont’s pandemic response, Fauci said approval of a coronavirus vaccine will not be rushed by politics, and will only be given to the public after it's shown to be safe and effective.

“If there is a vaccine, which I'm fairly certain there will be, that's safe and effective, I for one would not hesitate to take it, nor would I hesitate to recommend that my entire family do it,” he said. “So I feel good about it.”

Fauci says an independent panel of scientists will judge whether the vaccine is safe. He says that panel is not beholden to the vaccine developers or the government.

- John Dillon

More from Brave Little State: When It's Ready, Who Gets The COVID-19 Vaccine First?

Rutland's Project Vision issues statement supporting local NAACP president

Joe Kraus, Chairman of Rutland’s Project Vision, a community organization with about 500 members, released a statement Monday saying the group stands firmly behind Tabitha Moore.

Moore, who heads the NAACP in Rutland, announced she is selling her home in Wallingford after 11 years because she said she and her family had come under attack.

In an interview with VTDigger, Moore said things had reached a breaking point when her teenaged daughter began receiving threats after asking the Mill River Union School Board to raise the Black Lives Matter flag.

Kraus said he doesn’t know Moore, but that the group could not remain silent in the face of intolerance and intimidation.

“What if this was my daughter or my sister – how would I feel and more importantly what would I do?” Kraus said. “Because good intentions without good actions really get you nowhere.”

He says the group is encouraging people in Rutland to stand up and talk more openly about racism in the community.

- Nina Keck

More from Brave Little State: How To Support Vermonters Of Color: 'Listen To Us'

Secretary of State: Mail-in ballots will be sent to all active, registered voters, no need to request

Secretary of State Jim Condos says it's unfortunate that the U.S. Postal Service has sent postcards to all Vermont voters containing some inaccurate voting information. But Condos doesn't believe it will hurt participation in the November election.

A postcard was sent to voters in all 50 states reminding them they could "request a mail in ballot at least 15 days before the election."

Vermont is one of nine states where ballots will automatically be sent to all active registered voters, and no request is needed.

Condos says the postcard fails to take into consideration that states determine election laws.

“And that's kind of difficult to do when all 50 states have 50 different sets of election laws,” he said. “The important parts of this are, start today give yourself and your election officials ample time to complete the process."   

Condos says ballots will begin to be sent out next Monday and that the process could take a week.

- Bob Kinzel

More from VPR: Federal Lawsuit Challenges Constitutionality Of Vermont's Vote-By-Mail Plan For 2020

Interstate 89 bridge construction to begin today

Work is about to start on repairs to two bridges that carry Interstate 89 traffic between New Hampshire and Vermont.

The New Hampshire Department of Transportation said the bridges carry traffic between Lebanon, New Hampshire, and Hartford, Vermont over the Connecticut River, and New England Central and Washington County railroads. The work is scheduled to start Tuesday.

The $43.8 million project is scheduled to be completed by September 26, 2025.

- Associated Press

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