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The home for VPR's coverage of health and health industry issues affecting the state of Vermont.

Vermont Coronavirus Updates For The Weekend Of May 16-17

Cow sign for social distancing at Shelburne Farms
Abagael Giles
/
VPR
On Saturday, signs at Shelburne Farms called for hikers to wear masks and keep at least one Brown Swiss Cow's worth of distance between themselves and others.

Vermont reporters provide a round-up of ongoing local coverage of coronavirus for Saturday, May 16 and Sunday, May 17.

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State health officials report one additional death from COVID-19 over the weekend

As of the morning on Sunday, May 17, 940 people had tested positive for the new coronavirus in Vermont. Just three people were hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 11 people were hospitalized under investigation.

A total of 810 people have now recovered from confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Vermont, and there have been 54 deaths in the state, one of which was reported over the weekend.

State health officials have now conducted 22,276 tests, with pop-up testing sites happening this weekend and scheduled across the state in the coming weeks. At those sites, asymptomatic residents can register in advance to be tested for the coronavirus.

Abagael Giles

For a timeline of the state's response to COVID-19, head here.

Retailers prepare to reopen for in-person business Monday

After a nearly two-month shut down because of COVID-19, many retailers can reopen Monday for in-person business, if they follow strict guidelines on facial coverings, social distancing and limited capacities.

All employees will be required to wear a facial covering, stores will have to limit occupancy and everyone — customers and employees — must maintain six feet of social distance.

Jerry Henrichon has owned Park Place Florist in Rutland for 39 years. Because it's an outdoor garden center, he was able to open two weeks ago, and says he's slowly getting the hang of retail amid a pandemic.

Signs about face coverings and social distancing are everywhere and a staff member keeps track of how many shoppers are coming and going.

With 30% of his annual sales coming between March and May, the shutdown has hit hard. But he's supported it. 

"On the whole, I've found that most of our customers are, number one, thankful that we're open and offering plants, and number two, very gracious [about being asked to] sit on a lawn chair out at the gate for a few minutes and wait for someone to leave," Henrichson said.

Proctor resident Kris Carter wore a gray mask as she picked up flowers at Park Place Florist and Garden Center on Sunday. 

"I think the owners of these retail businesses have a responsibility too, and when they see something that's not being followed to the rule," Carter said, "they ned to say, 'No, you can't come in,' or 'You need to follow the rules,' or 'I'm sorry, we can't help you.'"

Henrichson hopes that with more retail stores opening this week, traffic will increase heading into the vital Memorial Day Weekend.

Vermont now has the lowest coronavirus growth rate in the country — a success Gov. Phil Scott attributes to Vermonters faithfully following the current health guidelines. 

But some shops are being extra cautious. Tod Gross, manager of Phoenix Books in Burlington, said they've developed a comprehensive plan to reopen that they believe will keep their staff and customers safe. But they won't allow in-person browsing at any of their stores until May 26.

"What we've seen everywhere that has opened up is a resugence in the virus," Gross said. "And I would anticipate that would happen in our communities as we open up. The question is, what can we do to minimize that resurgence? And I think the more people are safe and the more people respect each other, the less we'll see the virus resugent in our community."

Gross said online purchases and curbside pickup at their stores in Rutland, Essex and Burlington will continue.

 
- Nina Keck

Dorset manufacturer makes face masks and wood ware products

For 75 years, J.K. Adams, a family-owned business in Dorset, has manufactured a line of woodware products, like cutting boards and wine racks. 

But when the COVID-19 outbreak started they decided to produce protective face shields for front line workers. 

Now, according to CEO Daniel Isaac, they continue to run a full shift for shields, while on another, they've resumed their wood products. 

"And we're gearing up to add a third shift as well, as the demand for PPE continues to increase. So our mill will be working 24 hours-a-day pretty soon," Isaac said.

Isaac said more products, including a face shield that can be sanitized and reused, are in development.

Betty Smith

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