Vermont Coronavirus Updates For Monday, June 1
Vermont reporters provide a round-up of ongoing local coverage of coronavirus for Monday, June 1.
Currently no one hospitalized in Vermont for COVID-19
According to Vermont health officials, no one was hospitalized for COVID-19 Monday, though 16 people are currently considered "hospitalized under investigation."
Of 1,326 new tests for the coronavirus, two came back positive, and more than 35,000 tests have now been performed.
There have been no new deaths associated with COVID-19 reported in a week, and 55 people have died so far. A total of 880 people are reported to have recovered.
- Elodie Reed
Scott announces task force on racial inequality
A statewide task force focused on racial inequity in Vermont began its work Monday.
While the state has been planning the group for months, the launch comes after a weekend of national protests over police violence. The outrage came after a video last week showed a white Minnesota police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a black man who later died.
Gov. Phil Scott says Vermont’s task force will first look at racial disparities in the state’s rate of COVID-19 infections and deaths and then address other issues.
“It will review current state and federal law on hate speech, and contemplate ways to encourage Vermonters from a range of racial and ethnic groups to run and serve in public office at all levels,” Scott said.
He added appointments to the task force will be announced next week. Read the full story, here.
- Liam Elder-Connors
Health Commissioner: Stay socially distant while protesting
Vermont’s Health Commissioner is asking people to practice physical distancing and other COVID-19 mitigation measures when protesting.
Hundreds of people in Burlington rallied this weekend to protest police brutality – the event came in response to a video of a Minneapolis police offer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a black man who later died.
Commissioner Mark Levine says large gatherings, like the protest in Burlington, could increase the spread of the coronavirus.
“Many have noted that the participants were by and large wearing masks, which we applaud. But of course we are concerned about the size of gatherings and lack of social distancing,” Levine said.
Gov. Phil Scott condemned the killing of Floyd and said he was pleased that protests in Vermont were peaceful. Read the full story, here.
- Liam Elder-Connors
More economic reopenings may come, though Winooski "cluster" remains
Gov. Phil Scott says he hopes to announce more economic re-openings this week as the spread of COVID-19 in Vermont remains low.
Starting Monday, people can gather in groups up to 25 and close contact businesses, like gyms and spas are allowed to re-open, at limited capacity.
Currently restaurants can only offer outdoor dining — but Scott says that might change soon.
“If everything continues to move in the right direction, we’ll include steps to allow for indoor dining at restaurants soon,” Scott. “And I hope to have an update for how we can continue to ramp up our hospitality industry in the weeks ahead.”
While the Health Department only reported two new cases out of more than 1,300 hundred tests Monday, Health Commissioner Mark Levine also announced COVID-19 testing will be available all week in Winooski.
This follows the Health Department finding a cluster of cases in the city. Levine says there are now at least seven coronavirus infections associated with the group.
Anyone living in Winooski, he said, can get a free test this week at the O’Brien Community Center.
“The testing that we’re providing is really extension of what we’re doing statewide, but clearly when you found a cluster, it’s best to make it convenient at the moment and that’s why we’re gearing up there,” Levine said.
He added the cases in Winooski are not associated with an elder care facility. Read the full story, here.
- Liam Elder-Connors
DMV's learner's permit tests now online
Starting Monday, Vermonters can take their learner's permit test online. Those who pass will get their permit in the mail.
Vermont DMV commissioner Wanda Minoli made the announcement at a press conference today.
Minoli also announced that the DMV will resume driving tests Monday, June 8. Those who had tests canceled will be contacted for rescheduling.
- Sam Gale Rosen
Massage therapists, nail salons and tattoo parlors can reopen
Beginning Monday, nail salons, gyms, tattoo parlors and massage therapists can reopen pursuant to state public health guidelines.
Heather Jeromin, a massage therapist in Mendon, says things will be different. She and her clients will both wear masks, and there won’t be any lingering or chatting after a session. But she’s thrilled to be back to work.
“I'm not nervous at all,” Jeromin said. “I've been talking to a bunch of my massage therapist friends slash haircare friends, and we're all just really excited to get back. Most of us, including myself, take precautions anyway for the last 20 years. We act as though anyone coming through the door may have a potential something anyway. So I'm good. I'm very excited to see my people today."
She did mention it may be an adjustment for people receiving massages to find a comfortable way to breath with a mask on.
"I don't know who's gonna have trouble when they're face-down,” Jeromin said. “If you've ever had a massage, face-down in that headpiece can be trying to have a proper breath anyway, sometimes. But we're gonna do our best. And I can always offer face-up only, or sidelining, or just loosen up the mask a little.”
Jeromin said she's taking it slow to provide more time for cleaning between clients, but added she's already booking into next week.
- Nina Keck