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Vermont News Updates For Thursday, September 3

A grave with tokens on top
Peter Crabtree
/
For VPR
Sobriety tokens mark the grave of William Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, in the East Dorset Cemetery last week. AA members receive the coins to commemorate the number of hours, days, months and years they have been sober.

Vermont reporters provide a roundup of ongoing local coverage of the coronavirus, a plan to test Burlington's wastewater for COVID-19 and more for Thursday, September 3.

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The latest coronavirus data:

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Seven more people test positive for COVID-19

The Vermont Department of Health is reporting seven new cases of COVID-19 Thursday. Four of those cases are in Chittenden County, and there is one each in Franklin, Bennington, and Washington counties. Another 1,778 people tested negative for the disease.

To date, 140,481 people have been tested for COVID-19. One person in Vermont is hospitalized with the disease,1,436 are reported to have recovered and 58 people have died.

- Anna Van Dine and Elodie Reed

Burlington to test wastewater for COVID

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger says the city has started a pilot program to test municipal wastewater for traces of COVID-19.

“Testing of our wastewater has the potential to detect changes in virus levels circulating in the city,” Weinberger said.

At a press conference Wednesday, the mayor said people show signs of the virus in their stool before exhibiting symptoms of the disease.

Burlington has three wastewater treatment plants.

- Howard Weiss-Tisman

UVM students to participate in "die-in" Thursday afternoon

Thursday afternoon, several campus organizations at the University of Vermont are holding a demonstration on the Burlington campus.

The university's Union of Students, Black Lives Matter UVM, and UVM United Against Cuts plan a joint march and die-in. They are protesting university budget cuts and UVM’s relationship with the Burlington Police Department. And they're also calling on the school to address racial justice issues. 

Ari Kotler is a UVM senior involved with the event.

“We’re trying to meet the current moment, which people in power have not done,” Kotler said. “It falls on students and their allies in the community to intensify the struggle for social and racial justice."

Following the on-campus demonstration, protesters plan to join the group at Battery Park in their 10th night of calling for the firing of three Burlington Police officers.

- Anna Van Dine

Welch says he's worried about Russian election interference

Congressman Peter Welch says he's concerned that the FBI has discovered efforts by a number of Russian groups to interfere in the 2020 presidential election.

Welch, who is a member of the House Intelligence Committee, says federal officials have uncovered a Russian disinformation campaign posing as a legitimate news website.

"The best information we have is that they're doing this election what they did in 2016, and as much as anything, the goal on the part of Russia and I think others is to create more discord in the United States so the people lose confidence in our democratic system – that's the real threat," he said. 

Welch said he’s extremely disappointed that President Trump has suspended all Congressional briefings on the matter.

The president says he's ending the briefings because some members of the intelligence committees have been leaking information to reporters. But Welch thinks most of the information should be made public unless it's a matter of national security.

“I mean I'd be happy if the intelligence services did a public briefing so that all American people and journalists would hear in real time what information we had about foreign interference,” Welch said. “I'd like the voters to know."

- Bob Kinzel

Parents can decide to home school any time

As K-12 schools get ready to open Tuesday, home schooling in Vermont continues to rise in popularity, with numbers up 100% from last year.

Vermont Home Education Network President Retta Dunlap told Vermont Edition that many parents are struggling to decide if they want to leave the public school system, and aren't aware that they can make the decision at any time.

"Parents out there who are still considering, there is no date that you have to meet,” Dunlap said. “There is no deadline for enrolling. You can enroll any time during the calendar year."

Dunlap says once home schooling enrollment forms are submitted to the Agency of Education, the state has 45 days to respond, and after that 45 day period is over, enrollment becomes official.

Listen to the full interview.

- Emily Aiken

Air National Guard deploying

More than 70 members of the Vermont Air National Guard are going to be headed overseas for deployments that will last up to six months.

The airmen from the 158th Fighter Wing will begin deploying this month in small groups to multiple locations. The Guard did not say specifically where they will be going, but they will be supporting the U.S. Central, European and Africa commands.

The airmen are from support units and their duties will include logistics, civil engineering, communications, contracting, supply, ground transportation, air transportation and medical. The deployments will not affect the operations of the Vermont Air Guard's F-35 aircraft. 

- Associated Press

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