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Health Officials Report 23 New Cases Of COVID-19

Sign warning about coronavirus on glass door
Abagael Giles
/
VPR
A sign warns students and staff not to enter Milton Elementary if they have symptoms of coronavirus.

Vermont reporters provide a roundup of top news takeaways about the coronavirus, the Nov. 3 General Election and more for Monday, Nov. 2.

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1. 23 new cases of COVID-19

The Vermont Department of Health reported 23 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. According to the data from the department, the state identified 123 new cases in Chittenden County over the last 14 days. Of the new cases reported Monday, 19 are in Chittenden County. Cases were also identified in Essex, Windham and Orleans counties.

Over the weekend, Vermont added more than 50 new COVID-19 cases. The Health Department tracked 14 cases Friday, another 24 on Saturday and 17 on Sunday.

Chittenden County saw 23 of those new cases, while eight other counties saw cases rise in the single digits. The county surpassed 1,000 total cases this weekend, and now has more than 100 active cases.

There are currently three people hospitalized in intensive care units in Vermont, and one person is hospitalized under investigation.

The seven-day average percent positivity rate is 0.5% statewide. The health department is currently monitoring 151 people as close contacts of confirmed cases.

- Abagael Giles and Matthew Smith

UVM Health Network still under cyberattack

The University of Vermont Health Network continues to respond to a cyberattack reported last week.

The UVM medical center in Burlington was most affected by the attack, which was carried out by Russian hackers, according to national reports.

Scheduling and record systems were compromised, and COVID-19 test results were also delayed.

Services at network's the six hospitals remain available. But appointments at UVM Medical Center are still impacted, and the health network is encouraging patients to double-check appointments with their providers this week.

President and Chief Operating Officer of UVM Medical Center Stephen Leffler told Vermont Edition on Monday they were able to perform about 50% of their normal operations last Friday.

We did about 50% of our normal operations and procedures again today. Every single day at noon, we have our clinical leaders from surgery, anesthesia, nursing and the laboratory, pathology, coming together to figure out what care needs to be delivered tomorrow and can we do it safely," he said.

Leffler said the medical center is now accepting all critical traumas, heart attacks, strokes and sick children. UVM's partner hospitals and medical centers have taken in some of the less critical patients.

Read the full story, here.
- Anna Van Dine

2. 63 cases now connected to outbreak at St. Michael's College

The COVID-19 outbreak at St. Michael's College has increased from 41 to 63 cases since Friday. The outbreak has been linked to the hockey and broomball outbreak in central Vermont.

Deputy Health Commissioner Tracy Dolan told Vermont Edition that, so far, most of the people involved in the outbreak have been compliant.

“We're continuing to work on it. We are past the point where it's just contacts, we are seeing some tertiary infection, as well as it has spread into other populations,” Dolan said.

Dolan said Vermonters must quarantine after traveling and keep social circles small to prevent outbreaks like this from occurring, especially in the colder months.

Listen to the full conversation.

- Emily Aiken

3. Ongoing legal challenges threaten Green River Reservoir

A small Vermont utility has asked federal regulators to reject a state permit for the Green River dam and reservoir.

Morrisville Water and Light controls the dam that created the 650-acre reservoir in Hyde Park. The site now includes a popular state park.

For years, the state Agency of Natural Resources has pressured the utility to limit how much water it takes from the reservoir in winter. The state set new operating conditions on the dam to protect the shoreline habitat, where fish feed and spawn.

Morrisville lost a series of legal challenges in Vermont courts. Now it has asked federal regulators to intervene.

Penny Jones is the utility's general manager. She says the utility may tear down the dam and drain the reservoir unless it gets the feds to overturn the state's environmental restrictions.

“We're hoping that if that waiver petition is successful, that we will be able to continue to operate the Green River Reservoir Dam, as we have for years,” Jones said.

A federal agency is expected to rule on Morrisville's petition by the end of the year.

Read or listen to the full story.

- John Dillon

4. 75% of the state employees to stay remote through March

The Scott Administration says thousands of state employees who have been working from home because of the pandemic will continue to do so until at least the end of March.

Administration Secretary Susanne Young said the decision will affect roughly 75% of the state's workforce in Montpelier.

Young says the Administration had hoped to bring a number of state employees back to their offices by the end of year but she says that timeframe has now been extended.

“Flu and cold season is here and we're all moving indoors and it just makes absolute sense to allow those who can tele-work to remain home and to keep the density in our state buildings in terms of number of employees low,” Young said.

Young said the decision won't affect government offices that interact directly with Vermonters like the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Tax Department.

New taskforce assigned to assess impact

The Scott Administration has created a taskforce to study the short and long term impact of having thousands of state employees permanently work at home and not return to their state offices.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic last Spring, as many as 75% of the state's workforce in Montpelier has been working from home.

Administration Secretary Susanne Young said many employees have indicated a desire to continue to telework once there are no longer health and safety concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think it is definitely going to make a change,” Young said. “I can't see us going back to, what we would call normal before the pandemic, but I guess I also don't foresee being totally remote either, so somewhere in between [is likely the outcome we’ll see]."  

Young said the taskforce hopes to have recommendations by the end of the year.

- Bob Kinzel

5. Six cows shot and killed in Orwell Friday night

Vermont State Police say six cows were apparently shot and killed in Orwell late Friday night.

Troopers located six deceased cows with apparent bullet wounds after responding to a report of several people in a pickup truck firing at the animals.

Several local farms in the area were contacted, but authorities were unable to locate the owner of the cows.

State police provided no updates Sunday morning but asked anyone with information to call the New Haven Barracks.

- Nina Keck

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