Vermont Sees 46 New Cases Of COVID-19, 20 Active Outbreaks
Vermont reporters provide a roundup of top news takeaways about the coronavirus, national election polling and more for Tuesday, Nov. 10.
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The latest coronavirus data:
1. 46 new cases of COVID-19 and 20 outbreaks
On Tuesday, state officials reported 46 new cases of COVID-19. To date, 2,462 people have tested positive for the disease in Vermont.
Of the new cases, 12 were identified in Washington County, and six were identified in Chittenden County. Caledonia and Orleans counties each saw five new cases Tuesday. Windsor, Orange and Grand Isle counties each saw four new cases. Essex County saw three new cases. Windham, Rutland and Addison counties each saw one new case.
There are currently 12 people hospitalized with active cases in the state. Of those hospitalized, four are being treated in intensive care units.
State health officials are monitoring 230 people as close contacts of confirmed cases.
To date, 59 people have died of COVID-19 in Vermont. The state reported one new death due to the disease over the weekend - the first since July.
- Abagael Giles
State officials now monitoring 20 separate outbreaks
Vermont recorded about 200 new cases of COVID-19 over the past week, and Vermont's top health officials says Vermont is on the precipice of a new surge in coronavirus cases.
Commissioner of Health Mark Levine said Tuesday his department is now monitoring 20 separate outbreaks across the state.
"So COVID is clearly among us, and it is spreading," he said.
Levine said non-essential out-of-state travel and small indoor gatherings are two main drivers for the spike in cases in Vermont.
"We are truly on a threshold here, and the decisions we make today will truly determine our future," he said. "And I don't mean our long-term future; I mean our immediate future."
The Scott administration announced new rules Tuesday that limit interstate travel. The state is also launching a surveillance testing program for COVID-19 at public schools.
- Peter Hirschfeld
Latest wave of COVID-19 cases is hitting vulnerable populations
COVID-19 infections are on the rise in Vermont, and health officials say the latest wave is hitting higher-risk populations.
Commissioner of Financial Regulation Michael Pieciak said Tuesday the average age of Vermonters diagnosed with COVID-19 over the past two weeks is over 50.
"Again, those that are older are more vulnerable to significant or severe complications, so that's something that is also concerning to us," Pieciak said.
The number of people hospitalized in Vermont with COVID-19 is at its highest point since early May.
The Scott administration announced a slate of new measures Tuesday, to halt the growth in infections.
- Peter Hirschfeld
2. Public school teachers to undergo surveillance testing
Teachers and staff at public schools in Vermont will soon undergo mass testing for COVID-19.
Commissioner of Health Mark Levine said the new surveillance testing program will help the state gauge the prevalence of the coronvirus in Vermont.
"So that that will allow us to quickly contain it and prevent the kinds of clusters and outbreaks we are seeing," Levine said.
Under the new state-funded program, every school staff member in Vermont will be tested at least once per month.
Levine said school staff members will not be required to participate in the testing program.
- Peter Hirschfeld
Marlboro Elementary School students in quarantine
Marlboro Elementary School's junior high students are in quarantine this week, after a positive COVID-19 test by a student over the weekend.
The Brattleboro Reformer reports 16 students and three staff for seventh and eighth grades are among those in isolation.
A letter from the school principal informed parents Monday that Marlboro School will move to remote learning through the end of the week.
Williamstown students move to remote learning
Williamstown students are learning remotely this week, following three unrelated COVID-19 cases in the K-12 community.
The Times Argus reports the confirmed cases come amid reports of other students and parents also testing positive.
Williamstown Elementary School and Williamstown Middle and High schools are closed this week, as students learn remotely.
The remote week for students in all schools was declared Sunday, after a second and third suspected case were confirmed over the weekend.
- Matthew Smith
3. Vermont State Police to conduct random COVID-19 compliance checks
Vermont State Police will begin conducting random COVID-19 compliance checks at bars, restaurants and lodging facilities later this week.
Commissioner of Public Safety Michael Schirling said his department will try to educate establishments on public health guidelines. But he said police may resort to enforcement action if necessary.
"If substantial noncompliance is found, multiple violations, staff or ownership that are actively resistent to education efforts or public safety guidance, referrals may be made to the attorney general's office," Schirling said.
New travel guidelines issued Tuesday prohibit anyone from entering the state without undergoing a 14-day quarantine.
Schirling said lodging facilities are responsible for making sure out-of-state visitors comply with that guidance.
- Peter Hirschfeld
4. Inter-state travel without quarantine suspended
As COVID-19 case counts rise across the country, Gov. Phil Scott is trying to shut down all non-essential travel to Vermont. Scott says inter-state travel threatens to increase the prevalence of the coronavirus in Vermont.
"So, as of today, we're temporarily suspending our travel map, and requiring a 14-day qurarantine, or seven days and a negative test, for any non-essential travel into Vermont," Scott said.
Scott's previous travel policy allowed people from certain counties in the Northeast to enter Vermont without having to self-quarantine.
Scott said state police and other public safety officials will conduct random check-ins to make sure lodging facilities comply with the travel guidelines.
- Peter Hirschfeld
Hunters must follow state travel restrictions
Vermont's rifle season for deer hunting starts Saturday, and the Agency of Natural Resources is urging hunters to abide by COVID-19 safety measures, like mask wearing and social distancing.
Hunters are encouraged to use the Fish and Wildlife online system to report deer.
Individuals traveling to out-of-state hunting camps must follow quarantine guidelines upon return. And health officials discourage social gatherings that often happen at hunting camps.
- Karen Anderson
5. Local polling expert weighs in on national, local polling
Some national and state polls in the presidential race missed the outcome of the election by significant margins, but a poll in Vermont was close to the actual vote count.
VPR and Vermont PBS commissioned a September poll within several points of the outcome in the races for president, governor and lieutenant governor and congressional representative.
Castleton University political science professor Rich Clark led the poll and said, in one case, the poll had an error in the opposite direction of many national polls.
"We slightly overestimated the Trump vote and underestimated Biden's vote in our poll, which is different, I guess, from the national polls, where they're looking at underestimating the Trump vote," Clark said.
Clark said he's generally seen a higher rate of Vermonters responding to polls, compared to residents of other states.
- Henry Epp
6. Vermont's election results are now official
The Secretary of State's office released official election results Tuesday. The certified vote totals confirm unofficials results tallied last week, with incumbent Gov. Phil Scott claiming nearly 70% of the vote - a 40% lead over Progressive/Democrat David Zuckerman.
Official state results also confirm the victory of Democrat Molly Gray over Republican Scott Milne in the race for lieutenant governor, with 49.28% of the vote, compared with Milne's 42.34%
All of Vermont's official election results can be found on the Secretary of State's website.
- Karen Anderson
More Vermonters voted in last week's election than ever before.
In certifying all local, state and federal election results, Secretary of State Jim Condos noted more than 372,000 people cast their ballots this year.
This represents just over 73% of all active registered voters.
Condos said the election marked the first time all voters were sent a ballot and said the new system worked well.
"Things went smoothly," he said. "The numbers came in that night. I think we were at 98% by about midnight, one o-clock in the morning, of all the precincts reporting. We were very pleased with how it went, overall."
Condos said just over 75% of all ballots were cast by mail, also setting a new state record.
That number smashes previous early voter participation records.
Condos said he thinks the numbers show Vermonters support the approach of mailing a ballot to every active registered voter.
"We had 372,000 ballots that were cast," he said. "Of those, 280,000 were absentee or early vote ballots, so that just shows you how Vermonters also embraced the concept."
The Legislature this winter will consider if it wants to keep the current system in place for the next statewide election in 2022.
- Bob Kinzel
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