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Vermont Tallies 2 New COVID-19 Deaths, 101 New Cases

White sign that reads Hang In There Neighbors in red, on a green lawn
Nina Keck
/
VPR
Neighbors across the street from Rutland Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, which was the site of a coronavirus outbreak in November that led to the deaths of multiple residents.

Vermont reporters provide a roundup of top news takeaways about the coronavirus and more for Wednesday, Dec. 2.

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1. Vermont Department of Health reports 101 new COVID-19 cases

Vermont saw more than 100 new COVID-19 infections Wednesday, and two additional deaths.

Today's virus-related deaths are the fifteenth and sixteenth in the last month, and bring the pandemic's death toll in the state to 74. 

Today's tally of 101 new cases also marks the first day Vermont has topped 100 new cases in nearly two weeks.

Of the new cases, 55 were in Chittenden County. Caledonia County saw 11 new infections.

There are now 23 people hospitalized with COVID-19, including four people who are being treated in the ICU.

Burlington opens new COVID testing facility

The city of Burlington has officially opened a new facility offering free COVID-19 testing.

WCAX reporters Mayor Miro Weinberger announced Tuesday the new Pine Street facility can conduct up to 250 tests per day. 

Results could come within one or two days.

The city plans to keep the testing facility open through the end of the month, but it could stay open longer. 

UVM men's hockey players test positive

The University of Vermont men's hockey is on pause after four members of the program tested positive for COVID-19.

The Burlington Free Press reports the cases were among the team's Tier 1 personnel, which includes players, coaches, managers and support staff.

The results were detected during the program's regular testing regiment and announced by the university Monday.

The school said the men's hockey team is following state and local guidelines to contain the outbreak.

Matthew Smith

Franklin County schools respond to positive COVID tests

Schools across Franklin County are adjusting to schedule changes due to the coronavirus. 

The St. Albans Messenger reports the Franklin Northeast Supervisory Union saw seven positive COVID-19 tests in students and staff across multiple schools over the Thanksgiving break.

All district schools are now following stricter health measures and closing congregate areas like gyms and cafeterias, but no schools have closed.

In Swanton, the preschool is going fully remote until late next week, as a result of a positive case at the school. 

Meanwhile, this week, the Maple Run Unified School District is expanding fifth and sixth grades to four in-person days of instruction per week.

Matthew Smith

N.H. lawmakers test positive following caucus meeting

A small number of Republican lawmakers in New Hampshire have tested positive for the coronavirus after a caucus meeting.

It comes a day before the 400-member House and 24-member Senate are set to meet outdoors at the University of New Hampshire to be sworn in and elect officers.

House Republican leader Dick Hinch declined to discuss details or numbers, but said he's working with state health officials as they conduct contact tracing.

The Granite State has seen more than 21,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 520 deaths to date.

The Associated Press

Governor of Maine in quarantine

Maine's governor is quarantining after she was potentially exposed to COVID-19.

Gov. Janet Mills says she's quarantining until Dec. 12. She currently has no symptoms.

She's believed to have been exposed to the virus by a member of the executive protection unit, after being in a car together with face coverings for less than 10 minutes. That person later developed symptoms of COVID-19.

Mills had been scheduled to swear in the Maine Legislature Wednesday. Acting Maine Supreme Court Justice Andew Mead will do it instead.

Maine reported 20 deaths from the virus Tuesday, bringing its total number of deaths to 214.

The Associated Press

2. Did you attend a Thanksgiving gathering? Quarantine and get tested - twice

Vermonters who attended multi-household Thanksgiving gatherings against the governor's executive order are urged to quarantine and get tested for COVID-19.

Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said Tuesday, it is important to get tested immediately.

"If you did gather, you should quarantine and get tested. It's best to get tested right away, and again on day seven or later," Levine said.

He said health officials are currently following 39 outbreaks statewide, and 185 "situations," including one connected to a Thanksgiving dinner party, celebrated early.

Levine reminded Vermonters that Gov. Phil Scott's order banning multi-household gatherings remains in effect.

Matthew Smith

More from Vermont Edition: Vermont Health Officials To Thanksgiving Gatherers: 'Quarantine, Get Tested'

3. Vt.'s congressman 'cautiously optimistic' stimulus will pass within two weeks

Congressman Peter Welch says he is now "cautiously optimistic" that Congress will pass a new COVID-19 economic stimulus bill in the next two weeks.

Welch says a new bi-partisan Senate proposal offers critical grants to businesses, individuals and local governments on a short-term business.

While the legislation is not the comprehensive package that Welch has been supporting in recent weeks, he says it will help sustain many groups until a vaccine is widely available.

"So aid is really essential, so that when we do get to the other side of the virus, our small businesses, our families, our state and local governments are there to fight another day, and are as strong as they can be, with the assistance of federal aid," Welch said.

He said the plan is to include the proposal in a massive budget bill that needs to pass by Dec. 11.

Bob Kinzel

4. Lawmakers move to reduce required training for cosmetologists

Aspiring cosmetologists in Vermont now have an easier path to professional certification. 

Lawmakers have approved a new rule that significantly reduces the number of training hours that barbers, hair stylists and manicurists need to become certified.

Gabriel Gilman of the Office of Professional Regulation, said, "The effort here was to make sure that a graduate of one of our career technical centers, or the private beauty school, for that matter, can walk right into licensure without significant delays and without the considerable expense that folks were encountering."

Gilman says the new rules will make it less expensive and time-consuming for Vermonters to enter the cosmetology industry.

Peter Hirschfeld

5. Legislative leaders oppose efforts to change timing of inaugural address

As legislative leaders finalize details for the opening of the session in January, they're opposing a plan to change the time of the governor's inaugural address.

Traditionally, the address is given on the afternoon of the second day, to a joint assembly of the House and Senate.

This year, the Scott Administration floated the idea of moving the speech to the evening, so it could have a larger audience.

At a meeting of the Joint Rules Committee, outgoing House Speaker Mitzi Johnson said the decision is up to the Legislature, and the address should take place as scheduled.

"And if the governor would like to have a separate event at some point that is the governor's event, that's for the executive branch to decide, but this is the Joint Assembly to the Legislature," Johnson said.

Because of health concerns surrounding the pandemic, a limited number of people will be allowed in the House chamber to hear the inaugural address; however, it will be available on a remote viewing basis.

Bob Kinzel

  

6. Department of Fish and Wildlife sees major uptick in resident fishing license sales

The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife says it sold more fishing licenses to adult Vermonters in 2020 than it had in nearly 30 years.

As Vermonters turn to the outdoors amid the pandemic, Vermont Fish and Wildlife reports more locals are buying fishing licenses.

Approximately 50,000 Vermonters bought fishing licenses in 2020, a 27% increase over 2019.

Resident youth license sales were up nearly 34% as compared with 2019.

Chris Saunders, who manages the data for VFW, said spikes in fishing license sales tend to correlate with periods of economic recession. 1987, 2001 and 2008 were similarly big years. 

License sales to out-of-state anglers remained static this year, after a decade of steady increase.

Abagael Giles

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