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Vermont Reports 65 New COVID Cases, 2 New Deaths

A mail carrier delivers on a street in Newport
Elodie Reed
/
VPR
Mail carrier Louise Campbell makes her rounds along Main Street in Newport on Monday, Nov. 30

Vermont reporters provide a roundup of top news takeaways about the coronavirus, policing reform, the Burlington mayor's race and more for Monday, Dec. 7.Want VPR's daily news in podcast form? Get up to speed in under 15 minutes with The Frequency every weekday morning. How about an email newsletter? Add our daily email briefing to your morning routine.

The latest coronavirus data:

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1. Vermont sees 65 new COVID-19 cases, two new deaths

Vermont saw 65 new COVID-19 cases and two virus-related deaths Monday.

The deaths bring the pandemic's toll in the state to 81. 

Today's new cases were mostly in Chittenden County, where 20 more people have tested positive for COVID-19.

Along with the weekend's 247 new cases, Vermont has now seen more than 5,000 COVID-19 infections since March.

26 people are hospitalized with the diseases as of today, including six cases in the ICU.

Matthew Smith

Vermont saw 247 cases over the weekend

Vermont saw two COVID-19 deaths and a total of 247 new cases over the weekend.

The two additional deaths bring the statewide death toll to 79 since the pandemic first hit Vermont.

Health officials reported 127 new infections Saturday and 120 on Sunday.

Chittenden, Washington and Franklin counties saw the highest number of cases over the past two weeks.

Matthew Smith

Cases continue to climb in Quebec

Quebec saw nearly 1,700 new cases Sunday, down from a record of more than 2,000 reported Saturday.

The province also saw an especially deadly weekend when it comes to the virus. On Sunday, 24 deaths were reported, after 48 deaths on Saturday.

The province remains the most hard-hit in Canada, with more than 151,000 cases to date.

More than 7,200 people have died in Quebec from COVID-19 so far, nearly double the death toll of neighboring Ontario province.

Matthew Smith

2. Burlington City Council weighs plan to create new civilian oversight of police

The Burlington City Council is considering a plan to increase civilian oversight of its police force.

On Monday night, the council could vote to put the plan on the Town Meeting Day ballot.

The proposal would create a new civilian panel that would have broad authority to investigate any allegations of police misconduct. The board would have the authority to issue subpoenas to compel witness to testify or get documents.

The group would also be able to issue disciplinary decisions, including firing officers. 

Members of the seven-person board would not be allowed to have any ties to law enforcement. The board would also be required to have diverse members, including at least three members who are Black or Indigenous.

The proposal also creates a new city position that would field and investigate any complaints against police officers.

Liam Elder-Connors

3. State alleges Bennington solar developer likely destroyed rare plants in clearing without permit

A state agency says a developer of a large solar project in Bennington likely destroyed rare plants when he started work on the project without a state permit.

New York developer Thomas Melone wants to build two solar arrays in Bennington. The state Public Utility Commission has denied permits for both. But last May, Melone's forester clear cut trees and bulldozed plants on one of the properties. 

The Public Utility Commission halted work in June and is now considering whether to continue that injunction.

Don Einhorn, a lawyer for the state, argued that the commission should keep its stop work order in place.

"Yes, I think there will be irreparable harm as a result, if not already, in that there are a significant number of rare plants throughout this site, including in the area to be cleared and perhaps in the area already cleared," Einhorn said.

At the hearing, Melone told the PUC he cleared the land for a sheep and hemp farm that he plans for the property.

John Dillon

4. Pandemic amplifies need for Meals on Wheels

The number of seniors relying on Meals on Wheels has surged nationwide during the pandemic.

Program administrators say for many seniors, it's the only contact they may have with another person. But many of the people who deliver the meals are retired and at higher risk for the virus themselves. 

Penny Jones manages Meals on Wheels in Rutland County. They make and deliver 5,000 meals a day.

When the pandemic first hit, they were inundated with volunteers, but most of those people have gone back to work. She said now, they're struggling to keep up.

"We're desperate," she said. "I mean, we're really desperate for people to bag and do stuff, because our staff is working a lot of hours. You know, even if you can volunteer for an hour a week, we can use you."

A recent nationwide Meals on Wheels survey found 86% of local programs have staffing challenges.

Read or listen to the full story.

- Nina Keck

5. Chittenden Solid Waste District navigates settlement with state over charges it dumped glass

The Chittenden Solid Waste District is negotiating a potential settlement with the state over charges that it dumped glass for years instead of recycling it as claimed.

Back in 2018, the Agency of Natural Resources told the district it violated state environmental laws by illegally dumping glass collected from all over northern Vermont. The state's evidence included photos of huge piles of crushed glass stored at several sites in Williston.

The enforcement case was referred back to the attorney general's office. And now the district has authorized its lawyers to reach a settlement. The district's board met earlier this month, and the minutes say they have an offer from the state that they're now considering.

Neither the district nor the attorney general's office would comment further.

John Dillon

More from VPR: Solid Waste District Accused Of Dumping Glass Prompts Worry About Public Trust In Recycling

6. Democrats nominate Rep. Jill Krowinski for new House Speaker

Burlington Rep. Jill Krowinski is poised to become the next speaker of the Vermont House of Representatives. 

House Democrats held a virtual caucus on Saturday, and unanimously nominated Krowinski to replace outgoing speaker Mitzi Johnson.

Krowinski said she plans to conduct a virtual road show in January, to meet with communities across the state.

"Now more than ever, Vermonters need us engaged, connected and understanding their greatest needs, if we are to build a stronger future together," Krowinski said.

Krowinski, who currently serves as majority leader, won't officially become speaker until the full House votes in January.

But Democrats hold a strong majority in the body and Krowinski's nomination on Saturday makes her the presumptive winner.

House Democrats also unanimously chose Newfane Representative Emily Long as their next majority leader.

Thetford Rep. Tim Briglin said Long will help the caucus navigate what promises to be a difficult session.

"In the next six months, there will be times of chaos, times of exhaustion, times of dissension in our caucus," he said. "And it will be those times when we will most need Emily Long."

Long replaces Krowinski, who is the outgoing majority leader.

Peter Hirschfeld

7. Burlington City Councilor Ali Dieng announces run for mayor

The Burlington mayor's race is getting more crowded. On Monday, City Councilor Ali Dieng officially declared his bid to unseat incumbent Mayor Miro Weinberger.

Dieng, an independent, is one of three people so far to challenge Weinberger: City Council President Max Tracy won the Progressive nomination last week, and South End resident Patrick White is running as an independent.

Dieng has been on the council since 2017. He said one thing that sets him apart is that he's the only person of color running. Dieng said as an African immigrant, he also understands Burlington's New American population.

"I came here, I worked hard and today I am in front of you, running for mayor," he said "And I also want to inspire, be the cheerleader, in making sure that Burlingtonians are now united."

The four candidates will face off on the Town Meeting Day ballot in March. 

Liam Elder-Connors

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