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Vermont Reaches, Surpasses 10,000 COVID Cases

A sign reading healthy masked readers welcome in front of a bookstore
Shanta Lee Gander
/
For VPR
Brattleboro's Everyone's Books invites healthy and masked readers in its doors recently.

Vermont reporters provide a roundup of top news takeaways about the coronavirus, a study documenting racial disparities in traffic stops and more for Monday, Jan. 18.

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1. Vermont reaches 10,000 COVID case milestone

Vermont has reached a new milestone in the number of COVID-19 cases identified in the state. On Sunday, the Department of Health reported the 10,000th case of COVID-19 in Vermont. This comes just over 10 months after the first case was identified in the state.

On Monday, officials reported 123 new infections. Daily case counts were high over the weekend, with 180 new cases on Saturday, and 140 on Sunday.

Monday’s new cases were mostly in Chittenden County with 43 infections, with roughly a dozen new cases each in Bennington, Rutland, Washington and Windsor counties.

There are currently 43 people hospitalized with COVID-19, including seven in intensive care.

- Anna Van Dine and Matthew Smith

N.Y. North Country makes COVID-19 vaccinations available to eligible people

Thousands of appointments to get a COVID-19 vaccine were available in New York's North Country this weekend after the state opened sites in Potsdam and Plattsburgh.

On Saturday, the Plattsburgh airport had thousands of appointments available for people who are eligible to get vaccinated, while SUNY Potsdam had hundreds of appointments available.

North Country Public Radio reports all New Yorkers 65 and older are eligible to be vaccinated, as well as health care workers, teachers, public transit workers, grocery store workers, and public safety workers. In all, 7 million New Yorkers are now eligible for the vaccine.

- Matthew Smith

CDC endorses seven-day isolation, negative test policy

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has endorsed Vermont’s policy to allow those who were exposed to COVID-19 to leave quarantine after seven days if they test negative following a week in isolation.

The CDC evaluated the method Vermont health officials first started using in May. The CDC says their study found the strategy was effective at catching COVID-19 among asymptomatic people in quarantine, and allowed for those who were not infected to return to regular life sooner.

The CDC recommends other states consider using Vermont's policy.

- Matthew Smith

2. Study shows police much more likely to stop Black, Hispanic drivers with "lower bar of evidence" for searches

A five-year analysis of police traffic stops in Vermont reveals widespread racial disparities, according to a study released Monday.

Researchers say Black and Hispanic drivers are more likely to be ticketed, arrested and searched compared to white drivers.

The study, led by University of Vermont economics professor Stephanie Seguino, found stark disparities in arrests: the rates for Black drivers were 70% greater than white drivers. For Hispanics, the arrest rate was 90% greater.

The report also found that Black drivers were about 3.5 times more likely to be searched during a stop than white drivers. Hispanic drivers were 3.9 times more likely to be searched.

But both groups were much less likely to have contraband, which the report says means police are using a “lower bar of evidence” to search drivers of color.

- Liam Elder-Connors

3. Vt.'s U.S. senators want impeachment trial to begin ASAP

Both of Vermont's U.S. senators say they want the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump to begin as soon as possible.

The Democrats are expected to take over control of the Senate later this week and will set a timetable for the trial.

Sen. Patrick Leahy says the president encouraged acts of "domestic terrorism" during the recent riot at the Capitol.

"We cannot show them that we simply forgive an act of domestic terrorism,” Leahy said. “If we use and fairly use the Constitutional powers given to us by our founders, hold somebody accountable, I think that will be unifying to the country."

Sen. Bernie Sanders says it's critical to impeach Trump after he leaves office so that future presidents will fully realize the limits of their power.

- Bob Kinzel

If GOP continues with "white supremacy dominating," Gov. Scott may leave party

Gov. Phil Scott says members of the Republican Party have a lot of "soul searching to do" to determine the future direction of the party following the four-year tenure of President Trump.

Scott, who says he never voted for Trump, says it will be a challenge for him to stay in the party if the president's priorities continue to dominate the GOP's agenda.

"If they're going to continue with some of what I perceive as white supremacy dominating, racial inequity, and so forth, then we'll all have to make some decisions,” he said.

Scott says he hopes the moderate base of the Republican Party will reassert its priorities in the coming months.

- Bob Kinzel

Sunday uneventful at heavily-guarded Vt. Statehouse

Sunday came and went without incident at the Vermont Statehouse on Sunday. But public safety officials say the Capital City will continue to see a heightened law enforcement presence in the coming days.

Captain David Peterson is the special operations commander for the Vermont State Police.

“We’ve stated before that we’re going to go ahead and continue this posture at least through the inauguration, and at this present time, there’s no plans to change that,” he said.

Peterson says state police are unaware of any specific security threat to targets in Vermont.

But federal intelligence officials say pro-Trump extremists may be planning armed protests at state capitols across the country in the run-up to Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday.

Read the full story.

- Peter Hirschfeld

Burlington band fires bassist over alleged attendance at DC riot

Burlington's self-described "Black punk band" Rough Francis has fired bassist Dan Davine for allegedly attending the insurrection in Washington on Jan. 6.

Seven Days reports the band posted the decision on its Instagram page over the weekend.

In the post, the band writes they immediately removed Davine from the band after learning he attended what the band called "the terrorist insurrection at the Capital" and expressed views "rooted in white supremacy."

Formed in 2008, Rough Francis won national acclaim for music advocating for social and racial justice. Davine so far has only appeared on the band's 2020 album.

- Matthew Smith

4. Rep. Alice Emmons: More funded needed to prevent recidivism

Springfield, Windsor County Rep. Alice Emmons says the Legislature is looking into ways to reduce recidivism.

Emmons is the chair of the House Committee on Corrections and Institutions, and she says the committee is working with the nonprofit Council of State Governments Justice Center on strategies for prison reform.

She says beyond funding provided by the Department of Corrections, more resources are needed for services for those released from incarceration.

"The goal is really to have our partners come together and really address the issues of folks violating their conditions of release, for a variety of reasons, and then they end up back in corrections,” Emmons said.

Emmons says a multi-pronged reentry approach that provides stable housing, mental health support, employment, and transportation for all individuals leaving prison is needed in Vermont.

Listen to the full interview.

- Ruby Smith

5. Brattleboro area hit hard by snow storms

The Brattleboro area was hit with power outages and road closures from heavy snow storms over the weekend.

Green Mountain Power says more than 42,000 customers lost power statewide, including nearly 18,000 customers in Windham County.

The Brattleboro Reformer reports the Brattleboro Fire Department had 33 calls for service through Sunday morning, mostly involving trees and down power lines.

As of Monday, a handful of outages were still affecting about 240 customers, including more than 80 in East Montpelier.

- Matthew Smith

6. Until contract signed, Orleans County Sheriff's Department won't cover Barton

The Orleans County Sheriff's Department says it'll no longer patrol the town of Barton until a new contract for coverage is signed.

The Caledonian Record reports coverage lapsed for the villages of Barton and Orleans on Friday. The sheriff's department says calls for law enforcement should go to Vermont State Police.

The change comes after the Barton Select Board chair issued a letter of complaint to the sheriff's office about communications, services, and rates. The letter claims the department failed to meet the terms of last year's contract and accuses Orleans County Sheriff Jennifer Harlow of bullying the select board.

Negotiations for a new contract continue at the select board's next meeting on Thursday.

- Matthew Smith

7. Cabot Creamery seeking approval to build biogas generator

The Cabot Creamery is seeking state approval to build a biogas generator at its facility in Cabot that will generate renewable energy from a byproduct of its manufacturing process.

The creamery is asking the Public Utilities Commission for permission to install and operate a bio-digester and electric generation equipment.

The Caledonian Record reports the project would utilize water the creamery uses to sanitize its equipment and facilities. The water contains organic material from milk, cheese and other dairy products that would then be converted into biogas.

The gas would be used to both heat Cabot's facilities and to generate electricity that can be sold to Green Mountain Power.

The creamery currently disposes of the waste water by trucking it offsite and discharging it on land.

- Associated Press

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