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Gov. Scott Tests Negative For COVID-19, Will Be Tested Again Tuesday

Phil scott at a podium
Screenshot
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ORCA Media
Gov. Phil Scott speaks at his administration's Jan. 19 press briefing. He and other officials in attendance are self-isolating after a contractor providing services at the briefing tested positive for COVID-19.

Updated 5:15 p.m. 1/21/2021

Gov. Phil Scott announced Wednesday afternoon that he has tested negative for COVID-19. Scott is in quarantine after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for the disease.

The governor, along with Health Commissioner Mark Levine and other administration officials, got tested on Wednesday and will get tested again on day seven of self-isolation, after learning that a contractor who worked at Scott's press conferences on Tuesday and last Friday tested positive for COVID-19.

The contractor has not been identified.

The governor's office made the initial announcement Scott was quarantining Tuesday evening. They confirmed shortly after that Scott, 62, is not experiencing any symptoms, and other administration officials are not either.

Health Commissioner Mark Levine confirmed Thursday that he too had received a negative test result.

"I was tested yesterday, and I'm happy to say my test was negative, which bodes well for the Friday exposure, since it was about five days after that, and I'm feeling fine, thank you," Levine said.

Human Services Secretary Mike Smith and Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling also tested negative for COVID-19. Smith and Schirling were exposed during the Jan. 15 briefing, and will take their day seven re-rest on Friday.

Contact tracers began an investigation Tuesday, and according to a statement issued by the governor's office Wednesday, they've reached all 21 people who were in attendance for one or both of the Jan. 15 and Jan. 19 media briefings. They include not only Scott, Levine, Smith and Schirling, but Financial Regulation Commissioner Michael Pieciak, Communications Director Rebecca Kelley and Barre Mayor Thom Lauzon, who was a guest speaker at the most recent press briefing.

Scott's office noted that not everyone in that group is considered a "close contact" due to the safety protocols like physical distancing and mask-wearing in place at the press briefings. However, Scott and other officials are self-isolating "under an abundance of caution," his office said, since they all speak from the podium, unmasked, for extended periods of time.

“Everyone from the Administration currently in quarantine is feeling good and remains focused on our pandemic response,” the governor said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.  “We appreciate the expressions of support and we will keep everyone updated, every step of the way.”

The governor's office said on Wednesday that Friday's scheduled press conference will proceed "at the normal time and place" at the Pavilion Building in Montpelier, though administration officials in quarantine will participate by video. They did not indicate whether the governor's budget address will still be held on Tuesday, Jan. 26.

In the meantime, Scott "will continue to fulfill all of his duties, including leading Vermont’s pandemic response, while working remotely," his office said. They noted that the governor is currently quarantining in his Montpelier office, which also includes a small apartment.

Scott has said in past press briefings he did not want to get vaccinated ahead of where he fell in the priority list. So far, the state has focused on giving COVID-19 shots to health care workers and long-term care residents, and residents 75 and older will be eligible beginning Jan. 27.

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