Vermont Surpasses 13,000 COVID-19 Cases Since March 2020
Vermont reporters provide a roundup of top news takeaways about the coronavirus and more for Monday, Feb 8.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:
1. Vermont officials report 143 new COVID-19 cases
The Vermont Department of Health on Monday reported 143 new COVID-19 cases. To date, more than 13,000 people have tested positive for the disease in Vermont.
Health officials reported more than 300 new cases over the weekend.
The last virus-related death was reported Saturday, putting the state's death toll at 183.
Chittenden County had the largest share of today's new infections, with 42. Bennington , Rutland and Franklin counties all saw more than a dozen new cases, each.
Southwestern Vermont continues to see high case numbers. Rutland and Bennington counties have reported close to 300 cases each in the past two weeks.
Statewide, hospitalizations remain high, with 17 people in intensive care and 59 people hospitalized overall.
- Matthew Smith and Anna Van Dine
Quebec surpasses 10,000 COVID-19 deaths
Quebec passed a grim pandemic milestone over the weekend, as the province surpassed 10,000 COVID-19 deaths.
It comes less than 11 months after Quebec recorded its first coronavirus-related death in March of last year.
The province passed the mark Sunday, when 32 new deaths linked to COVID-19 put Quebec's death toll at 10,031.
Quebec has now seen about half of Canada's COVID-19 deaths, despite having less than a quarter of the country's population.
Nationwide, Canada passed 20,000 COVID deaths this weekend.
- Matthew Smith
Vermont National Guard soldiers prepare to deploy
About 350 Vermont Army National Guard soldiers left for training Sunday, ahead of a major deployment.
The hundreds of mountain battalion soldiers made their way to Texas, to complete training before deploying to operations in Europe, Africa and Central Command.
The Guard says soldiers were offered a COVID-19 vaccine ahead of deployment, as some of the countries they are being deployed to have little to no treatment for the virus available.
- Matthew Smith
2. New report finds Vermont must do more to support people of color in running for public office
A new report finds Vermont must do much more to support and encourage people of color to run for public office.
Gov. Scott put the Racial Equity Task Force together last year to review hate speech laws and look at racial disparities in healthcare.
Xusana Davis, Vermont's first executive director of racial equity, chaired the task force and says the panel was also asked to come up with ways to encourage more people of color run for office.
“If the same people, the same concentrated power has remained in a community for a lot of time, and that power is not serving everybody equitably, then that needs to shift,” Davis said.
The report comes after a Black woman from the Hartford Selectboard resigned due to harassment. Davis says more must be done to support people of color in office.
- Howard Weiss-Tisman
3. New survey shows some Vermont students have fallen off of schools' radar amid remote learning
A new survey of Vermont principals indicates that some students have all but disappeared from schools’ radars during the coronavirus pandemic.
Secretary of Education Dan French said last week, the survey of more than 50 principals has intensified concerns over truancy.
“One principal said, ‘We have a handful of students who are elective remote, learning from home five days-a-week, who rarely attend their virtual classes or advisories, and who refuse to respond to our numerous attempts to contact them,” French said.
French said the same survey showed that many students’ academic performance has declined as a result of remote learning during the pandemic.
He said the state will need to ramp up supports for students dealing with mental health issues as a result of prolonged separation from classmates and teachers.
- Peter Hirschfeld
4. Governor's plan to fund child care through expanding the lottery meets resistance in the Senate
Gov. Phil Scott's plan to expand the lottery to provide new money for child care programs is meeting resistance in the Senate.
In his Budget Address, the governor proposed adding so called "Keno" machines in bars throughout Vermont.
The expansion is projected to raise roughly $3 million in new revenue that would be dedicated to child care programs.
A number of states currently operate Keno games as part of their Lottery system.
Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint says she has some strong reservations about Scott's plan.
“I don't know if putting gambling machines in bars is a way to sustainability fund child care initiatives going forward,” Balint said.
However, Balint said she is interested in learning more about expanding the lottery, including sports betting, because she says it's an activity that's already taking place in the private sector.
- Bob Kinzel
5. State auditor to conduct independent investigation into unemployment data breach
A mailing snafu that compromised the personal information of thousands of Vermonters was the result of human error, according to Gov. Phil Scott.
Scott said last week his administration hasn’t determined why the mistake wasn’t caught before tax forms were erroneously sent to the wrong people. Scott said State Auditor Doug Hoffer will conduct an independent review.
“I gave the Auditor a call myself to ask for his assistance, which he graciously accepted,” the governor said.
The data breach affects Vermonters who received unemployment benefits last year.
It happened when the Department of Labor sent tax forms containing social security numbers and other personal information to the wrong recipients.
The Scott administration will pay for identity protection services for people affected by the breach.
- Peter Hirschfeld
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