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More Than 65,000 Vermonters Have Now Gotten At Least One Dose Of COVID Vaccine

Two people, bundled up, kite board on thick ice with colorful sails, against barren trees on the shore of South Hero.
Abagael Giles
/
VPR
Snow kiters make the most of a front coming in on Feb. 8, on ice just off of the Sandbar Causeway, between South Hero and Milton.

Vermont reporters provide a roundup of top news takeaways about the coronavirus, impeachment and more for Tuesday, Feb 9.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 officials report 59 new COVID-19 cases, three new deaths

Vermont health officials reported 59 new COVID-19 infections Tuesday, the lowest single-day count of new cases since November.

The state also recorded three new deaths, bringing Vermont's pandemic death toll to 186.

53 people are hospitalized with COVID, including 13 in the ICU.

As of today, more than 65,000 Vermonters have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. More than 28,000 Vermonters have gotten both doses.

About 31% of Vermonters aged 75-and-older have so far been vaccinated.

- Matthew Smith

Vermont Department of health sets up second vaccination clinic for eligible New Americans

The Vermont Department of Health set up a pop-up clinic in Winooski on Saturday to vaccinate refugees and immigrants in the area aged 75 and older.

Fifty New Americans received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose at the clinic. It's the second clinic held for refugee populations so far.

Health officials worked with UVM's medical school, the Association of Africans Living in Vermont and other organizations to provide information about the vaccine to New American Vermonters in their native languages.

Winooski saw a coronavirus outbreak this past summer. State data shows it's seen steadily high rates of infection, including over the last two weeks.

- Matthew Smith

2. Sen. Patrick Leahy set to preside over Senate impeachment trial Tuesday

The U.S. Senate is set to begin its impeachment trial for former president Donald Trump Tuesday afternoon.

You can watch live coverage of the event from NPR, here.

As the new president pro tem of the Senate, Senator Patrick Leahy will serve as the presiding officer of the trial.

This afternoon, lawyers will argue whether or not it's constitutional for these proceedings to take place, because Trump is no longer in office.

After consulting a number of legal experts, Leahy says he thinks it is constitutional for the Senate to hear this case.

“Because he was impeached while still president, some would say that the Senate has the duty to hear the case – the impeachment has already happened,” Leahy said.

It's expected that the full Senate will vote to uphold the constitutionality of this process, setting the stage for arguments to begin on Wednesday.

Leahy says he strongly disagrees with his Republican colleagues who argue that the impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump will hurt efforts to bring a bi-partisan approach to the Senate.

Leahy says Trump must first be held accountable for his part in causing the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, before Democrats and Republicans can work together on other key issues.

“When you incite a riot and five people die, you don't say 'Oh we might cause partisanship if we say anything about it.' You just can't do that,” Leahy said.

More from VPR: Ask Bob: What’s Sen. Leahy’s Role In Trump’s 2nd Impeachment Trial?

- Bob Kinzel

3. State officials say they plan to offer COVID-19 testing at Southern Vermont ski areas

State health officials say they're not yet sure what is driving high COVID-19 case counts in Bennington County.

Deputy Health Commissioner Tracy Dolan told Vermont Edition Monday that social gatherings, cross-border travel to and from New York and ski communities could all be factors in the high volume of cases in the region. 

Despite concern that the region's winter resorts may be contributing to the spread of the virus, Dolan said she's not aware of plans to increase or change the ski regulations. Instead, the state is ramping up testing.

“We are offering testing at some of the ski resorts and are encouraging more testing,” Dolan said. “We've been encouraging people to test there. We are increasing staff, workforce testing at the ski resorts and encouraging testing for skiers, as well.”

Dolan said the state will continue to rely on community cooperation and education when it comes to following policies and regulations around skiing.

Listen to the full conversation, here.

- Emily Aiken

4. Vt. schools seek funding to keep universal free student meals available after pandemic

Shortly after Vermont schools closed for in-person learning last March, districts began providing free meals to every student in the state.

And many schools will try to keep the universal meals program in place even after the pandemic is over.

Karyl Kent is president of the School Nutrition Association of Vermont. She testified Monday at a public budget hearing hosted by the House and Senate Appropriations Committee.

“There are a great number of school districts who are not wanting to go back to the paid meals system. We want to find a way to keep the universal school meals going,” Kent said.

Kent says school districts will need to obtain waivers from the federal government in order to extend the free meals program.

She’s asking lawmakers to increase funding for the Agency of Education, so the state can help schools apply for those waivers.

- Peter Hirschfeld

5. Home health agencies seek additional public funds to sustain services

Home health agencies across Vermont say they’ll need more money from the state to in order to maintain personal care services for people who need help to live independently at home.

Jill Olson, who represents nine home health agencies, testified before lawmakers at a public budget hearing on Monday.

“It’s costing us about 27% more to provide the service than we’re receiving in payment for the service, so this is a longstanding concern about the solvency really of the program,” Olson said.

Olson is asking lawmakers to increase reimbursement rates for a long-term care  Medicaid program called Choices for Care, which covers services such as bathing, dressing and meal preparation.

Visiting nurses, therapists and personal care attendants in Vermont make about one million patient visits every year.

- Peter Hirschfeld

Correction 4 p.m.: This story previously mischaracterized the Medicaid Choices for Care program.

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