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News Roundup: Vermont Dept. Of Health Reports 222 New COVID-19 Cases

A man wearing a t-shirt and fishing vest leans against a wooden railing, with his pole out over the placid river. There are no leaves on the trees in the backdrop and the ski is blue.
Elodie Reed
/
VPR
On a morning too nice for anything other than fishing, Highgate resident Bill Murrill enjoys the quiet at Louie's Landing in Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge on Thursday.

Vermont reporters provide a roundup of top news takeaways about the coronavirus and other news for Thursday, April 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:

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1. Health officials report 222 new COVID-19 cases Thursday

Vermont health officials reported 222 new COVID-19 infections today, a return to triple-digit daily cases after a drop to fewer than 50 yesterday.

Nearly 100 of the new cases were in Chittenden County. Orleans County had the next highest total, with 25 cases today.

There are now 30 people hospitalized with the virus, including six in intensive care.

To date, nearly 150,000 Vermonters have been fully vaccinated, while another 89,000 have gotten their first dose of a vaccine.

- Matthew Smith

Quebec Province sees youngest death so far from COVID-19

A 16-year-old died from COVID-19 in a Montreal hospital on Saturday, the youngest person in Quebec to die from the coronavirus.
The Montreal Gazette reports the teen's death comes as the province reverses course and re-institutes several province-wide safety measures, starting Thursday.

The Quebec health safety board now requires masks to be worn in all workplaces starting today. Gyms are once again closed, and plans to have students in grades 9, 10 and 11 return to classrooms full time have been scrapped.

The return of restrictions come as Quebec health officials say COVID-19 variants pose a growing threat, with more than 12,000 confirmed cases of virus variants in the province to date.

Quebec has seen between 1,100 and 1,300 new coronavirus infections each day for the last week.

- Matthew Smith

2. National, local Muslim organizations endorse vaccination during Ramadan

In the lead-up to the start of Ramadan next week, Muslim organizations are spreading word that receiving a COVID-19 shot will not impact the fasting done during the holy month.

In a joint statement, two national groups said the vaccine is halal and does not contain pork products or alcohol.

Here's Islamic Society of Vermont Imam Islam Hassan.

“The Muslim community must know that the vaccine has no impact whatsoever on one’s fasting, it does not invalidate your fast, it does not make you weaker and it is safe to take it,” Hassan said.

The coronavirus emptied mosques and kept most people home for Ramadan last year. This year, Hassan says that thanks to changing state guidance and many congregants getting vaccinated, Islamic Society of Vermont is able to hold services at a reduced capacity.

More from VPR: ‘An Emptying Of That Community’: Observing Ramadan During The Pandemic

- Elodie Reed

88% of unvaccinated Vermonters say they plan to get immunized against COVID-19

A survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau found that 88% of unvaccinated Vermonters plan to get immunized against COVID-19.

Commissioner of Financial Regulation Michael Pieciak says that’s the second-highest rate of vaccine acceptance in the country.

He says Vermont already leads the nation in the percentage of residents age 65 and older who have been vaccinated.

“We also rank fourth now in terms of total doses administered, and eighth in terms of the percent of our population that is fully vaccinated,” Pieciak said.

To date, 231,000 Vermonters have now received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Vermonters age 40 and older became eligible for vaccine appointments on Monday.

- Peter Hirschfeld

3. Gov. outlines reopening guidance for gatherings

Gov. Phil Scott plans to increase the size limit on public gatherings just in time for the spring graduation season.

Secretary of Commerce Lindsay Kurrle says that starting May 1, up to 300 people will be able to gather outdoors together.

On June 1, the size limit for outdoor gatherings will jump to 900 people.

“If we can stay on track with our vaccination milestones and continue to follow current health guidance, we hope these gathering size increases will allow for some form of high school and college graduations to take place,” Kurrle said.

All gatherings will still be subject to masking and social distancing requirements.

- Peter Hirschfeld

More from VPR: Gov. Announces Reopening Plan That Lifts All Pandemic Restrictions By July 4

4. Attorney General's office brings charges against state trooper

The Attorney General’s office is bringing assault charges against a Vermont State Trooper who allegedly hit a handcuffed man.

“Trooper Robert Zink of Arlington was cited following a six-week investigation into a use-of-force incident that occurred on Feb. 24, 2021.

State police say the man, who was suspected of drunk driving, was “actively resisting arrest,” but State Police say Zink’s strikes didn’t appear to be in response to the man’s actions.

The investigation began after another trooper raised concerns about the incident.

Zink is set to be arraigned in Bennington on Monday.

Zink is the second officer that the AG has brought charges against this week. In an unrelated case, the AG’s office cited a former St. Albans cop for simple assault. That citation stems from a 2019 incident. Body camera footage obtained by Seven Days, showed the officer, Mark Schwartz, using his Taser on a suspect shortly after arriving on scene.

- Liam Elder-Connors

5. Amtrak service to resume in Vermont July 19

Transportation officials plan to restart Amtrak train service in Vermont in mid-July, nearly 16 months after the trains shut down at the onset of the pandemic.

VTrans rail director Dan Delaubruere says the current plan is for trains to start running on July 19.

"We think it's the right time, not only for safety, but for demand. I think the demand is going to be there in July," Delaubruere said.

Delabruere says the restart date could change by a few days. VTrans also plans to restart inter-city bus service, run by companies like Greyhound, around the same time.

- Henry Epp

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