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News Roundup: 200+ Gather In Burlington To Honor Daunte Wright, Other Black People Killed By Police

People wearing black sit on the steps of City Hall in Burlington and look out at a crowd of vigil attendees, masked, sitting on the park grass holding candles and flashlights at dusk.
Abagael Giles
/
VPR
More than 200 people gathered for a vigil in City Hall Park in Burlington to honor Daunte Wright Tuesday night. Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, was shot and killed by a police officer in Minneapolis on Sun. during a traffic stop.

Vermont reporters provide a roundup of top news takeaways about the coronavirus and more for Wednesday, April 14.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. Vt. Department of Health reports 100 new COVID-19 cases

Four more people have died from COVID-19 Wednesday, as Vermont counts 100 new cases statewide.

The four new virus-linked deaths bring the toll of the pandemic in Vermont to 237.

About a third of today's cases were in Chittenden County.

Currently, 29 people are hospitalized in Vermont, with four people in the ICU.

As of today, just over 49% of Vermonters 16 or older have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 inoculation.

- Matthew Smith

Vermont continues to see racial disparities in vaccination rates

BIPOC Vermonters have been signing up to get the COVID-19 vaccine under the state’s recent guidelines.

Human Service Secretary Mike Smith said more than 6,000 people have signed up to get their shots after the state opened the clinics to anyone living in a BIPOC household.

“We have made progress to close the gap in the last two weeks,” Smith said. “If you have not done so already, I encourage BIPOC Vermonters and household members to make an appointment on the state website.”

Last week the Scott Administration said about 20% of the BIPOC population had received at least one dose, compared with about 33% for non-Hispanic white residents.

- Howard Weiss-Tisman

More from VPR: Frequently Asked Questions (And Answers) About The COVID-19 Vaccine In Vermont

2. More than 200 gather in Burlington for vigil honoring Daunte Wright

More than 250 people gathered in downtown Burlington Tuesday evening, to honor the life of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man who died after being shot by a police officer in Minnesota on Sunday.

The scene at City Hall Park was somber Tuesday evening, with more 250 people gathered – wearing masks – to honor Wright’s life. Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, was shot and killed by a police officer Sunday in Minneapolis, NPR reports.

In Burlington, people sat on the grass. They held candles, flashlights and phones to light the night. They spoke in small groups about Wright’s memory.

Organized by Battery Park Movement – the racial justice group which led a multi-week protest calling for the firing of three Burlington police officers this summer – the vigil honored the lives of other Black Americans killed by police too.

- Abagael Giles

More from NPR: Officer Who Shot Daunte Wright Arrested, To Be Charged With 2nd-Degree Manslaughter 

3. Vt. leads the country in the number of COVID-19 tests administered per capita

Vermont continues to lead the country in the number of COVID tests administered on a per capita basis and state officials say it’s helping to slow the spread of the virus.

Mike Pieciak is the Commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulation.

He says 45,000 tests were given in just the last 30 days.

"Indicating that here in Vermont and across the Northeast, we are identifying many of the cases that are in our communities. Testing continues to be critical as we work to control the virus until everyone has had the opportunity to be vaccinated,” Pieciak said.

The Scott Administration says the state has administered almost one and a half-million tests since the beginning of the pandemic.

- Bob Kinzel

4. Health commissioner urges young Vermonters to follow COVID-19 restrictions as they wait for vaccines

Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine is strongly urging young people in Vermont to follow COVID-19 safety protocols for several more months.

Levine says the percentage of new cases involving people under 30 is growing significantly. This is happening as the rate drops for older Vermonters, who are able to get fully vaccinated.

Levine says a photo of a large public event at Burlington's North Beach over the weekend alarmed him because so many people weren't wearing masks and standing very close to one another.

“But I was really disappointed to see such a blatant disregard for the rules,” Levine said. “This kind of behavior is just not OK right now; not by young people, not by middle-aged or older adults, not by anyone.

Starting next Monday, all Vermonters 16 and over will be eligible to register for a vaccine.

- Bob Kinzel

5. State officials say Vt.'s approach to managing the pandemic is working

State officials say new COVID-19 statistics strongly indicate their strategy to confront the virus has been successful.

Mike Pieciak is the Commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulation.

He says the number of Vermonters over 60 who have now received at least one dose of the vaccine has increased dramatically. As a result, the number of people in this age range who are getting infected has dropped.

“The vaccine is continuing to make an impact on those age groups with greater vaccine coverage, with cases continuing to be flat or decreasing in the 60 and over population,” Pieciak said Tuesday. “And again, it just shows us how clear it is that the path out of the pandemic is for all of us to get vaccinated when it's our turn."

Starting on Monday, all Vermonters 16 and older will be eligible to register for a vaccine.

- Bob Kinzel

6. Newport prison reports no cases of COVID-19 among people incarcerated there

The Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport is now free of COVID-19.

Last month, the state prison experienced the largest coronavirus outbreak in a Vermont corrections facility since the pandemic began.

More than 200 people, including staff and more than 170 incarcerated individuals, have tested positive during the outbreak.

But Human Services Secretary Mike Smith said Tuesday that the latest round of testing showed no signs of the virus.

“With those that have been medically cleared and [with] this new round of testing results, that means that this correctional facility is now clear of the virus among inmates," Smith said.

Throughout the corrections system Smith said almost 600 doses of vaccine have been given out.

But Smith said 313 inmates have refused to be vaccinated.

- Howard Weiss-Tisman

7. Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of Ralph Jean-Marie's disappearance in Barre. A protest is scheduled Saturday.

On the one-year anniversary of a Black man's disappearance from a Barre motel, authorities say they want to renew awareness of the case.

38-year-old Ralph Jean-Marie was last seen on April 13 of last year, near the Hollow Inn & Motel where he was living and did not have his glasses, prescription medications or wallet when he disappeared.

The Barre Police held a press conference Tuesday, offering little new information about the case but saying they hope keeping Jean-Marie’s name in the news will help generate new leads and get people who know more to come forward.

Some activists are demanding that police call in the FBI and plan to hold a protest in Burlington on Saturday.

The Barre Police Department continues to offer a $5,000 reward for information about his disappearance.

- Matthew Smith

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