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News Roundup: Vermont Sees 44 New COVID-19 Cases, One New Death

A hand-painted sign in a window reads Keep up the great work Vermont, with a heart next to it.
Elodie Reed
/
VPR File
A sign along Route 15 in Winooski offers passersby a message of hope.

Vermont reporters provide a roundup of top news takeaways about the coronavirus and more for Thursday, May 6.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 Department of Health reports 44 new COVID-19 cases

State health officials said Vermont saw just 44 new COVID-19 infections statewide Thursday.

The state recorded one more virus-linked death, the 249th fatality of the pandemic.

Hospitalizations jumped slightly to 19 people, with 5 in intensive care.

To date, more than 65-percent of adult Vermonters are partially vaccinated against COVID-19, while more than 46-percent – about 253,000 people – are fully inoculated.

Health officials note a reporting delay in today's vaccination data means the figures are lower than the number of doses actually administered.

- Matthew Smith

COVID-19 cases at UVM remain flat

COVID-19 infections at the University of Vermont have remained flat for a third week in a row.

Student newspaper The Vermont Cynic reports 40 cases were found in the university community this week, 22 among students living off-campus and 18 among campus residents.

There were no cases among staff or faculty for a third consecutive week.

UVM held a vaccine clinic Sunday that administered 400 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine to students and other Burlington residents.

- Matthew Smith

Walk-in COVID-19 vaccine clinics are open today

In search of a COVID-19 vaccine? The Health Department is ramping up its walk-in clinics.

Thursday, anyone can get a shot, no appointment needed, at the Essex Fairgrounds, at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital and at the Mount Ascutney Hospital in Windsor.

For more information, including what vaccine is being administered, you can visit the Health Department's website at healthvermont.gov/covid19.

All Vermonters 16 and older are eligible for a shot, as well as part-time residents like college students or second homeowners.

- Brittany Patterson

2. New plan presents short- and long-term solutions on youth mental health

The pandemic has increased demand for mental health services, forcing some children to wait in hospital emergency rooms for treatment. The state has a new plan to try to address the problem, with both immediate and long-term solutions.

The pandemic forced some inpatient programs to reduce capacity due to social distancing. But as the state reopens, the Department of Mental Health expects more beds will become available.

In addition, federal COVID-19 relief money can help boost community programs that can serve children and families.

Longer term, the state hopes a new mobile response unit can treat children and families in crisis before they end up in an emergency room seeking help.

It also wants to fund training programs and recruitment efforts to get more people working in the mental health field.

Vermont also needs more foster homes, for when children come out of inpatient care.

And as kids return to summer programs, and full time school next year, the agency expects children in crisis to have more access to services.

- Howard Weiss-Tisman

3. Preliminary budget for Burlington includes investments in racial equity

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger says federal coronavirus relief funds will allow the city to resume full-operations and make investments in programs like its racial equity office.

The Queen city will receive $27 million from the stimulus package that passed in March. 

Weinberger presented a preliminary budget proposal Wednesday for the new fiscal year — which starts in July. The proposal includes paying all city workers at least $15 an hour and adding five new positions in the Racial Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Department.

“We are looking to build on the momentum of that department in the first year of its existence and address some key additional needs,” Weinberger said.

Weinberger will present his final budget proposal to the city council in June.

- Liam Elder-Connors

4. Business owners call for expansion of revenue loss replacement program

As Vermont reopens, some business owners say they need more state aid to ensure a full recovery – especially BIPOC-owned restaurants.

George Sales owns Pica-pica Filipino Cuisine, in Saint Johnsbury.

At a press conference Wednesday, he said, “Having access to government assistance does not by all means assure a steady road to recovery. In times of crisis, people find comfort in the familiar, and I can tell you right now that wings and pizza will take an early lead in recovery,” he said.

He says that means some businesses owned by people of color are currently at risk of being left behind as the economy recovers.

“Small themed restaurants such as Pica-pica will have to wait a little longer for our customers to come back,” he said. “We will have to spend more to attract, recruit and retain workers. And in my case, try to dispel fears brought on by the rise of anti-Asian sentiment and hate crimes throughout the country.”

Sales is part of a coalition calling for an extra $50 million in the state budget to replace revenue businesses lost during the pandemic.

The State Auditor says the program needs revision.

- Abagael Giles

More from VPR: Vt. Distributed $330 Million In Business Recovery Grants. Here’s How It Worked for The Ski Industry  

5. Vermont State Police arrest white Richford man on hate crime charges

Vermont state police have arrested a Richford man on charges of attempted murder in what police are calling a hate crime.

Police say 27-year-old Anthony Mason, who is white, drove his truck through the lawn of another Richford resident around 9 a.m. Wednesday morning.

The victim, who is Black, was sitting on his porch with his dog, as Mason's truck crashed into the porch, nearly hitting them.

Police say Mason was shouting racial slurs and threatening to kill the man during the incident.

Mason was later arrested at his home. He was jailed for lack of bail on charges of attempted second-degree murder, among others.

State police have added a hate crime enhancement to the charges, which could add harsher penalties if Mason is convicted.

- Matthew Smith

Correction 3:01 p.m. 5/6/2021: A prior version of this story incorrectly identified the Richford resident who was arrested on charges of attempted murder. His name has been corrected.

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