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News Roundup: Vermont Department Of Health Reports 33 New COVID-19 Cases

A sign reading Get Fresh Air - Stay Six Feet Apart sits in the grass along a dirt path that descends into woods behind a subdivision.
Elodie Reed
/
VPR
At Centennial Woods in Burlington, a sign reminds people to practice social distancing while enjoying the trails.

Vermont reporters provide a roundup of top news takeaways about the coronavirus and more for Monday, May 10.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 33 new COVID-19 cases

Vermont saw 33 new COVID-19 infections reported statewide Monday.

Virus-related hospitalizations dipped to 11, with two people in intensive care.

More than 67% of Vermonters have now gotten one dose of a vaccine. In total, 48% are fully vaccinated.

The youngest age bracket – those between the ages of 16 and 29 – continue to have the lowest vaccination rate in the state, at under 40%.

- Matthew Smith

Those who work in Vermont are now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine

Anyone who works in Vermont – even if they live out of state – is now eligible to get a COVID-19 shot in Vermont.

The new eligibility is an expansion of previous eligibility that allowed out-of-state college students and part-time Vermonters to get the vaccine.

Those newly eligible can register on the state’s website and set an appointment, or attend a walk-in vaccination clinic.

- Brittany Patterson

Vermont colleges announce guidance for students, staff on vaccination

Some Vermont colleges and universities are issuing guidance around COVID-19 vaccinations for workers and students come the fall.

Seven Days reports Champlain College announced last week it will require all students to be fully vaccinated before the start of coming fall term, as soon as federal regulators approve the inoculations for general use. They're currently only authorized for emergency use.

Colchester's St. Michael's College will also require students to get vaccinated.

Northfield's Norwich University says it expects all students, staff and faculty at the private military academy to be vaccinated by August 1.

Middlebury College and the University of Vermont have yet to announce any fall vaccine requirements.

- Matthew Smith

State to work with employers to set up jobsite vaccination clinics

The state of Vermont is working with employers to set up COVID-19 vaccination clinics.

Gov. Phil Scott says his administration is working with several businesses around the state.

“We’ve already started engaging with those businesses that have a number of employees, as well as some of the restaurants and so forth,” Scott said. “And whether we can group them together and, as you said, get them at a point when they’re there.”

Scott declined to name which companies the administration was working with since the clinics hadn’t been finalized.  

- Liam Elder-Connors

2. Gov. Scott says he'd be comfortable if Canadian border reopened, with COVID-19 restrictions

Gov. Phil Scott says he’d be comfortable if the Canadian border reopened, as long as COVID-19 restrictions were in place for those traveling.

The US-Canada border has been closed for more than a year due to the pandemic.

Scott says he thinks border travel is possible as long as Vermont’s travel guidance is followed.

“Having those who are vaccinated coming across without any other restrictions, but if they’re not vaccinated, they’d have to adhere to the guidelines we have in place,” Scott said, “which means they’d have to have a test within three days of arrival.”

Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called on the Biden Administration to make a concrete plans to reopen the border, according to North Country Public Radio.

But reopening the border could still be a way off. The rollout of the vaccine has also been slower in Canada and COVID-19 cases are still surging in Quebec.

- Liam Elder-Connors

Quebec continues to see high case counts, but transmission is declining

COVID-19 transmission in Quebec is falling, but the province is still seeing between 800 and 900 new cases each day.

The Montreal Gazette reports in the last 24 hours, Quebec saw the 960 new cases of COVID-19 and six new deaths.

The province has seen nearly 11,000 virus-related deaths since the pandemic began, by far the most of any province.

Just over 36% of Quebec's population has gotten at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. By the end of the week, all adults 18 and older will be eligible to book appointments.

Nationally, about a third of Canadians have received one vaccine dose, but less than 3% of the country is fully vaccinated.

- The Associated Press

3. New York-based solar developer racks up lawsuits in pursuit of approval for Bennington projects

A New York-based solar developer has racked up a lengthy history of litigation in Vermont as he's tried to get two, large-scale projects approved in Bennington.

Developer Thomas Melone is a lawyer who represents his own companies. He sued members of the state Public Utility Commission and Gov. Phil Scott, alleging that politicians and regulators conspired with local opponents to reject the project.

Former PUC chair Jim Volz says there was no conspiracy.

“He was trying to take as full advantage of our generous standard offer rates by essentially taking a large project and cutting it into a couple of pieces, so that it would qualify under the megawatt limit. And we turned him down on that basis and he was frustrated by that,” Volz said.

A federal court recently dismissed the lawsuit.

Read or listen to the full story.

- John Dillon

4. Governor calls on lawmakers to pass bill exempting businesses from paying taxes on their PPP loans

Gov. Phil Scott says he wants lawmakers to pass a bill that exempts companies that received federal Payroll Protection loans from paying taxes on these funds.

When the House considered a miscellaneous tax bill earlier this session, it included a provision that imposed the state income tax on this money.

Scott is calling on the Senate in the coming weeks to reverse the actions taken by the House.

“I don't want to miss that and I hope that they could easily do it in one of the bills or the budget bill and I will bring that back to the table if they aren't considering it on their own,” Scott said.

Scott says it's critical that lawmakers address this issue before they adjourn later this month.

- Bob Kinzel

5. South Burlington resident raises thousands of dollars in COVID-19 aid for community in India

A South Burlington man has helped raise thousands of dollars to send medical supplies to India, as that country continues to suffer high infection and death rates from COVID-19.

Last week, Vijay Desai received a call from a high school friend who is now a doctor in their hometown of Vadodara.

“He was not sounding happy because of lack of equipment and resources ... He was literally begging for some help,” Desai said.

Desai, who has lost three close relatives to India’s recent wave of COVID-19, said he understands the urgency and pain of the situation.

He helped coordinate an effort that, as of Monday afternoon, has raised nearly $20,000 and sent 15 oxygen concentrators to a hospital in Vadodara.

"This is not time to see from [a] distance, doing nothing ... This is not India's problem. This is the global health problem. And we definitely need to help each other,” Desai said.

Desai is continuing to gather donations through GoFundMe.

- Elodie Reed

More from VPR: 'Very Anxious': Vermonters With Family In India Watch That Country's COVID Wave

6. State prison in Newport is back in lockdown due to COVID-19

The state prison in Newport is on full lockdown after a staffer tested positive for COVID-19 last week.

The re-imposed restrictions come just few weeks after a large outbreak ended.

Northern State Correctional Facility was in full lockdown for about five weeks earlier this year. One person held at the facility told VPR in a recent email his “stress level just went sky high” over the re-imposed restrictions.

Department of Corrections Chief of Facilities Al Cormier says mental health services are available.

“They're meeting with the population … offering techniques to help people deal with that stress and manage that. But it's certainly not an easy task by any means,” Cormier said.

Cormier says no incarcerated people have tested positive, but three are in quarantine after being identified as close contacts of the infected staffer. Everyone at the Newport facility will be tested on Thursday.

DOC says just over 60% of the population at the prison have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine.

- Liam Elder-Connors

7. Scott administration to poll state employees about preference for working from home, or from the office

The Scott Administration is conducting a comprehensive survey of state employees to determine how many workers will return to their offices when the threat of the pandemic is over.

At the peak of the pandemic, a majority of state employees were working remotely.

Gov. Phil Scott says the state wants to study how this experience has worked out and if any changes are needed.

“We're trying to be as flexible as possible, trying to get people accustomed to this new transition [of] going back to normal,” Scott said. “We're working through all of those scenarios and stay tuned because we're not forcing anybody back, but there are going to be opportunities for them to come back in the coming months."

Scott says it's also possible that some employees will prefer to have a hybrid model of working at home several days a week.

- Bob Kinzel

8. Former Gov. Madeleine Kunin has a new poetry collection

Former Gov. Madeleine Kunin is out with a new collection of poetry. Kunin has written four books, but this is the first time she's published poems.

She says poetry has become more important to her as she's aged.

"I've always loved poetry. And I've written now and then, like for somebody's birthday, or some special event. But as I got older, poetry resonated with me and I began to sort of talk about my inner life and my private life through poems,” Kunin said.

Kunin's poems includes reflections on quiet moments of daily life, but also themes of aging, caregiving, grief and death, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read or listen to the full conversation.

- Henry Epp

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