News Roundup: Health Commissioner Says Vaccine Will Protect People For Longer Than Expected
Vermont reporters provide a roundup of top news takeaways about the coronavirus and more for Monday, June 7.
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The latest coronavirus data:
1. State officials report four new COVID cases
The Health Department recorded four new coronavirus cases on Monday.
That’s in addition to 14 cases over the weekend. No new deaths were reported. One person is hospitalized.
- Henry Epp
State no longer reporting COVID numbers over weekend
As cases shrink and vaccinations rise, Vermont health officials are no longer reporting new COVID-19 infections over the weekend.
State health officials reported the cases from this past weekend on Monday.
Cases have been low as Vermont's vaccination rates have risen. The 14-day average of new cases is now in the single digits for several counties.
Where the virus is most active — in Chittenden, Rutland, Orleans, and Windsor counties — there have been around 20 to 30 new infections over the last two weeks.
To date, 79.2% of Vermonters 12 and older have gotten at least one dose of a vaccine. That means just under 4,200 more Vermonters need a shot to hit the state's 80% target.
- Matthew Smith
2. Health commissioner says COVID vaccines will protect people for longer than originally thought
Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine says initial studies indicate that COVID vaccines will protect people for longer than originally thought.
Levine says it's now likely that the vaccines will remain effective for at least a year.
"People who are vaccinated but were never infected will most likely need a booster eventually, and probably after a longer period of time than you might have thought previously," he said. "But this is good evidence that not only are we protected now, but our bodies can recognize to stop this virus in the long term as well."
The Scott administration says it will lift most COVID restrictions when 80% of eligible Vermonters have been vaccinated. The administration hopes to reach this threshold by this week.
- Bob Kinzel
3. Organization will open in Brattleboro to support refugee resettlement
More than 50 people were on a call this week to talk about a plan to resettle up to 75 refugee families in southern Vermont.
Alex Beck is with the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, and says his group is reaching out to housing, transportation, and education officials to prepare for potential opposition.
“There’s no community, probably in the United States, where there wouldn’t be pushback," Beck said. "And now our role is to ensure that the new people here feel safe and welcome."
Beck says a State Department-sponsored refugee organization will open an office in Brattleboro this summer to support the New Americans.
- Howard Weiss-Tisman
4. Despite proposed cuts, UVM sees increase in fall enrollment
Just months after its dean proposed cutting over two dozen programs, UVM's College of Arts and Sciences is on track to see an increase in enrollment this fall.
Dean Bill Falls says the freshman class could include up to 150 more students than expected this fall. That means higher workloads for faculty.
"We've asked faculty to take on overloads, we've called back some faculty that we previously did not reappoint, and so we're doing our best to try to manage this unexpected potential increase in students,” he said.
Meanwhile, Falls has scaled back his proposal to cut several majors, minors and grad programs. Some disciplines will continue, while others will lose their major but retain courses and faculty.
That proposal is expected to go before UVM's board in the fall.
- Henry Epp
5. Rutland piloting mobile crisis service
Advocates believe a two-year pilot program in Rutland will help children and adolescents dealing with mental health crisis avoid lengthy emergency department stays.
Sheena Daniell, Nurse Director of Emergency Services at Rutland Regional Medical Center, says it’s not uncommon for young people to wait days and sometimes weeks for beds in inpatient treatment facilities.
Under the pilot program, Rutland Mental Health will create a new mobile response team to provide in-home assessment, crisis planning and referrals within hours of contact – ideally before an ED visit is needed.
“We all know that we are more receptive to care in a setting that feels safe and that we’re familiar with," Daniell said. "And there are states that have implemented this. Connecticut has seen a 25% reduction in ED visits after starting this mobile crisis service."
State lawmakers have allocated $600,000 for the first year of the two-year program.
- Nina Keck
6. Northeast Kingdom scandal settlement
Another settlement has been reached in the sprawling litigation surrounding the Northeast Kingdom EB-5 scandal.
State regulators announced Friday that the receiver in charge of Jay Peak reached a $35 million settlement with the law firm that assisted the resort's disgraced former owner.
The firm, Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp, represented Ariel Quiros, who perpetrated a scheme to defraud foreign investors.
In a statement, the firm said the settlement "does not constitute a finding of liability or wrongdoing."
Quiros ran a ponzi-like scheme to deceive investors who sunk money into developments at Jay Peak, Burke Mountain, and other projects in the region.
A federal judge must still approve the settlement.
- Mark Davis
7. Busy day at Burlington's North Beach
Temperatures soared into the 90s today across much of Vermont.
At North Beach in Burlington, people gathered on the sandy shores of Lake Champlain. Some were laying out enjoying the sun. Others played beer pong in the water.
Life guard supervisor Molly Ryan says she's a fan of the warm weather. She's also looking forward to the safer atmosphere now that more people are vaccinated.
"I love seeing people just come to the beach, especially after the year that we've had," Ryan said. "This feels like a very fun summer, and it feels very carefree. I'm excited to be here and watch it and also have fun."
Just over 4,000 more Vermonters need to get a COVID-19 vaccine to reach the Scott administration's goal of having 80% of eligible residents vaccinated.
- Reed Nye
This roundup was compiled and edited by Marlon Hyde.
Correction 12:00 p.m. 6/8/2021: The sixth item in the roundup titled "Northeast Kingdom scandal settlement" was updated to better reflect the relationship between Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp and Quiros. A statement by the firm was also added.
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