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News Roundup: After 15 Months, Vermont's Pandemic State Of Emergency Comes To An End

A little free pantry, perched on a stand, made of wood painted white, with a gray roof and glass door, sits against a backdrop of green lawn, trees and a blue sky.
Abagael Giles
/
VPR
A little free pantry at the Congregational Church of South Hero sits well-stocked in early June.

Vermont reporters provide a roundup of top news takeaways about the coronavirus and more for Tuesday, June 15.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 Dept. of Health reports 8 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

Vermont health officials reported 8 new COVID-19 infections Tuesday.

Currently, just one person is hospitalized in Vermont because of the virus.

To date, 80.2% of Vermonters 12 or older have now gotten at least one dose of a vaccine.

With all pandemic restrictions lifted Monday, Gov. Phil Scott says he'll allow Vermont's 15-month state of emergency to expire Tuesday at midnight.

“And here's why,” Scott said at a press briefing Monday. “Because it's safe to do so. And it's safe because Vermonters had done their part to keep the virus from spreading by stepping up to get vaccinated.”

More than 23,000 people in Vermont have been infected by the virus and 256 have died.

- Matthew Smith and Liam Elder-Connors

More from VPR: Gov. Scott Lifts All Remaining COVID-19 Restrictions In Vermont

Free walk-in vaccine clinics will continue, even after state of emergency has lifted

The health department will continue hosting free walk-in clinics for COVID-19 vaccinations, even as the State of Emergency is lifted.

Human Service Secretary Mike Smith said Tuesday that, while more than 80% of the state HAS been vaccinated, officials want to continue protecting Vermonters from the coronavirus.

“We haven’t given up yet,” Smith said. “There’s lots of opportunities to get a shot and we hope you take advantage of those, for those that have not been vaccinated.”

Smith said there will be 59 popup clinics this week where people can walk in without an appointment to receive the vaccine. The state of emergency expires at midnight.

- Howard Weiss-Tisman

2. Sen. Leahy cites non-partisanship as key factor in Vermont's high vaccination rate

Sen. Patrick Leahy says Vermont has achieved the best COVID-19 vaccination rates in the country because of bi-partisan cooperation.

Gov. Phil Scott on Monday announced that Vermont is the first state in the country to have 80% of eligible residents vaccinated.

Speaking on the Senate floor, Leahy said there's a good reason why Vermont has fared so well during the pandemic.

“Now, I mention this, because right from the beginning – and I've worked closely with our governor –we've tried to show no partisanship in this,” Leahy said. “I'm a Democrat – he's a Republican. We are both first and foremost Vermonters.”

Vermont also leads the country in having the highest rate of people over 65 fully vaccinated.

- Bob Kinzel

3. Towns and cities can now apply for COVID-19 relief

Applications are now open for cities and towns to receive their COVID-19 relief funds. Municipalities are in line for a total of almost $59 million from the federal government.

The funding is based on population counts. Just about every city and town is getting something, with the larger towns taking in more than a million dollars over the next two years.

The money will be distributed in two payments, with the first expected to go out as early as this summer.

- Howard Weiss-Tisman

4. Addison County farm wins national sustainability award

An Addison County farm has received national recognition for its sustainability efforts.

Goodrich Farm in Salisbury has received an award for Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability from The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.

The 900-cow dairy farm is home to a 1.32-million-gallon anaerobic digester, which recycles organic waste and generates renewable energy.

Goodrich Farm is one of three farms in the country to receive the award.

- Anna Van Dine

5. Long time Ryegate Representative John Zampieri has died

Long time Ryegate Representative John Zampieri has died. He was 80-years-old.

Zampieri was elected to the Vermont House in 1964 when he was 23 and served 10 terms.

While he was the chairman of the House Transportation committee in 1983, the federal government wanted to open all state primary roads to double trailer trucks. Zampieri opposed the plan.

"Can you imagine a double-bottom trailer truck going up Mendon Mountain or some other mountain in the state of Vermont, in the midst of a snowstorm and got stuck? You can't back the things up. It would create all kinds of safety problems,” he testified.

After retiring from the House, he served a dozen years as State Buildings Commissioner. He has a state building named after him in Burlington.

A service to honor his life will be held in July.

- Bob Kinzel

6. Vt. Secretary of State issues new guidance for public meetings

Vermont's Secretary of State has issued new guidance around the state's open meetings law, as the state prepares to end its 15-month-long state of emergency at midnight Tuesday.

Secretary of State Jim Condos says many of the temporary measures put in place by state lawmakers last year will expire when that state of emergency ends, like allowing for remote public meetings and electronic posting of notices.

The new guidance requires physical posting of notices, and calls for a staffed physical location for the public to attend and participate in public meetings.

The new guidance still allows members of public bodies to attend meetings remotely.

Condos' office encouraged the continued use of pandemic-era tools, like remote access to meetings, to more fully engage the public in the local democratic process.

- Matthew Smith

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