News Roundup: Vermont Officials Report 44 New COVID Cases
Vermont reporters provide a roundup of top news takeaways about Vermont's climate action plan, the latest coronavirus numbers and more for Wednesday, July 28.
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As Vermont's pandemic state of emergency has ended and coronavirus restrictions lifted statewide, we will no longer be reporting daily case numbers at the top of this newsletter. Click here for the latest on new cases, and find the latest vaccination data online any time.
1. Health insurance regulators request a COVID insurance extension
Health insurance regulators will ask lawmakers to extend an emergency rule that shields Vermonters from out-of-pocket costs related to COVID-19.
Commissioner of Financial Regulation Michael Pieciak says the rule was first instituted in March of last year.
“If you are treated for COVID-19, whether that’s inpatient, or whether you need to be in the hospital, or whether it’s outpatient, there will be no out-of-pocket cost if you have commercial insurance,” Pieciak said.
That rule is set to expire this summer. But Pieciak’s department is asking the Legislative Committee on Administrative rules to extend the prohibition on cost sharing until at least next March.
The committee is scheduled to vote on the proposal on Thursday.
- Peter Hirschfeld
State reports 44 new cases
Health officials reported 44 new COVID-19 cases today.
Chittenden County reported 19 of those cases. Over the last 14 days, the state's most populated county has had 115 new coronavirus infections.
Five people are currently hospitalized.
The state reports 83.7% of Vermonters age 12 and older have gotten at least one dose of a COVID vaccine.
- Brittany Patterson
High vaccination rates among eligible children
School-age children in Vermont are getting vaccinated at higher rates than any other state in the country.
Gov.Phil Scott says 71% of 16- and 17-year-olds have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“But, with school just five weeks away, now is the time for children who haven’t been vaccinated to do so, in order to be fully protected by the start of the school year,” Scott said.
The Scott administration will unveil COVID health guidance for K-12 schools at a press briefing next Tuesday.
The CDC recently released new guidance recommending that all teachers, staff and students wear masks, even if they are vaccinated.
- Peter Hirschfeld
2. Vote postponed to allow people experiencing homelessness to camp in city parks
The city council in Montpelier has postponed a vote on whether to allow people experiencing homelessness to camp in city parks.
WCAX reports that last week, the council discussed a proposed policy looking at the needs of the homeless and the city, including where emergency sleeping would be located when the local shelter is full.
The proposal also addressed what park staff should do if they find someone sleeping in an unapproved location, such as on school grounds, private property or near a public path.
Vermont ended pandemic-related emergency hotel rooms for some of the homeless population on July 1.
- Associated Press
3. Vermont officials will soon unveil climate action plan
Vermont is inching closer toward releasing a plan that will outline how it intends to meet its climate goals.
The Vermont Climate Council this summer is working on recommendations for how to meet emissions reductions goals laid out in the Global Warming Solutions Act.
The group met Monday to discuss proposed strategies and existing programs as part of the new climate action plan.
Abbie Corse is co-chair of the Agriculture and Ecosystems Sub-Committee and co-owns a dairy in Whitingham. She says any solutions should prioritize "frontline" communities — those first affected first by climate change — and be accessible to all Vermonters:
“In addition to setting up the law, in addition to putting the policy there, you have to understand that in order for it to be equitably met, it has to be resourced appropriately,” Corse said.
The group will seek public input in September and is expected to finalize the plan this December.
- Abagael Giles
4. A $5 million free tuition program is seeing a huge demand
A $5 million free tuition program, covering the cost of attendance for one year for certificates and degrees in critical shortage areas, most in health care, is seeing huge demand.
VTDigger reports Vermont State Colleges Chancellor Sophie Zdatny told lawmakers and the governor in a letter earlier this month that interest "far exceeded our expectations."
The colleges have paused the program and established a waitlist, having maxed out available funding. Zdatny says it needs an extra $2.4 million to fund all eligible students on its waitlists.
- Brittany Patterson
5. RINK Inc. has taken control of the only ice rink in Caledonia County.
A non-profit group in the Lyndon area has reached its fundraising goal to take control of the only ice rink in Caledonia County.
The Caledonian-Record reports the group RINK Inc. has raised $35,000. Their goal is to raise enough money to re-open the Fenton Chester Arena and make some needed repairs. The arena has been closed since the beginning of the pandemic.
The group is also hoping to receive about $25,000 from the state as well. RINK Inc. still needs the Lyndon Select Board to approve its lease of the arena. It hopes to reopen the rink in October.
- Henry Epp
Marlon Hyde compiled and edited this post.