Gov. Scott opens the spigot another quarter turn

The Vermont Department of Health has released an updated map that better shows the distribution and concentrations of COVID-19 cases across the state.COVID-19 map view of southern VermontCurrent forecast of the growth of COVID-19 cases in Vermont (thick blue line) is lower than previous forecastsIt is estimated that it will take 84 days for the number of cases in Vermont to double (from April 7, the last time Vermont's cases doubled).Only Hawaii and Montana have slower rates of COVID-19 case doubling than Vermont.Vermont's rate of case doubling is significantly lower than other Northeastern states.The percentage of tests that are positive continue to drop

MONTPELIER- Gov. Phil Scott opened the economic "spigot" another turn today, with the signing of addendum 12 to his March 13 executive order declaring a state of emergency.
This week's order will bring businesses with 10 employees or less back to work, provided they follow the governor's health and safety guidelines.
"I'm pleased to say, we're able to get thousands more Vermonters back to work starting Monday (May 4)," Gov. Scott said. "In the order I signed this morning, manufacturing, construction, and distribution businesses can operate with 10 or less employees beginning May 4 if they meet certain safety requirements. And beginning May 11, these same businesses can restart full operations if they comply with additional stringent requirements."
The order also includes more health and safety protocols, Gov. Scott said. "For instance, businesses will be required to do temperature checks as part of their employee screening required in the last order. I realize thermometers are in short supply these days, however, employers must make a good faith effort to place orders and comply as early as possible."
Essential businesses that have continued to operate under Gov. Scott's "stay home, stay safe" order must also comply with the additional health and safety guidelines.
Gov. Scott said his phased-in approach to reopening the state's economy is being carried out in consultation with the Vermont Department of Health's public health experts and epidemiologists, as well as the state's emergency operations center, the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, and the administration's "Restart Vermont" task force. "The entire group is committed to putting public health first and letting the regional data guide our reopening, not an arbitrary timeline," he said. I want to make sure everyone understands we can't declare victory yet, because we have to look regionally. We can recognize that states like Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York, states right on our border or just a few hours away, are still dealing with massive outbreaks. We have to stay smart, cautious, and disciplined."
Gov. Scott said he believed the state's approach, which includes a phased restart of the economy coupled with long-term health and safety protocols, could help the state avoid the rebounding of the virus that he said could happen in states that are opening too soon and without following the advice of public health experts. The state could also avoid another shutdown if there is a "second wave" of the virus this fall. "We may eliminate what other states are going to face in three to four weeks, because we've built this solidly," he said. "I have great faith in what we're laying out, and I believe it can work in preparing ourselves if this should flare up again in the fall."
Responding to a question regarding the state's reliance on voluntary compliance rather than enforcement, Gov Scott said most companies have "done the right thing," and have been able to see the positive results. "We haven't had to enforce this, we've led them to this and they've complied," he said. "What we're doing is working. When we look regionally, I have concerns. New Hampshire, Maine, New York, Massachusetts - Massachusetts has had over 800 deaths this week already. They may hit 1,000 before the end of the week, and it's just 180 miles from here to Boston. Even New York had 2,000 deaths this week alone. If we open too quickly, we're just one ember away from this wildfire again."
Vermont Department of Financial Regulation Commissioner Michael Pieciak, who has been leading the team producing the state's forecasting and data modeling, said this week's data continues the trend for good news for the state. "We continue to perform better than our forecasts, and even better than our case growth forecast from last week," he said. "We attribute these better-than-expected outcomes to Vermonters' adherence to social distancing and hygiene guidance."
Vermont's expected rate of the doubling of cases is also improved from last week, putting Vermont in the top three states in the US for slowest rate of doubling, and significantly better than neighboring states. "Last week we were on track to have confirmed cases double every 37 days," he said. "This week that is now revised to every 84 days. Other states, like Massachusetts and Rhode Island are seeing doubling every two weeks. In other states it's every three to four weeks. This is a good reminder of the challenges our neighbors continue to face."


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