Scott extends ‘stay home’ order, hints at opening businesses

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Saying that Vermonters are saving lives by staying home, Gov. Phil Scott announced Friday that he is extending to May 15 the state of emergency including the Stay Home Stay Safe order in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I know how disappointing this to many,” said Scott, “but unfortunately, although it appears we are leveling off  (in the number of cases) – that’s good news – we don’t have the evidence at this point to show that the virus won’t spike.”

While Scott lengthened the shutdown, he also hinted that “non-essential” businesses that can operate with limited or no personal contact may be able to re-open before May 15. Using his “opening the spigot – one quarter turn at a time” metaphor, Scott said the state would take a phased-in approach to reopening with safety measures in place. And the lodging trade got a boost to its spirits as Scott announced that they could begin taking reservations again beginning June 15, with the caveat that if things aren’t better then, that could be revised.

The governor also extended vehicle inspections due in April by 60 days and said that the Department of Labor continues to work on the backlog of unemployment claims.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel,” said Scott, “but it’s a very long tunnel.”

Infections climb and another death reported

As of Saturday, the number of infections reported was 711, up from 679 on Friday, with 9,258 tests conducted.

Another death also occurred, this one in Chittenden County, bringing the total number of people who died from Covid-19 to 25.

The number of cases in Windsor County stands at 25, up only one cases since Friday although Windham now has 50 cases, up by eight since Friday.

The highest numbers remain in the northern counties, mainly Chittenden — up 15 from Friday to 351 — and Franklin — with 80, up 12 from Friday.

State presents updated, upbeat modeling

Financial Regulation Commissioner Michael Pieciak, presenting the latest Covid-19 modeling data on the growth of the virus in Vermont, noted that the situation is fluid, the underlying assumptions change and the quality of the data evolves.

Financial Regulation Commissioner Michael Pieciak presents the updated Covid-19 modeling

Pieciak said the first modeling presentation on April 2, pointed to “glimmers of hope.” Vermonters weren’t moving around as much as in the past and the growth rate of the infection is showing signs of slowing, according to Pieciak.

“Today, those glimmers of hope shine a little brighter,” said Pieciak, noting that the seven-day average growth rate fell from 15 percent to 9 percent, and the number days that it takes for the infection to double continue to get longer.

Referring to Page 5 of the presentation, Pieciak said that the trend in projections of actual cases now is better than both the worst and best cases developed in late March.

“The sacrifices Vermonters have made, and continue to make are positively impacting our Covid-19 experience,” said Pieciak noting that new projections show a milder experience than before with the peak of the infection coming in the next two to five weeks. Nevertheless, even with a better scenario, Pieciak said that between 1,000 and 5,000 Vermonters will be diagnosed with Covid-19 by the end of May with hundreds needing to be hospitalized.

Pieciak said that while the worst may still be ahead of the state, current projections predict that the hospitals will have the resources to handle them. He pointed to charts on pages eight through 11 showing the predicted trends compared with the available hospital beds, ICU beds, ventilators and personal protective equipment.

Pieciak said while this was good news, there is a small margin for error in some capabilites and he described the “Need to double down on social distancing measures.”




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