State relying on ‘education’ for worker compliance to ‘restart’ directives

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Noting that social distancing and the wearing of face masks are “here to stay,” Vermont’s Health Commissioner, Dr. Mark Levine, said that people could expect them to be “part of the Vermont scene even as we reopen Vermont.”

Health Commissioner Mark Levine telling reporters that social distancing and masks ‘are here to stay.’

At the state’s regular Covid-19 press conference on Monday, Levine said that many of the letters and emails he receives are not about the restrictions, but about those who are flouting them.

Levine said that once again this past weekend he had visited a grocery store but, unlike past visits, found all of the employees  — and more than 80 percent of customer — wearing masks.

It’s been a little over a week since Gov. Phil Scott announced that groups of two people could work outside and in unoccupied buildings if they practiced social distancing and wore masks when around others. Last Friday, Scott increased that to five-person groups with the same restrictions.

With that in mind, The Telegraph pointed to at least half a dozen instances in southern Vermont towns where crews of workers were spotted working closely together without masks and asked how the state is monitoring compliance with the safety rules.

Scott said the administration is relying on “education and guidance” and that as more people are allowed back to work, crews will have to have someone dedicated to making sure that workers adhere to the restrictions. In the meantime, he said, the administration would give them “the benefit of the doubt.”

The first screen of the state’s non-compliance reporting tool

“This is evolving, it’s not perfect, not a flip of a switch,” said Scott noting that guidance and social pressure would be supplemented by training. Scott’s “Phased Restart” guidance says that all employees must complete training and employers must document it by May 4, according to the Agency of Commerce and Community Development website.

Asked if the state was monitoring compliance with the health and safety rules, Scott said it is not. ACCD Secretary Lindsay Kurrle noted that if people see violations of the guidance, they can go to her agency’s website to report it and the agency will provide further education to the workers. The reporting form requires complainants to give their full names, address, phone number and email address to the Vermont State Police.

Positives climb slowly; S. Vt. towns remain relatively Covid-free

The Health Department’s Covid Dashboard for Monday shows that Vermont has 855 cases in total with just three new cases on Sunday. There are 11 people hospitalized with Covid-19 and 22 more who are hospitalized “under investigation for the disease. Forty-seven people have died of the disease and 15,073 tests have been conducted.

The three new cases were in Windham which now has a total of 70 cases, Windsor bringing that total to 40 and Orange which now has 7 cases.

The department also released a new map, which shows the number of coronavirus infections per town. The numbers are reported within ranges, with the smallest being fewer than six cases. According to the website this is being done to comply with state and federal laws “to prevent disclosure of an individual’s protected health information.”

Locally, the map shows Rockingham with somewhere between six and ten cases and the remainder of the towns in our area as fewer than six. That could mean that Chester, Andover, Baltimore, Cavendish, Grafton, Weston, Windham and Londonderry each has no coronavirus infections or up to five.

The map is to be updated weekly.


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