Scott: No masks required outdoors, with caveat

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Gov. Phil Scott announced on Friday that beginning Saturday, May 1 — Green Up Day — masks are no longer required outdoors as long as physical distancing can still be maintained. The change in Vermont’s mask mandate is based on revised guidance by the Centers for Disease Control.

With Vermont reaching a vaccination rate of more than 60 percent for those eligible, Scott also announced the state is moving to Step 2 of the Vermont Forward Plan, which brings most sectors under Universal Guidance, as well as increased gathering sizes.

Sectors impacted in Step 2 of the Vermont Forward Plan include:

  • manufacturing and distribution;
  • restaurants, catering, food service, and bars;
  • religious facilities and places of worship;
  • gyms and fitness centers;
  • youth and adult sports leagues including practices games and tournaments;
  • hair salons and barber shops;
  • indoor arts, culture and entertainment; and
  • meetings of public bodies such as select boards or school boards.

Although this steps away from capacity limits and other restrictions, distancing requirements under Universal Guidance still apply. Healthcare, education, childcare and summer camps have specialized guidance.

Universal Guidance is defined as: stay home when sick, wear a mask in presence of others, maintain 6-foot spaces, frequently wash hands and think before traveling/travel safely.

Indoor gathering sizes have increased allowing one unvaccinated person per 100 sq. ft. and up to 150 people, plus any number of vaccinated persons. Outdoor gathering sizes can include up to 300 unvaccinated people and any number of vaccinated people. Physical distancing and masking both continue as safety measures for both indoor and outdoor options.

Chester cases see a jump; county numbers mixed

The town of Chester saw a jump in new Covid cases this week, going from two last week to 12. Springfield also saw a slight increase, up from 10 cases last week to 12 this week. Ludlow remained steady, adding two new cases this week, the same as last week. Cavendish reported zero cases, down from 1 last week.

Windsor County rose slightly this week, going from 42 new cases last week up to 45 cases for a total of 1,348. Windham County added 37 new cases, down from 40 new cases last week, for a total of 1,304. Rutland County continued to drop, adding 59 new cases, down from 61 last week for a total of 2,094. Bennington County numbers continued lower, adding 41 new cases, down from 68 last week, for a total of 1,940.

Statewide cases drop, three deaths reported

The Health Department reported this week that new Covid-19 cases have continued to drop, adding just 536, down from 613 cases last week for a total of 22,952 since the beginning of the pandemic.

There were three reported deaths from Covid-19 this week, up slightly from just one last week. The total number of Vermonters who have died from Covid-19 is now 246. One death from Covid-19 this week was 80 years old or older, two deaths were aged 60-69.

The overall seven-day positivity rate continued to drop, going from 1.3 percent last week to 1.0 percent this week. Hospitalizations also fell from 26 to 17, with patients in intensive care holding steady at five.

The total positive case numbers, deaths and other statistics are based on data published on the Health Department’s daily dashboard from Friday, April 23 through Friday, April 30.

In K-12 schools throughout Vermont, there are 20 new Covid cases this week, down from 56 last week, continuing the downward trend over the last few weeks, with a total of 1,260 Covid cases reported on the School Based Covid-19 Transmission document as of Wednesday, April 28.

UVM reported a total of 44 student positive cases during the week of April 19-25, up from 33 cases last week. On Tuesday, Pieciak said that throughout all Vermont campuses there were 52 cases, up slightly from 47 cases the week before.

More than 335,000 Vermonters vaccinated

According to the Health Department, more than 335,000 Vermonters — age 16 and older — have received at least one dose of vaccine. Almost 101,900 have received their first dose; over 233,600 have received both doses.

Mike Pieciak, commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulation, announced on Tuesday that Vermont was first in the nation the percentage of 65 and older fully vaccinated residents, and second in the nation at 94.6 percent for vaccinations of residents age 65 and older who have started or completed their doses.

Vermont college students coming from out-of-state began registering for vaccines on Thursday, April 29, and with the 18-29 age group lagging behind other age groups for vaccine uptake per Human Services Secretary Mike Smith, the Health Department has scheduled several on campus vaccination clinics throughout next week. Those are: UVM on May 2; Middlebury College and Bennington College on May 4; St. Michael’s College on May 6; Northern Vermont University on May 7 and Castleton University on May 8. Sign up for these clinics is through the Vermont Health Dept. website or by calling 855-722-7878.

Walgreens continues to offer vaccinations and Vermonters can register directly on its website or through the state website. Kinney Drugs and CVS also continue to offer vaccines and can be scheduled either on their respective websites or through the state website. Only larger Shaw’s stores that have pharmacies will be participating in the vaccination program, which means that neither the Ludlow nor Springfield locations is participating.

Price Chopper and Rite Aid are also offering vaccines, with both the Ludlow and Springfield Rite Aid locations participating. Appointments cannot be made directly through the stores however; scheduling must happen through the state website.

The Covid-19 testing schedule for Springfield has been updated with daily testing available from now through Saturday, May 15 with varying times each day. The CIC Health Testing in Springfield is located at 51 Pearl St., Level 1, in Springfield. Click on this link to check for specific times each day. Sign up to be notified of future testing dates in the area of your choice.

For more statewide details on Covid-19 information and resources, click here.

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