Innkeepers are a busy bunch. To save you time, VLA attends Governor Scott’s Covid-19 Press Conferences and takes notes for you. Below is the summary from 3.26.21

Vermont had it’s highest covid case count today, with 251 reported cases. Commissioner of Health Mark Levine said that half of the cases were Vermonters under the age of 30, and that the high number of cases likely had multiple contributing factors, including increased mobility due to nicer weather and the presence of more contagious virus strains in the state. Levine pointed out that case counts have increased nationally, but that in Vermont, hospitalization and deaths due to covid have decreased.

When asked about the draft pension proposal released by the House Committee on Government Operations this week, Governor Scott said that “the conversation has to begin somewhere,” and that the continuing and increasing unfunded pension liability could cause the fund to be forced into bankruptcy, which would hit Vermonters relying on it hard. Scott praised the efforts of the House, specifically the Speaker of the House, for the $150 million pension set-aside in the just passed budget bill.

Scott also said that the $150 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding that was included in the budget for broadband was insufficient to address the monumental needs of the state, and said that $300 million is needed. He will be releasing his administration’s plan for ARPA spending in the next week to 10 days.


  • Governor Phil Scott:
    • Vaccination bands opening up – and if people sign up, we’ll be able to relax restrictions strategically.
    • Joined virtual youth forum yesterday – with 24 youth sharing how they’ve been impacted by pandemic. Students urged adults to not forget about mental, social, mental well-being… importance of afterschool and summer programs. (Molly Morehouse shared some of what teens shared). Two open surveys for youth – one from Sen. Sanders, and one at VT Afterschool (to list programs available to youth this summer).
  • Secretary Dan French:
    • This week’s surveillance testing – tested 1408 school staff – identified 3 positive cases. Considering ending surveillance testing as vaccine program ramps up.
    • CDC shift in guidance to 3 ft distance for students – reviewing and will publish revamped guidance in early April
    • ESSER 3 – VT will receive $285 million – almost half a billion total. Important opportunity to work on school infrastructure.
    • Working on details of summer programming available to all students.
  • Secretary Mike Smith:
    • 12700 60+ have already made appointments for vaccines.
    • 189500 have been vaccinated (at least one dose).
    • Vermont first in nation in vaccinating 65+.
    • Over 77% of educators and school staff have been vaccinated. Opening educator clinics health care workers and 1a.
  • Commissioner Mark Levine:
    • 251 new cases today. Concerning number. 26 hospitalized. 4 in ICU.
      • Half of cases under age of 30. Largest age band 20-29. Only 4 age 65+
    • Case numbers are up across the country. People moving around more and interacting more. Circulation of more transmissible variants.
    • Follow gathering guidance for upcoming holidays.
  • Questions:
    • Seeing cases in younger people who often have public facing jobs, are more mobile and gather more. Variants playing a real role. UVM students are showing what’s reflective of what’s happening in the region around them. Not tremendous surge across other campuses in the state.
    • Pension Proposal: Scott – Something had to be done, great credit to the Speaker of the House – don’t know all of the details for the $150 million.
      • Q – Unions saying we should raise taxes on top wage earners to fund pension?
        • Scott – Easy talking point, but you’ll see that we don’t have many of those top wage earners, and to raise that much money to do anything without structural changes to the system is significant. We’ll see how they do over the next couple of months.
    • Scott – This is the initial (pension) draft that was put forward, so we’ll see what we’ll do. Need to be realistic. The unfunded liability is not fair to them – at some point it goes bankrupt. Conversation has to begin somewhere.
    • Scott having vaccination a week from Monday.
    • Hospital visits allowed if you’ve been vaccinated – Hospital visitation guidelines are being revised. Hospitals can make more strictly if possible.
    • Can’t travel without quarantine if parents are vaccinated, but kids aren’t.
    • Are we getting ahead of ourselves opening spigot with highest case number ever?
      • Scott – Goal was to reduce rate of death and impact on health care system. Have done that. Metrics that we’ve chosen to look at. Lower age group too. Continue to watch number- focus continues to be on hospitalizations and deaths. No need to change course now.
      • Levine – Should always be humbled by the virus. European counties are shutting down again. Cases are from household contact, not from gathering.
    • Opioid deaths have increased  –
      • Levine – People are isolated (no one there to use Narcan), increase in fentanyl, increase in depression…
    • Scott – Don’t believe there’s enough time to know if this is coming from opening of bars and social clubs.
      • Levine – Safeguards in place. Bars under tremendous restrictions. No reason to believe that it’s a common pathway.
      • Kurrle – Restaurants have shown that they’ve been very successful in mitigating risk and not spreading virus. Restaurants grateful for guidelines – want to protect their employees.
    • House proposing $150 million broadband bill – is this enough?
      • Scott – I don’t believe that it’s enough. We need to get together to see what we’re going to do. Have monumental needs in the state. Need to choose wisely – think that there’s a $300 million need. Also need housing for workforce. Will put forward out plan in next week to 10 days.
    • Surveillance towers on Canadian border?
      • Scott – Think that they could arrive at a solution to meet needs of border patrol and residents in that area.
    •  All veterans can get vaccine through VA – don’t have to be getting health care there.
    • Why is VT opening eligibility after NH?
      • Scott – Different strategies – basing it on slots available and supply. Our system more efficient – based on supply. For those who have opened it up, may have to do backtracking and re-scheduling if supply is scaled back.
    • Concern from schools that the state will mandate the opening of schools –
      • Scott – Not contemplated making this mandatory this school year.
    • What is standing of research of people who have been vaccinated and ability to transfer vaccine?
      • Levine – Trials and research ongoing – optimistic that it can’t survive in people’s noses.