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 2/8/22.
Governor Scott spent much of his press conference focusing on his proposal to use $50 million in ARPA money to install 100 cell towers across the state to improve cell service. Public Service Commissioner June Tierney and Interim Secretary Jenney Samuelson also spoke in support of the proposal. Scott urged Vermonters to reach out to their legislators if they were in support of the proposal.
In Covid news: Vermont’s case rate has declined and modeling has predicted a continuing decline. This week, cases were down 79% from the omicron peak. There will be guidelines issued by February 28 about the continuation (or phasing out) of masking in schools.
Please note: There were significant issues with the press conference news feed today, so several questions/answers were inaudible.
- Governor Scott:
- Congratulates Ryan Cochran-Siegle on silver medal in Super G at Olympics.
- Don’t have much to add on the Covid front.
- Commissioner Tierney will be discussing his $50 million cell tower proposal – making significant progress with the legislature.
- Time to bring VT into 21st century with cell service as well. $50 million in ARPA for cell towers. Cell service is not a luxury – it’s an expectation. Will be difficult to fund in future – need to take advantage of this one-time opportunity. Reach out to legislators to encourage them to take advantage of this opportunity.
- Commissioner Tierney:
- $50 million for 100 cell towers.
- About equity.
- Cell service suffers from market gaps – 2018 drive test – 62% of roadways have marginal cell service, 10% lack service from any carrier at all, 70% have service from either AT&T or Verizon.
- ARPA $ would fund critical community infrastructure program. New towers would be deployed in unserved and underserved areas. New drive test will inform.
- Interim Secretary Jenney Samuelson:
- Stresses importance of cell connectivity for heath care.
- Vermont hospitals were stressed during pandemic – but did the best of any state during the pandemic.
- 58% of Vermonters age 5 and up are up to date with Covid vaccines.
- Secretary French:
- Schools have reached more stability.
- Supply for antigen tests steady.
- Schools can get two districts per staff person per week – voluntary program. More details coming soon.
- Commissioner Pieciak:
- This week, down 41% in Covid cases, down 79% from the Omicron peak.
- Testing down 30%.
- Real declines in case rates. Anticipate continued decline – down to 200/day month.
- Hospitalizations and ICU rates improved.
- 558 fatalities.
- Boosters- Recent CDC studies show effectiveness of study to keep people out of the hospital. 67% of those boosted did not result in symptomatic infection (if infected).
- Over 150K Vermonters are eligible for booster shot and have not yet gotten it.
- Commissioner Levine:
- Immunity decreases over time – most people need a three-dose series to prevent infection.
- Omicron still here and very contagious.
- Will have discussions about removing mask mandates at some point in schools.
- Medical monitoring bill?
- Scott – I’ve vetoed it before – it’s come a long way, and they’ve made a number of improvements that makes it more palatable, I don’t know all of the details but we’ll see.
- Rental Registry bill?
- Scott – Still have concerns about that. Have been having some discussions – they’ve improved it some, but not as far as I’d like it to go. But we’re in discussions now; we’ll see if they put my proposals in the bill, and if they do, maybe we’ll work with them. If not, then it may meet the same demise. We’ll see.
- French – Need to focus on reducing anxiety about Covid in schools.
- Scott – If we’re going to at some point say that they don’t have to mask, we’ll make similar recommendations for the public. Municipal mask rules may complicate. There will be additional guidance by Feb 28.