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 3/3/22.
Governor Scott, with the assistance of Dr. Patsy Kelso and Secretary Daniel French, held a press conference on Thursday, March 3. The administration discussed two major announcements, the first of which was an executive order regarding the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine. The executive order will remove Russian liquor products from shelves, terminate all contracts for Russian goods, liquidate all holdings of Russian stock, and rescind Vermont’s “sister state” relationship with Karelia, Russia, which was established in 1990.
The executive order will also ask the legislature to appropriate $643,077 for humanitarian efforts in Ukraine and declare that Vermont is willing and able to accept Ukrainian refugees. The administration also announced that, starting on March 14, mask-wearing will be optional. As Secretary French clarified, these new guidelines also apply to schools, which will now make masks optional regardless of vaccination status for students, faculty, and staff. Individual districts can choose to adhere to these guidelines or apply their own. Governor Scott closed his remarks on vaccinations by emphasizing the rapidly dropping rates of infection and hospitalization, and asserted that Vermonters “should enjoy life again.”
- Russia has invaded Ukraine
- The bravery of the Ukrainian soldiers has been remarkable, and has reminded us that our democracy should be protected
- Applauds Biden/western nations for sanctioning Russia
- Cannot sit idly by – even if military action is not on the table
- Executive Order:
- Dept. of Liquor and Lottery will remove Russian-made products and brands from shelves and stop future orders
- Sec. of Administration will review all state contracts and immediately cease purchases/terminate contracts for Russian-sourced goods produced by Russian entities
- Treasurer has begun investigating/liquidating any holdings of Russian stock
- Asks that the legislature appropriates $643,077 to support humanitarian efforts for Ukranians – can do this in budget adjustments
- Rescinds “sister statehood” with Karelia, Russia
- Putin’s Russia no longer supports goal of long term peace between the two states/rest of world
- Declares that VT is willing and able to accept Ukrainian refugees
- Moral obligation to help
Dr. Patsy Kelso:
- Will place a greater emphasis on serious outcomes
- Majority of Vermonters are protected due to vaccination
- Most useful to provide statewide guidance
- 3/14 masking updates:
- Lower risk of severe disease
- Decision to wear a mask will be up to each person based on one’s own needs
- Positive test will be 5-day isolation
- Close contacts do not need to isolate, should get tested
- Symptomatic people do not need to isolate, should get tested
- Will remain vigilant for future variants
- Vermonters should know if they are at high risk, should take precautions if so
- Starting 3/14 in schools:
- Masks will be optional regardless of vaccination status
- Masks optional on school busses
- School districts have the option to adopt their own recommendations
- VT will continue to maintain a testing program
- Testing program will be phased out over time
- Seems like there’s a sense of optimism, but we got hit by two new variants since last summer – what is the chance that we get set back again?
Gov. Scott: There will be more variants. But we have so many tools with testing and vaccines. We will have to react accordingly, but we should take advantage of the breaks while we can – we’ve seen a dramatic drop in cases and hospitalizations, so “we should enjoy life again.”
Dr. Kelso: We experience the same thing with the flu – variants always occur with the flu to make it more or less serious. Some infectious disease experts don’t think that future variants will be as severe going forward.
- What would you say to parents of children under five who haven’t been able to get their kids vaccinated?
Dr. Kelso: Covid does not cause severe illness in the vast majority of children. In discussions I’ve had with pediatric infectious disease health care providers, none of them are that concerned. They think it’s somewhat likely they get sick, but think it’s unlikely that they get very sick or end up in the hospital.
- Will this help with workforce shortages?
Gov. Scott: I wish, but it won’t. We just don’t have enough people in the state right now to address our workforce concerns. These relaxations may lead to a small short-term boost in workforce strength but nothing more. “That’s not the answer, we need to bring more people into the state.”
- A group of students walked out in Montpelier yesterday because the mask mandates are being removed due to their concerns regarding immunocompromised people. What guidance should they be following?
Gov. Scott: They should wear masks. Immunocompromised people, and people caring for immunocompromised people, should wear masks. Anyone with concerns over getting sick should wear a mask, and there should be no stigma about that.
- What have schools been saying since the federal mask mandate was lifted?
Sec. French: There has been a lot of interest in these recommendations and the positive trends are really encouraging. I think the announcement today will be well-received.
Gov. Scott: It’s worth mentioning that the financial incentives to get 80-90% of students vaccinated still exists and should be pursued by schools.
- Burlington recently decriminalized prostitution, what do you think of a state-wide bill doing the same?
Gov. Scott: That’s not what Vermont needs right now.