By Guy Page
The executive orders announced today to reduce transmission of Covid-19 in Vermont do not include any restrictions on religious services, Gov. Phil Scott said.
Reporters peppered the governor and Health Commissioner with specific questions about how the new restrictions would impact aspects of life in Vermont. Vermont Daily asked the governor: “Do the new restrictions apply to this weekend’s scheduled religious services?” He answered succinctly: “no.”
New restrictions include:
Ban on ‘multi-household’ gatherings indoors and outdoors, in homes or public spaces. As cases are reported and contact tracing is performed, people at these gatherings can expect to be contacted by, and must comply with, health department authorities.
All bars and social clubs closed to in-person service.
Restaurants remain open for in-person service until 10 pm. Takeout available.
Restaurants, museums, gyms must keep log for contact tracing.
All recreational sports on hold, except those sanctioned by VT Principals Association.
The multi-household ban includes extended families gathering for Thanksgiving. Celebrating this holiday will be a single-household event, under the new guidelines. At Tuesday’s press conference, the Health Department noted a large increase in Canadians testing positive after the Canadian Thanksgiving in October.
Here in Vermont, Halloween parties are being blamed for some of the uptick in cases. A total of 116 positive cases were reported on Nov. 11, 84 yesterday.
Hospital cyberattack not factor in new restrictions – Like the pandemic, the October 28 cyberattack that stripped the UVM Medical Center of computerized patient records and impacted email and phone service continues, despite herculean containment efforts. In a Nov. 10 statement, UVM Health Network President John Brumstead said, “this cyberattack happened in the midst of a global pandemic that shows no signs of slowing, making this situation even more troubling.”
Vermont Daily asked Commissioner Mark Levine today, “ Are these new restrictions at all prompted by your concern about hospitals’ reduced efficiency due to having to cope with the cyberattack?” His reply was an emphatic ‘no’: “The answer is absolutely not. The hospital is functioning very efficiently, as much as it can. The hospitals are delivering quality care for people. Its concern is about hospitals in general…not letting cases get so high that capacity itself is challenged….. Nothing can be further from the truth. It wasn’t even mentioned in our deliberations.”
Brumstead’s statement paints a picture that, despite IT experts’ hard work and commitment, the hospital may be paperless for a while:
“Federal authorities have directed us not to discuss the details of the attack on our IT systems in order to preserve the integrity of their investigation. What I can tell you is that this attack was very broad in its reach. That means our response and restoration must be very carefully planned to be sure we can safely and securely restore our systems. The UVM Health Network team is literally working day and night to address this situation and the Governor has called the Vermont National Guard into service to bolster our own resources…. We are making steady gains each day, and I am very proud of our teams for their response to this emergency. Even with our daily gains, we do not yet have a timeframe for full recovery and restoration.”
In calling for Vermonters to “dig deep” and sacrifice, Gov. Scott noted that he has not seen his mother in over a year. Nor has he seen his daughter in Rhode Island since the pandemic began. In a lighter moment, the governor commenting on UVMMC using fax machines in lieu of email: “Who would have thought fax machines would make a comeback?,” he mused. “And drive-ins. Don’t throw out those 8-tracks.”
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