Health Commissioner rebukes misreading of CDC “6%” report

  • Scott to issue executive order on policing
  • Home schoolers to top 4,000, but no $$ for them
  • Opioid overdoses up 50% this year, pandemic blamed

By Guy Page

September 1, 2020 – Asked about a CDC report saying only six percent of Covid-19 fatalities nationwide died solely from the disease, Health Commissioner Mark Levine at a press conference today vehemently decried the “armchair epidemiologists and physicians” who publicly impugn without understanding Covid-19 death statistics and public health measures.

The report, “Provisional Death Counts for Coronavirus,” states “the types of health conditions and contributing causes mentioned in conjunction with deaths involving coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). For 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned. For deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19, on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death.”

Speaking generally to these critics, whom he referred to as “armchair epidemiologists and physicians, Levine told reporter Steve Merrill of NEK-TV that “You do need to understand medicine.”

“Six percent [of death certificates] will say Covid was the only thing that killed the person,” Levine continued. “They were a healthy person otherwise. The other 94% had a vairiety of other things on their death certificates” – such as kidney and heart disease and diabetes, he said. 

“Covid tipped them over. It was overwhelming and their system couldn’t handle it. They died because Covid was on the planet,” Levine said. “Because I feel so strongly, I feel we should take a few moments of silence in honor [of the victims].” 

Merrill paused for a moment. “Umm….sure….,” he said. “Thank you,” Levine retorted.

Scott to issue executive order on policing – mum on details, for now

Also at today’s press conference, Gov. Phil Scott announced he has prepared an executive order, to be released soon, regarding policing in this era of public unrest. He didn’t offer specific details, except to say that he looks forward to reviewing the Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT) recommendations on the subject. 

The August 27 VLCT “Perspectives on Police Reform” urges tighter police hiring and training practices, more local participation and involvement in hiring, more reporting and data sharing, and holding officers accountable. However it would preserve the “qualified immunity” protecting police officers from citizen lawsuits. The Vermont Legislature is considering police reform legislation, and influential advocacy groups such as the ACLU-VT and VPIRG are arguing for removing immunity. 

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Home schooling applications to top 4,000 – but no extra help expected for first-timers

Applications for homeschooling children this year will probably top 4,000 – twice the normal figure, Agency of Education Secretary Daniel French told Vermont Daily at the press conference today. 

However, Secretary French declined to offer any hope or support for financial support for homeschooling parents, including first-timers who are removing children from school due to pandemic-related health, staffing, and daily scheduling concerns. When Vermont Daily asked if his agency could offer IT, training or curriculum assistance, he said, “we wouldn’t necessarily have the authority or own ability to act without the Legislature.” And it’s unlikely the Legislature will move in that direction this year, he said. 

The Agency of Education and the Vermont Superintendents Association are urging the Legislature to allow schools with declining enrollment to be funded based on last year’s enrollment. 

Opioid overdoses up 50% in 2020 – Levine explains why

According to a VT Digger report, overdoses in the first six months of 2020 totaled 72, compared to 48 in 2019. Commissioner Levine was asked to comment. “It’s true around the country,” he said. “It’s related to the pandemic.” More people are isolated at home. Fewer people are present to witness injections and seek help. Addicts have heightened anxiety and depression. Levine noted that the federal government has released more drug abuse treatment funding, and some has come to the Vermont Dept. of Health, he said. 

Photo: Health Commissioner Mark Levine (VT Dept. of Health Facebook page)

Commentary by Tom Evslin: What should be mandatory, and what should not

“When there’s a Covid-19 vaccine, it should be mandatory for going to school, day care, or college for both adult supervision and children just as masks are (medical exceptions only). Probably should be mandatory for taking public transportation as well, at least for a while. Individual freedom is preserved. You can home school your kids if you don’t want them vaccinated; you can drive if you don’t want to take public transportation. What you can’t do is freeload on the herd immunity earned by other people getting vaccinated and expose everyone else to your possibly infectious self. The societal reward for this mandate is huge and includes the quick end to other mandates like masks and prohibitions on large gatherings.”

Obituary – George Schiavone, former lawmaker, August 10

George was a man of extensive and diverse interests, all of which he pursued ambitiously. He was an avid alpine skier, skiing up until he was 89! Hiking, cycling and distance running were other passions. George ran (impressive times) in seven marathons, including the Boston Marathon, New York City Marathon and the Marine Corps Marathon. He was methodical and thoughtful in his endeavors and life in general, keeping yearly logs and taking notes daily. George had an innate curiosity and insatiable love of learning. He tackled conversational Italian, German, Japanese and French, taking a college French class at the age of 85! In any environment, George delighted in befriending everyone and learning their stories. Another passion was tinkering with and driving his 1952 MG TD, often in local parades.

VT Watercooler Comment of the Day:

ZUCKERMAN WOULD HAVE ENFORCED MASK BAN SOONER: “Zuckerman sold his soul to Big Pharma. It’s pretty sad.”

Comment on VTWatercooler news by going to

  1. No one individual candidate can take on the party ideological machine. Voting for the one who says or promises to…

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Categories: Covid-19, Education

1 reply »

  1. I don’t remember voting for Levin or his name on the ballot, toss the would be petty tyrant MD. out.

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