By Guy Page
Beginning April 9, vaccinated Vermonters may travel out-of-state without testing or quarantine, Gov. Phil Scott announced at the Covid-19 press conference today. Unvaccinated Vermonters may travel, but must be tested within three days upon return. They will not be required to quarantine.
In June, travel will be unrestricted regardless of vaccination status “as long as enough Vermonters step up” for vaccination, Scott said.
Throughout April, May and June, the “Vermont Forward” plan requires that masking and social distancing continue. “After July 4th, our guidance will become exactly that – guidance, not mandates, recommendations, not requirements,” Scott said.
However, the governor didn’t promise to end the State of Emergency that gives legal force to his emergency orders. “There may be factors that we might have to keep it in place a while longer….we may need some legislation to keep some of the programs going that are tied to the State of Emergency,” Scott said. “But for all intents and purposes, it will be over” by July 4.
He urged Vermonters to “do your part for the common good, especially when it’s your turn to get vaccinated,” Scott said.
VPR reporter Peter Hirschfeld asked how the State will respond if too few Vermonters ‘step up.’ Will Vermont progress to “step three” on June 1 if vaccination rates don’t reach the goal of 70%? Scott replied it would if the rate is shy by a percentage point or so, but “if it’s substantially less, we would have to reflect on that.”
Health Commissioner Mark Levine clarified that moving to Step Three in June wouldn’t depend on vaccination rates alone. As has been the case throughout the pandemic, “there are other metrics that will need to play out,” he said. Another administration official said businesses and individuals should feel free to plan with confidence, because the 70% mark is conservative and likely to be achieved.
Vermont Daily asked about stigmatizing Vermonters who don’t choose vaccination: “Commissioner Levine has stressed throughout the pandemic that no group be stigmatized. Does that include people who decline vaccination even if their collective choice means vaccination goals are not met?”
“We have a great deal of hope that we will meet our vaccination goals,” Scott responded. “We understand that not everyone will be vaccinated…. There won’t be that a stigmatism, I believe.”
BIPOC vaccination fast-track defended – Calvin Cutler of WCAX asked Scott why yesterday he publicly defended his plan to fasttrack vaccinations of BIPOC Vermonters.
Scott said he hoped the press release would educate critics, especially those on national social media, about why he announced last week Vermont now offers to vaccinate all BIPOC Vermonters regardless of age. Most but not all non-BIPOC Vermonters are now eligible to receive the vaccine. As of today 231,000 Vermonters have been vaccinated, administration officials said today.
“Vermont’s data currently shows the Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) population is at increased risk of hospitalization from COVID-19,” Scott’s statement says. However, he does not cite specific data. The only BIPOC – white statistical comparison he offers is for vaccination: 33% for whites, 20% for BIPOC Vermonters.
Vermont Daily contacted the governor’s office and the Vermont Department of Health seeking statistical hospitalization/death data to justify moving BIPOC Vermonters to the front of the vaccination line. Information provided by the Vermont Department of Health show that BIPOC Vermonters have been hospitalized at more than twice the non-BIPOC rate during the pandemic. See graphic below:
Categories: Governor's Covid Press Conference