Scott admin urges employers to require worker, customer vax

Blames 5% unvaxxed for “70% of hospitalizations”

By Guy Page

Blaming the 5% of unvaccinated Vermonters for “70% of hospitalizations and close to 80% of ICU admissions,” the Scott administration sent a Dec. 16 letter to business owners asking them to take aim at unvaccinated workers and customers.

The letter urges (but does not require) stiff vaccination measures. It warns business owners that “should we see an influx of positive test results, it could impact your ability to operate.” It does not specify why. 

A spokesperson for Kurrle clarified today that the 5% unvaccinated are responsible for “70% of hospitalizations and close to 80% of ICU admissions” of Covid-related illnesses only, not all illnesses.

At least one business owner expressed skepticism.

“She is blaming the 5% unvaxxed when we have this surge. The numbers don’t add up, as the more are vax’d the higher the cases go,” the business owner, who wished to remain anonymous, told Vermont Daily Chronicle.

The letter follows a Tuesday, Dec. 14 press conference in which both Gov. Phil Scott and Human Services Secretary Mike Smith expressed impatience with the recalcitrant remnant of the unvaccinated.

Agency of Commerce and Community Development Secretary Lindsay Kurrle urges the “Vermont Business Community” in a Dec. 16 letter to:

Impose “Vaccine or Test & Mask” requirements. “We recommend implementing a policy of asking employees to provide proof of full vaccination (and booster shots when eligible).”

“The advantage to your business is that fully vaccinated employees do not need to quarantine if they are identified as a close contact of someone who is infected. For employees who choose not to be vaccinated, we recommend that you require proof of a negative COVID-19 test once per week (twice weekly if rapid test is used, taken 24 hours apart) and require them to always wear a mask indoors, except when eating and drinking.”

Impose a vaccine passport for customers, especially among hospitality businesses catering to 20-40 year olds. 

“Certain public facing businesses should consider proof of vaccination or negative test policies for customers. Keeping in mind that only about 5% of the eligible adult population remains unvaccinated, (many of them in the 20- to 40-year-old age bands), bars, restaurants, social clubs and special event/performance venues should consider asking customers and event attendees over the age 5 to provide proof of full vaccination, or a negative (rapid antigen or PCR) test within 24-hours.”

Encourage employees to get vaccinated and boosted.

Review all workplace safety protocols to mitigate the spread of all infection.

The full text of the letter appears below: 

TO: Vermont Business Community

FROM: Lindsay Kurrle, Secretary

Agency of Commerce and Community Development

DATE: December 16, 2021

RE: COVID-19 Business Guidance for the Road Ahead

Nearly two years ago, as COVID-19 made its way into our State, we asked you, the business community, to suspend all non-essential operations. You stepped up in a big way to adopt new operational protocols, as the State worked to learn more about and respond to this new virus.  No one knew how long this pandemic would go on for, or if federal relief dollars would be made available to help businesses stay afloat and paychecks delivered to employees and their families. Even with all that uncertainty before us, you stepped up.

As a former business owner, I understand what an extraordinary ask that was and how hard the last 20 months have been on everyone – socially, emotionally, and financially.  But you did it. You rose above fear and frustration and acted without knowing when you would open your doors again. Your sacrifices helped suppress COVID-19 and saved the lives of vulnerable neighbors while we worked to safely reopen the economy and get an overwhelming majority of Vermonters vaccinated.  Thank you for all you have done for our state.

With the arrival of another holiday season, we are all still working hard to continue to move forward and toward the collective goal of finally put this pandemic behind us. And we get closer every day.

Even with the tremendous progress we have made, our hospital system is strained from COVID-19 patients, plus higher demand due to care that was deferred in earlier phases of the pandemic, and persistent mental health and substance abuse crises that stretch back to well before the pandemic.  This is why I am reaching out to you today.

This is a time of year spent gathering with loved ones, friends, and co-workers to celebrate. To relieve the extraordinary pressure on our hospitals and healthcare workers, now more than ever we need to be thoughtful and caring in our daily interactions with others.  While there are unknowns, here are some things we are certain about:  

The unvaccinated are driving much of the problem with high case counts and hospitalizations.  Just 5% of Vermont adults have not yet received at least one dose of vaccine, but they make up more than 70% of hospitalizations and close to 80% of ICU admissions.

Your employees are likely to gather with family and friends over the next two weeks increasing chances for continued spread of COVID-19, including cases among the workforce and children who only just recently became eligible for vaccination. Should we see an influx of positive test results, it could impact your ability to operate.

Cases among vaccinated people may start to increase, as vaccine efficacy begins to decline around the six-month mark.  This makes boosters a very important tool to keep people protected and reduce the disruption positive cases create.

Vaccine and testing appointments are readily available statewide through a variety of sources and outlets and the supply of rapid antigen tests available to consumers is steadily increasing nationwide.

Given that the next few weeks are likely to be challenging, we have another ask of the business community. In addition to your current COVID-19 mitigation measures, we encourage you to take the following additional steps over the next several months to help keep Vermont moving forward:

Encourage your employees to get vaccinated and boosted.  Vaccines are the best tool for preventing COVID-19 hospitalizations. Encouraging the vaccinated to get their booster shot six months after their initial vaccination is also crucial.  Encourage them to do this as soon as possible.  Finding a vaccine clinic is easy and there are thousands of available timeslots across the state every day.  A few state-run clinics take walk-ins.  You can find the full list and interactive map here:

Review all workplace safety protocols. Please review all protocols for mitigating all workplace injuries and the spread of all infection, including COVID-19, with the goal of reducing hospital visits of all types.  As a community, we need to make an extra effort to reduce demand on the healthcare system.  There are tools available to you through the Department of Labor and VOSHA to help you provide a safe and healthy workplace.

Enhance COVID-19 mitigation with “Vaccine or Test & Mask” Requirements. We recommend implementing a policy of asking employees to provide proof of full vaccination (and booster shots when eligible). The advantage to your business is that fully vaccinated employees do not need to quarantine if they are identified as a close contact of someone who is infected. For employees who choose not to be vaccinated, we recommend that you require proof of a negative COVID-19 test once per week (twice weekly if rapid test is used, taken 24 hours apart) and require them to always wear a mask indoors, except when eating and drinking.  As an employer, the State of Vermont has had great success increasing vaccination and booster rates, as well as mitigating cases and the disruptions from close contact quarantines by implementing a similar policy. 

Certain public facing businesses should consider proof of vaccination or negative test policies for customers. Keeping in mind that only about 5% of the eligible adult population remains unvaccinated, (many of them in the 20- to 40-year-old age bands), bars, restaurants, social clubs and special event/performance venues should consider asking customers and event attendees over the age 5 to provide proof of full vaccination, or a negative (rapid antigen or PCR) test within 24-hours.  This policy is already in place at some businesses in Vermont and can substantially increase vaccination rates and reduce community spread of COVID-19.  It also provides customers and employees with greater peace of mind.

We want to continue to be your partner in these efforts.  We are working closely with President Biden’s administration and the National Institute of Health to enhance access to rapid testing resources.  The Agency of Education’s (AOE) “Test to Stay” program is keeping more kids in school even when identified as a close contact and the Governor has directed AOE to expand this program to children who are exposed outside of school so that fewer kids miss days and there is less disruption for households.  And we are collaborating with the Agency of Human Services to develop more pop-up vaccine booster clinics.

In addition, Governor Scott has directed the Agency of Commerce and Community Development to host a webinar to further discuss the above recommendations and give businesses an opportunity to ask officials from the Agency of Human Services, Department of Health, Department of Labor, and Agency of the Administration about implementing ways to reduce COVID-19 disruption, slow the spread, and how you can extend your reach beyond employees to help customers, clients and your communities as we move forward.

The webinar will be held on Monday, December 20th at 3pm to 4pm. For details and a link to the webinar visit the ACCD COVID-19 Recovery Resource Center.

I am sure you, like me, look forward to when COVID-19 is a distant memory. The reality is, as we advance on the path from pandemic to endemic management of this virus, we know that the holiday season and winter weeks ahead are likely to be challenging.  Please join me in redoubling efforts to slow the spread, which will allow all of us to keep our doors wide open and the hospital system from being overwhelmed. 

Thank you again for all you do for Vermont and Vermonters.  I look forward to seeing you in an upcoming webinar, meeting or event.

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27 replies »

  1. Well, that’s all so pointless and horrible I don’t know where to start. Perhaps I’ll start by selling my house and moving to a more reasonable state.

    • I’m with you on that Very Ver. I’m already discussing listing my place with a realtor. Will sell my house, close my business and move to a saner state that isn’t threatening me. My family will likely follow. VT is no place anymore for people who can actually think.

    • That’s the beauty of living in a constitutional republic with a right to travel, which includes a right to change residence. I too have thought seriously of moving. When a large number of thoughtful, critical-thinking, sane, God-fearing taxpayers pick up and move, what will be left here?

  2. Another “expert” exercising her freedom to take away our Individual, Constitutional Freedoms and Rights which she doesn’t have the authority to do. She clearly doesn’t understand Freedom.

    Remember: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their CREATOR with CERTAIN UNALIENABLE RIGHTS, that among these are LIFE, LIBERTY and the PURSUIT of HAPPINESS.”

    Our Founders gave their “Lives, Fortunes and their Sacred Honor” to establish this Independent Nation.

    Be strong! Stand Firm in Your Convictions!

  3. Also the Vermont Constitution in it’s First Article, Article 1 states:

    “That all persons are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent, and unalienable rights, amongst which are the enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety; . . .”

    There are more American First Patriots than Marxists.

    They need us way more than we need them.

    Peaceful Civil Disobedience is what’s required.

  4. On another note: Watch Out! This is from WPTZ: “Thirty-five Afghan refugees now call Vermont home, with more arriving soon – MONTPELIER, Vt. — Thirty-five refugees who were among those airlifted out of Afghanistan with U.S. forces in August are now in Vermont, state officials said Wednesday. They’re living with host families for their first American Thanksgiving and are excited to begin their new lives. Individuals and families comprise the first group of refugees. Many are still anxious about the safety of relatives left behind in Afghanistan, a country now controlled by the Taliban. The number of Afghan refugees relocating in Vermont is expected to climb to about 225 by early next year, settling primarily in Chittenden, Windham and Rutland counties, officials said.”

    Most of these people Do Not assimilate into their new Country and All of them who were running onto the planes are Not Vetted. Who Are These People, Really?

    Watch Out! Notice the counties “they” are placing them in. Why?

  5. Family members moved Wednesday to the Carolinas. Very successful Burlington businessman. Took his business and $ with him south. We can’t wait to follow.

  6. Given all of the facts, it’s possible we’d be better off working on medicines to keep viruses from killing vulnerable people. That seems like a rational approach to the problem, and yet is the one thing the Biden administration (and Gov. Scott) are completely uninterested in doing. No interest whatsoever in doing that.

    Instead, Biden announced that the lesson he is drawing from the harmless infection of a fully vaccinated person in the state of California is that this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. They’re the ones to blame for it, not the Chinese government which likely created this virus and has definitely profited from it immensely.

    No, no, no. Omicron and COVID more broadly said the president, are the direct responsibility of the 20% of the adult American population, many of whom have natural immunity, who have resisted submitting to his injections, and they must be crushed for that.

    Now, this one is hardly worth explaining how far from legitimate science this is. It’s nonsense. It’s actually demented. But more than that, it is dangerous. On the basis of no demonstrated threat to public health whatsoever, the Biden administration is once again locking down the country and persecuting its perceived political opponents, otherwise known as the unvaccinated ….

    So you have to ask yourself, when will this end?

    In Austria, authorities have stopped people on the street and are demanding to see their COVID papers.

    In Canada, unvaccinated citizens who have been banned from planes or trains in their own country, not because they’ve tested positive for COVID and are infecting people, but simply because they haven’t taken the injection that the prime minister demands they take. Whether or not they have natural immunity, that’s irrelevant. It’s about obedience. That’s Canada.

    This is where we’re heading, and we’re heading there very, very fast.

    As the Democratic Party comes closer to certain defeat a year from now in the midterms, all of this will intensify.

    That’s the whole point of it.
    It’s how they won last time.
    And so they’re doing it again.

    Omicron …. not a single person is in the hospital in South Africa because of omicron. And yet that’s the pretext upon which the CDC has just assumed surveillance powers.
    You don’t need to be a genius to connect the dots here.
    h/t to Carlson

    • Stand up.. If it cost you your job whatever.. There are things more important than your physical comforts.. Stand strong will get through it.

  7. I guess the reason they are blaming the 5% unvaccinated for the surge in hospitalizations is that 70% of the hospital admissions for Covid are unvaccinated patients (at least some from New York) and 80% of those admitted to the ICU for Covid were unvaccinated. That seems to be a fact. Now as noted, I know at least some of those were unvaccinated folks from New York. It just is what it is.

    • Yet a majority of the people who are dying from Covid are vaccinated.

      This we know for sure with exact numbers based on real data. (That is hard to fudge.)

      I call bull—- on Scott’s citations of other %’s of hospitalized.

      (I can guess they’re playing fast and loose with the definition of “vaccinated” to pad their numbers.)

      Show us all the actual data.

      • Question: is the rate of hospitalizations per 100k for total population or for the subset based on vax status? 464k vaxxed- multiple of 4.6. 25k unvaxxed – divide by 4. I don’t believe the dept. of health #’s (50+/100k unvaxxed hospitalizations-when there are currently 70 in the hospital for covid).

  8. Awesome. As an employer, demanding “vaccination” as a condition of employment is placing a huge target on one’s back. The liability is immense and Kurrie knows that Insurance carriers are specifically excluding liability coverage for anything virus. Worker’s Comp carriers will soon follow suit, if not already. Scott does not want that liability to fall on Vermont government.
    Attempting to attract customers with a “vaccine passport” is a fast-track to bankruptcy for businesses outside of Chittenden, Washington and Windham counties.
    Kurrie’s letter reads like it was written by a political hack- working for Gavin Newsom or Kathy Hochul, not from an Agency head in Vermont. As liberal as Vermont is, we are smarter than this.
    If Kurrie’s statement is the best she and the lawyers could come up with, it might be time to find better qualified people for those positions.
    This is a poorly thought out policy, from a group of seemingly intelligent people that have lost sight of reality. Did I not hear Scott on Tuesday bemoan the lack of labor in Vermont? Precisely why, is there a shortage of labor in Vermont? Taxes, bad government policies and foolish statements like this.
    To continue the fallacy of “vaccination” with this leaky mRNA gene therapy- that has data showing it’s declining efficacy is a fool’s errand.
    What’s next, Governor Scott? Holding your breath until we all comply with your demands?
    A return to the ineffective State of Emergency when the first omicron variant is discovered in Vermont? No sir.
    You, Governor and your administration need to stop listening to “experts” profiting from this man-made virus, start getting real information on treatment options and disregard the Federal governments Billions of dollars of incentives to the state for compliance with the dogma.
    Your “pandemic of the unvaccinated” spiel is inaccurate, illogical and NOT borne out by the “science and data” you worship.

  9. Hey King Scott, after you threaten us unvaxxed low life deplorables you forgot to wish us all a “Merry Christmas”!. All you have done SCOTT is to put a huge damper on this blessed holiday season and with that I truly want to thank you!

  10. From a Federal EEOC poster: Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 protects applicants and employees from discrimination based on genetic information in hiring, promotion, discharge, pay, fringe benefits, job training,classification, referral, and other aspects of employment. GINA also restricts employers’ acquisition of genetic information and strictly limits disclosure of genetic information. Genetic information includes information about genetic tests of applicants, employees, or their family members; the manifestation of diseases or disorders in family members (family medical history); and requests for or receipt of genetic services by applicants, employees, or their family members.” Appears to me they updated this to include “genetics” in 2008. If I understand this statement correctly, the State is breaking Federal law and encouraging private businesses to do so as well. Above all, it’s all unconstitutional, but the EEOC statement is interesting considering the times were are in now.

    • I’d say this is not only possible, but probable. It beggars belief that an increasingly small minority of unclean Vermonters are responsible for the spread of COVID. Taking a vaccine that does not prevent spread is like taking an antibiotic for a bacterial infection for 3 days instead of 7 – it adds evolutionary pressure that speeds the competitive development of the antigen. The more we use vaccines that do not stomp out the virus at all, but encourage it to get fitter, the more we encourage new variants – some of which could be far more deadly than any variant we’ve seen thus far.

  11. There is only one reason for all this lying that continues. It is obvious all the destructive measures, including the vaccine, have not worked. If the vaccines, masking, social distancing, school and business closures worked than this would be over, not increasing. If the politicians get their way and obtain a 100 percent vaccine rate than they will have successfully wiped out the control group, the unvaccinated. Once accomplished there will be no comparison with which to expose this disaster!!