By MIKE DONOGHUE
Islander Staff Writer
MONTPELIER -- Vermont Gov. Phil Scott issued a "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order this evening effective 5 p.m. tomorrow (March 25).
He also directed additional closures of non-essential businesses to minimize activities outside private homes due to the COVID-19 virus.
The Executive Order will continue until at least April 15.
In comes in the wake of two more deaths to people who tested positive for COVID-19.
There are 95 positive tests in Vermont, Grand Isle and Essex Counties remain the only counties that have no positive tests, the Vermont Health Department said.
There have been 1,535 tests conducted at the Vermont Health Department, commercial labs or others. There are 339 people still being monitored and 316 that completed the process.
Earlier the Governor had ordered the closing of restaurants for sit-down dining, gyms, health clubs, barber shops, salons and other places with close proximity for people.
COVID-19 is the name given to a deadly disease linked to the coronavirus first detected in China in late 2019 and has since spread worldwide to over 100 countries.
Chittenden County with 40 cases has the highest total as of Tuesday, while Windsor County has 15. Bennington is next with 9 cases and Addison County with 8.
The news release from Governor Scott follows:
MONTPELIER – Gov. Phil Scott today issued a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order and directed the closure of in-person operations for all non-essential businesses.
These restrictive measures are in place to minimize all unnecessary activities outside the home to slow the spread of this virus and protect the public. These actions were implemented in consultation with the Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health and his evaluation of the latest data.
“I want to be very clear about this: We need everyone to limit activities outside of the home and to practice social distancing at all times to slow the spread of this highly contagious and potentially deadly virus,” Gov. Scott said.
“We all must do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19 to minimize infections - particularly for those who are elderly or have underlying chronic health conditions - and prevent it from overwhelming our healthcare facilities. The more Vermonters who take this seriously and stay home, the faster we can return to normal.”
The Governor’s order directs Vermonters to stay at home, leaving only for essential reasons, critical to health and safety. If leaving the home, Vermonters should adhere to social distancing policies, including remaining six feet from others (except for those with whom they share a home) and thoroughly and regularly washing hands.
Effective March 25, 2020 at 5 p.m., all businesses and not-for-profit entities not expressly exempted in the order must suspend all in-person business operations. Operations that can be conducted online or by phone, or sales that can be facilitated with curbside pickup or delivery only, can continue.
The Order provides exemptions for businesses and entities providing services or functions deemed critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security. This includes – but is not limited to – health care operations; retail serving essential human needs, like grocery stores, pharmacies and hardware stores; fuel products and supply; maintenance of critical infrastructure; news media; and transportation and critical manufacturing sectors. For a full list, please review the order at https://governor.vermont.gov/content/addendum-6-executive-order-01-20.
All exempt entities must still strictly adhere to CDC and Vermont Department of Health guidance to ensure social distancing and proper hygiene and disinfecting is occurring. All exempt entities conducting retail operations should also facilitate curbside pick-up or delivery to the extent possible.
“I fully recognize the emotional, financial and economic impact of these decisions, but based on the best science we have available, these measures are necessary,” Gov. Scott said.
“I need all Vermonters to understand that the more quickly and closely we follow these stay-at-home measures, the faster and safer we can get through this and get our daily lives, and our economy, moving again. I have tremendous faith in Vermonters and our ability to follow these guidelines, to save lives and support each other throughout – even as we are physical separated.”
Gov. Scott declared a State of Emergency on March 13, and has since directed a number of mitigation strategies in order to reduce close contact among individuals, including visitor restrictions for long-term care facilities and other health facilities; the closure of bars and restaurants, schools and day care centers and close contact businesses; limiting the size of mass gatherings; postponing all non-essential medical procedures; and ordering all businesses to implement telecommuting wherever possible.
The Stay Home, Stay Safe order will be in effect until April 15, though may be extended or shortened as needed. For full details, please click here to read the full addendum.
Commercial entities, non-profits, employers and others with questions about acceptable continuation of business operations should contact the Agency of Commerce and Community Development via this online form: https://bit.ly/covid-vt-business-operations.
By MIKE DONOGHUE
Islander Staff Writer
NORTH HERO -- Grand Isle County State’s Attorney Doug DiSabito urged local residents on Saturday to be on alert for possible scams, including people offering to help secure special payments from the government.
DiSabito told The Islander that since President Donald Trump’s recent announcement about possible federal legislation to consider providing individuals with $1,000 checks to help them through the COVID-19 health scare fraudsters have been at work.
He said the swindlers have been actively contacting people to ask them to provide their Social Security Number as well as other personal identifying information.
The imposters say they need this information in order to expedite the check for that individual, DiSabito said. He said millennials are the most susceptible to this type of scam.
DiSabito said there are steps to take if you suspect your information inadvertently got shared, or that someone already has your identifiable information —like your Social Security number or bank account information.
Impacted people should visit the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft website to protect yourself from further harm and alert businesses that your identity has been compromised: www.identitytheft.gov
DiSabito urged residents of Grand Isle County in need of assistance or have questions about this fraud or other public safety issues to reach out to him. He can be reached by email at email@example.com
The Islander will continue to update readers on safety concerns and steps they can take during this ongoing pandemic.
NMC Informed of COVID-19 Positive Tests
By Jonathan Billings,
Public Information Officer,
NMC Incident Command
ST. ALBANS - Northwestern Medical Center (NMC) has been notified by the Vermont Department of Health Laboratory that two individuals who had been tested for the COVID-19 virus through NMC’s processes have had positive tests today.
“In recent weeks, NMC has been preparing for the eventuality that there would be cases of COVID-19 in our community,” said Dr. John Minadeo, NMC’s Chief Medical & Quality Officer. “Important steps have been taken to reduce possibilities of exposure within the facility and properly care for patients who may have this virus. Our preparations and processes have served us well.”
NMC has repurposed a decommissioned patient care unit into a dedicated inpatient COVID-19 Response Unit and admissions to that unit have begun. As per Vermont Department of Health guidelines, patients who test positive but who do not require hospital admission will be directed to self-quarantine at home.
Out of respect for patient privacy, no further patient information on these cases will be shared at this time.
“While NMC is well prepared for a first wave of COVID-19 positive patients, we are naturally concerned about the possibility of large volumes of patients arriving in short time frames, so we greatly appreciate community efforts to flatten the curve such as social distancing,” said Dr. Minadeo. “We encourage everyone to take the simple steps of washing their hands, coughing into their elbows, and staying home if you are sick.”
For more information on COVID-19, please call 2-1-1 or visit the Vermont Department of Health website at https://www.healthvermont.gov/response/infectious-disease/2019-novel-coronavirus. The Vermont Department of Health guidelines state, “If you are sick or concerned about your health, contact your health care provider by phone. Not everybody needs to be tested. Do not call the Health Department. Do not go to the hospital, except in a life-threatening situation.”
UVM Health Network has released a video featuring Dr. Tim Lahey urging people to stay home while the COVID-19 pandemic continues. You can watch it by clicking the picture below.
By Ken Little, South Hero Fire District #4
Below is a web link from the State of Vermont regarding the safety of water and wastewater systems in this current pandemic.
Please know that South Hero Fire District # 4 continues to use multiple filtration procedures as well as disinfecting the water you drink with sodium hypochlorite 15% (chlorine bleach). These procedures were defined by the State of Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) and the resultant water quality is routinely monitored by both our operations and the State ANR.
The State of Vermont indicates COVID-19 has not been detected in drinking water (see the link) and that filtration and disinfectant procedures should remove or inactivate the virus.
Finally, we have back up operations staff as well as emergency contacts to assist us in running the plant if the necessity arises.
If you have any questions don't hesitate to contact me at my home phone number; 802-372-8700. We may also be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or leaving a message on the Water Plant landline; 802-372-3088.
By MIKE DONOGHUE
Islander Staff Writer
SOUTH HERO – The Champlain Islands Health Center plans to make a major adjustment in the way it delivers wellbeing services in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that has reached Vermont and into nearby Clinton County N.Y.
The facility off U.S. 2 in South Hero village will lock its doors this week, but will continue to offer informational services by phone to patients in the Grand Isle County region, Health Center officials said today.
A nurse and an administrator will remain on duty in South Hero, but people are being urged to call the office ahead and not just come in unannounced, according to Kate Reed, the interim chief executive officer health center.
The Health Center staff is trying to determine the best way to proceed in the new environment.
“We are in the planning of consolidating our team,” Reed said. The health center staff will be working with their colleagues from other offices in Northwestern Vermont, she said.
Reed said the top priority is to protect the patients and the entire community.
She said the most vulnerable need to stay home. Meanwhile the health center is putting all the technology and phone support in place.
Reed said the exact timing of the modified access is still being resolved, but she expects it will be Friday at the latest.
“They can call. There will be an administrator. The nurse will help triage,” Reed noted.
The people that will be on duty in South Hero are part of the normal 8-member team and will know the patients.
She said 80 percent of the people that have possible medical issues can be treated at home with fluids.
The best number at the Health Center to call is (802) 372-4687.
By MIKE DONOGHUE
Islander Staff Writer
The Most Rev. Christopher Coyne, the Bishop of the statewide Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, announced this afternoon that he was suspended all Catholic Masses, sacraments and other devotions effective on Friday.
The decision comes as the world heads toward Holy Week and the Easter Celebration on Sunday April 12 and the unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic that is sweeping the world and into Vermont.
While Masses in Vermont may are suspended, Bishop Coyne said he is leaving it up to local parishes to determine if Churches would be available during the day. He said he hoped the 10-person maximum gathering would be respected.
His announcement (printed below), outlines certain offices and services in parishes and the diocese that are open or closed.
Among them are all Catholic schools are closed until Wednesday April 15 with remote and online learning available.
The Bishop also announced that baptisms, funerals and weddings may take place but said attendance will be strictly limited to immediate family members.
Bishop Coyne said the Burlington Diocese is working on providing a livestream of a daily Mass.
The Bishop said his motto, "Trust in the Lord", has carried him through many difficult times.
“Lean on the Lord and know that he will guide you through to better days,” Coyne wrote.
Bishop Coyne’s full announcement follows:
“Effective Friday, March 20, all regularly scheduled public celebrations of the Catholic Mass, sacraments and devotions are suspended until further notice.
Priests of the Diocese of Burlington will continue to celebrate Mass privately for the intentions of their community and the Church. Baptisms, funerals and weddings may take place but will be strictly limited in attendance to immediate family members.
I have taken this course of action following the advice of local public officials and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines to limit gatherings to 10 people. While this is a difficult time for the faithful, we must all do our part to ensure the health and well-being of the larger community by helping prevent the spread of COVID-19. We will continue to monitor the situation and make changes as necessary.
Plans are moving forward to “live-stream” a local celebration of the Mass daily beginning with this Sunday, March 22 at 10 AM. Please check the Diocesan website at https://www.vermontcatholic.org/covid-19/ for all TV Mass options, resources to keep Sunday Holy and the latest updates.
LISTING OF CATHOLIC CLOSINGS AND OPENINGS
Parish offices - open
Diocesan offices - open with limited staffing
Parish food pantries - open (take away only)
Parish soup kitchens - open (take away only)
Vermont Catholic Charities - open
Parish Churches - open daily (please consult local church for scheduled hours)
Catholic schools – closed until April 15 (remote and online learning)
Parish religious education schools – closed (some remote and online learning)
Perpetual Adoration Chapels - closed
I ask that you pray daily the Pope’s prayer to the Virgin Mary for protection from this pandemic (see www.vermontcatholic.org/covid-19/). Please continue to support your parish and the Diocese by giving online or via mail to ensure we remain financially stable during these difficult times.
My motto, "Trust in the Lord", has gotten me through many difficult times. Lean on the Lord and know that He will guide you through to better days.
The Town Clerk’s Office in South Hero is closed to the public from March 17 until April 6, 2020.
You can contact the town clerk by email: email@example.com
Mail: P.O. Box 175
There is also a a drop box by the door of the office located at 333 US Route 2.
Selectboard meetings will consist of essential business only and we request that you do not come to the meetings in person. If you would like to participate in "public input" or need something on the agenda, please email your topic in advance.
The office is closed for the time being. Set up phone conferences or ask questions by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
By Corinn Julow, Town Clerk/Treasurer
In response to the COVID‐19 pandemic, the North Hero Town Office will be closed to the public in an effort to mitigate the spread of this virus.
We will close Wednesday, March 18 and will remain closed until further notice. Lisa Keyworth - Assistant Clerk, and I will be available to assist you by email, phone, mail, and online. We also have a drop box.
The town office hours will remain the same: Mon., Tues., Thurs. from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Wed., Fri., Sat. from 8 a.m. to noon.
The Selectboard has waived all late fees for dog licensing until May 1.
Please contact the town office for specific details by phone 802‐372‐6926 or fax 802‐372‐3806,
Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, mail PO Box 38, North Hero, VT 05474 or drop box located at the Town Office Alcove at 6441 US Route 2.