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State employee union: Most alright with vaccine requirement

September 9, 2021 GMT

The head of the union that represents about 6,000 state of Vermont employees said Thursday most members don’t object to the new requirement that they be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Steve Howard, the executive director of the Vermont State Employees Association, says there a few members who are philosophically opposed, but most want a safe work environment.

Many members would also like to see a requirement that members of the public coming into state buildings show proof of vaccination or wear masks, he said.

“The low hanging fruit is maybe requiring it of state employees,” Howard said. “The tougher part, which requires some leadership, is to say to the public, ‘You have to do your part.’”

On Wednesday, Gov. Phil Scott announced that effective Sept. 15, most state employees must either be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing and wear masks while at work.

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The requirement will cover the majority of state employees.

Earlier this month, the state required state employees who work with vulnerable populations — such as correctional officers who work in prisons or those who work in the state psychiatric hospital — to be vaccinated.

The state does not require members of the public to be vaccinated in state buildings, although the Health Department is recommending that Vermonters wear masks indoors in public settings when in a location with a high transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Howard said the union and the Scott administration will work to iron out the details of the state vaccination requirement.

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NUMBERS

On Thursday, the Vermont Health Department reported 101 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19, bringing the statewide total since the pandemic began to nearly 29,600.

There were 30 people hospitalized, including seven in intensive care.

The state reported one new fatality, bringing the statewide total since the pandemic began to 283.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Vermont has risen over the past two weeks from 123 new cases per day on Aug. 24 to 148.14 new cases per day on Sept. 7.

The Associated Press is using data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering to measure outbreak caseloads and deaths across the United States.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.