Scott allows holiday gatherings among 2 trusted households
Gov. Phil Scott announced a slight relaxation of the restrictions on social gatherings to allow two trusted households to gather over the holidays as Vermont’s coronavirus case numbers have stabilized, although they are still higher than the administration would like to see.
“It’s been a little over a month since we took significant steps to slow the rising spread of the virus. And it’s clearly working,” Scott said at his bi-weekly virus briefing on Friday.
The state has seen several days of fewer than 100 cases, which is still high but shows vast improvement, he said.
Gathering with only one trusted household will be allowed from Dec. 23 to Jan. 2, with other stringent measures still in place, Scott said. Gathering with more than one trusted household on different days is not permitted, he said. And if one of the two households is from out of state, everyone must quarantine for seven days and get a negative test or quarantine for 14 days afterward, he said.
There is a risk of virus transmission when people gather, especially indoors without masks, he said. Following the state’s guidance, being smart and using common sense is the best way to limit the risk, he said.
“While we’re providing a narrow path to very small holiday gatherings, you really need to think about whether it fits your family or your situation, especially if you’re over 65, have preexisting conditions or work with vulnerable populations such as in health care,” Scott said.
Scott also announced that residents may participate in outdoor recreation with others outside of their households provided that they can physically distance and wear a mask.
“But you’ve got to follow the ‘arrive, play, leave’ approach, meaning mingling afterwards is not allowed,” he said. “You don’t have to look any further than the hockey outbreak in central Vermont to see how dangerous one tailgate party can be.”
Starting on Dec. 26, school-based and youth recreational sports teams may begin practices with skills, strength and conditioning drills with no contact and physically distancing and mask-wearing at all times, Scott said. Adult recreational leagues and spectators are still prohibited.
In other pandemic related developments:
VETERANS HOSPITAL VACCINATIONS
The veterans hospital in White River Junction has started vaccinations with the Moderna vaccine.
Dr. Brett Rusch, executive director of the White River Junction VA Healthcare System, said in an email to staff on Monday that “hope arrived in a box containing frigid vials of a highly effective vaccine.”
The hospital is one of 113 VA medical centers around the country to get the first limited supply of the Moderna vaccine after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized it for emergency use, officials said.
“Yes, we need to continue our vigilance in battling this virus – social distancing, hand washing, masks, avoiding gatherings. But rest assured, hope really is on the horizon,” Rusch said in the email. The goal is offer vaccines to all veterans and employees who want it as supplies in increase, he said.
Vermont reported more than 60 new cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday, bringing the statewide total to date to more than 6,600.
A total of 36 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 with nine in intensive care. The state reported one new death for a total of 112.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Vermont did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 112 new cases per day on Dec. 7 to 96.71 new cases per day on Dec. 21.
The latest average positivity rate in Vermont is 1.97%. State health departments are calculating positivity rate differently across the country, but for Vermont, the AP calculates the rate by dividing new cases by test specimens using data from The COVID Tracking Project.
The seven-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Vermont did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 2.35% on Dec. 7 to 1.97% on Dec. 21.