Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Vermont State Response & Resources

 

Table of Contents: Overview | State of Emergency | RestartVT: Phased Re-Openings | Individual and Business Supports

(Updated July 1, 2020)

Overview 

COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. According to the World Health Organization, “The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don't feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.”

Governor Scott and public health officials have set a strategy to slow the spread in order to protect those at greatest risk, ensure capacity at healthcare facilities and minimize the risk to the public. The state is continually updating community mitigation measures and guidance in close consultation with the Vermont Department of Health and based on new information from the CDC and WHO.

For the most current information on COVID-19 in Vermont, visit healthvermont.gov/covid19.

Community Mitigation Measures

Vermont is now experiencing community spread of COVID-19, which is why Governor Scott issued a Stay Home, Stay Safe order. All Vermonters should stay home whenever possible and practice social distancing (staying about 6 feet apart) and good hygiene with frequent hand washing and cleaning – all strategies to help slow the spread of the virus and protect our vulnerable populations. For more information about how Vermonters can help slow the spread of COVID-19, visit healthvermont.gov/covid19.

State of Emergency

On March 13, Governor Phil Scott declared a state of emergency to help ensure Vermont has all the necessary resources to respond to this evolving threat. Executive Order | Press Release | Governor's Video Message| Governor's Press Conference 

The strategies continue to be updated based on guidance from federal and state public health officials. They currently include:​

  • On March 23, Governor Scott ordered telecommuting or work from home procedures for all businesses and not-for-profit entities, to the maximum extent possible (effective March 23-May 15). Addendum 5 | Press Release | Governor's Press Conference 

Restart Vermont: Phased Re-Openings

 

On April 17, Governor Phil Scott outlined an approach for the phased restart of Vermont’s economy, emphasizing the state’s modeling indicates initial steps can be taken to put some Vermonters back to work, while the Stay Home, Stay Safe order remains in effect. This process is being done in close consultation with the experts at the Vermont Department of Health, and based on the state's modeling.

The Governor also outlined five principles, developed in collaboration with the Vermont Department of Health, the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC), ACCD and others, which will guide the state’s Restart Vermont planning and decision-making process. They are:

  • Keep our eyes on the data
  • Maintain health care readiness
  • Increase testing and tracing
  • Work Smarter & Work Safer
  • Play Smarter & Play Safer

Restart efforts under these principles include:

  • On July 1, announced Vermont’s Economic Recovery Grant Program will launch on July 6, 2020.  The grant program first proposed by the Administration and amended by the legislature utilizes federal CARES Act funding to provide direct cash grants to Vermont businesses who have seen lost revenue because of COVID-19. Press Release
  • On June 26, as state data and expanded testing and tracing capacity continue to support reopening, Governor Phil Scott announced he will expand the number of states covered under Vermont’s county-by-county quarantine-free travel policy, which allows direct travel from designated counties without a 14-day quarantine requirement. Press Release 
  • On June 19, announced that, effective June 26, occupancy limits for event venues, arts, culture and entertainment venues, as well as restaurants can expand capacity for events and dining to 50% of approved occupancy size or one person per 100 square feet of customer facing space. This change will allow for indoor events of up to 75 people and outdoor organized events of up to 150.  Press Release | ACCD Guidance 
  • On June 17, announced several measures to gradually ease restrictions on Vermonters in long-term care facilities, hospitals and those over the age of 65. Press Release | Governor's Press Conference
  • On June 15, signed an executive order to update and extend the State of Emergency in Vermont to July 15. The latest order reflects all current (June 15) re-openings and eased restrictions, which have been underway since late April to account for the State’s low case counts and continued slow growth rate. Amended and Restated Executive Order 01-20 | Press Release | Governor's Press Conference 
  • On June 12, announced Phase II a $400 million economic relief and recovery package, using funds from the $1.25 billion the state received from the Federal CARES Act. Proposal | Press Conference 
  • On June 5, as state data and expanded testing and tracing capacity continue to support reopening, Governor Scott announced the resumption of limited indoor seating at restaurants and bars and a data-driven approach to allow travel to and from designated areas without a 14-day quarantine requirement. Addendum 17 | Press Release | Governor's Press Conference | ACCD Guidance 
  • On June 1, announced a restart plan for resuming driver’s license tests and a new service for Vermonters to receive their learner’s permit online as the state begins limited resumption of services paused due to COVID-19. Press Release
  • On May 29, announced the resumption of additional close contact businesses, dental procedures, businesses that require work in the home, and of limited overnight youth summer camp programming. As state modeling continues to indicate a low number of COVID-19 cases, he also increased the size of social gatherings. Press Release | Governor's Press ConferenceACCD Guidance | Health Department Guidance 
  • On May 22, announced the resumption of additional business operations, including outdoor seating at restaurants and bars, hair salons and barber shops and some additional health services. Addendum 15 | Press Release | Governor's Press Conference | ACCD Guidance | Health Department Guidance 
  • On May 20, announced a $400 million economic relief and recovery package, using funds from the $1.25 billion the state received from the Federal CARES Act. Press Release | Governor's Press Conference
  • May 20,ACCD issued guidance enabling restaurants to offer limited outdoor service starting May 22nd. The guidance allows dining to occur in accordance with mandatory health and safety practices outlined in the Work Safe guidelines.
  • On May 19, ACCD released new sector specific guidance, effective immediately. Low contact professional services, including but not limited to attorneys, accountants, realtors, non-profit workers, and municipal workers, will be able to resume in-person business operations in settings of 10 or fewer people. Pools, beaches, and swimming facilities may open in accordance with previously issued outdoor recreation and fitness guidance. Vermonters may hold yard sales and garage sales with 10 or fewer people; hosts and visitors must practice social distancing and it is recommended that they wear cloth face coverings. Those coming to Vermont from out-of-state must quarantine in Vermont before utilizing a lodging property, campground or short-term rental.
  • On May 15, signed Addendum 14, a Be Smart, Stay Safe order to extend the State of Emergency to June 15 and update previous emergency orders to reflect re-openings and eased restrictions announced in recent weeks. Addendum 14 Press Release | Governor's Press Conference
  • On May 6, nnounced that outdoor recreation and limited social interactions may resume under strict health and safety precautions, as state modeling continues to indicate a slow in the spread of COVID-19. Addendum 13 | Press Release | Governor's Press Conference 
  • On May 4, announced limited elective procedures would resume, which had previously been put on hold as Vermont’s health care system focused on preparing for, and responding to, COVID-19. Ammendment to Addendum 3 | Press Release | Governor's Press Conference 
  • On May 1, announced a third incremental, evidence-based step forward to put Vermonters back to work. Addendum 12 | Press Release | Governor's Press Conference 
  • On April 29, the state is significantly increasing and strengthening its testing and contact tracing programs in order to quickly identify, contain and suppress outbreaks of COVID-19.  Press Release | Governor's Press Conference 
  • On April 24, outlined some additional openings as part of the phased restart of Vermont’s economy. Addendum 11 | Press Release | Governor's Press Conference 
  • On April 17, outlined an approach for the phased restart of Vermont’s economy, emphasizing the state’s modeling indicates initial steps can be taken while the Stay Home/Stay Safe order remains in effect. Addendum 10 | Press Release | Governor's Press Conference 

Scott Administration Acting to Help Impacted Individuals, Families and Businesses

“I want every Vermonter to know I understand fully the incredible economic and emotional toll coronavirus is having and will continue to have on each and every one of us. As we continue to work on our first mission to protect the health of Vermonters, we also know financial security is critical for us to recover from this pandemic as well… Let me be clear: my team and I are fully aware these initiatives are not enough. People are hurting and businesses are at risk. Let me assure you: we will pull every lever and turn every dial we can to support folks through this time.” – Governor Phil Scott, March 20, 2020

The Scott Administration has implemented several initiatives – and announced forthcoming action on others – to help provide relief for individuals and businesses impacted by COVID-19 mitigation measures. 

(Click here for the Agency of Coimmerce and Community Development Resource Center)

On May 20, Governor Scott announced a $400 million economic relief and recovery package, using funds from the $1.25 billion the state received from the Federal CARES Act. Press Release | Governor's Press Conference

On June 12, Governor Scott announced Phase II a $400 million economic relief and recovery package, using funds from the $1.25 billion the state received from the Federal CARES Act. Proposal

Unemployment Benefits

** For details on available benefits for individuals, both through state and federal action, please visit accd.vermont.gov/covid-19/individuals **

  • Made unemployment available to all Vermonters who can’t work because of coronavirus.
  • Waived the work search requirement for those who are laid off or had their hours reduced during this emergency.
  • Established an online form for initial unemployment insurance claims to help Vermonters submit claims more quickly.
  • Worked with the legislature to allow the extension of unemployment insurance benefits for those who can’t work due to childcare needs during the State of Emergency.
  • Worked with the legislature to provide unemployment insurance experience rating relief to employers for temporary layoffs and good cause for quits due to COVID-19.
  • Made changes to the Unemployment Insurance (UI) program that will reduce employers’ UI tax rates and increase the maximum weekly benefit amount for UI claimants - effective July 1.

Healthcare

  • Directed insurers to cover any medically necessary COVID-19 testing without charging any out of pocket costs for the patient.
  • Directed insurers to make at least a 30-day supply of prescription medication available and encouraged insurers to make a larger supply available when appropriate.
  • The Department of Financial Regulation is working with MVP and Blue Cross Blue Shield to encourage the insurers to make sure no one loses their healthcare coverage during this time.
  • Urging insurers to expand coverage and reimbursement of telemedicine services, including for office services provided over the phone (audio-only) or by “store-and-forward” means that are currently appropriate for telemedicine, as well as for a broader scope of services, including mental health.
  • Announced an emergency regulation requiring commercial insurers to waive cost-sharing requirements, such as co-payments, coinsurance or deductible requirements, for the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19. The emergency regulation is retroactive to March 13, 2020, the date that Governor Scott declared a State of Emergency.

Utilities and Connectivity

  • The Public Service Department has been working with our utilities to ensure that folks are not disconnected during this emergency due to inability to pay. Vermont utilities have overwhelmingly stepped up and their cooperation was acknowledged in the PUC’s recent order to formalize this protection.
  • Public Service Department has published an interactive map of free Wi-Fi hotspots to support our students and workers now learning and working remotely as well as a web page detailing new connectivity resources to help keep folks in touch and get on-line during the COVID-19 emergency.
  • Will work with the legislature to ease barriers to construction of essential communications facilities to ensure systems are not interrupted in this time of critical need.
  • Worked with the Legislature to put in place a temporary moratorium on disconnections from public drinking water and wastewater systems
  •  Announced an innovative collaboration with several partners that will increase internet access by means of public Wi-Fi hotspots for dozens of rural towns in Vermont. Deployment is already underway with installation of devices which begun Saturday, April 11. 

Small Business Support

** For details on available resources and funding for businesses, both through state and federal action, please visit accd.vermont.gov/covid-19/business **

  • Applied for and secured a statewide disaster declaration from the Small Business Administration, which will small business owners suffering economic injury due the COVID-19 pandemic to apply for SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), offering up to $2 million in assistance per business.
  • Provided relief to Vermont businesses who owe Meals and Rooms Tax or Sales and Use Tax until further notice, waiving penalties and interest for late submission of these taxes for taxpayers who are unable to meet the March 25 and April 25 filing deadlines.
  • Worked with the legislature to make sure businesses unemployment insurance experience ratings are not negatively affected by the expansion of coverage for workers.
  • Working with the legislature to provide funding to support small business loans through the Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) to provide state fund disaster relief loans.

  • Eased liquor laws to allow restaurants—which can currently only offer takeout and delivery—to sell alcoholic beverages as part of takeout service.
  • The Department of Health’s Food and Lodging licensing program will grant license extensions to all businesses (which includes restaurants, hotels, B&Bs, caterers, etc.) that are due for renewal March 1,2020 - June 30, 2020.
  • ACCD is providing resources to support businesses with technical assistance, regular guidance and more at accd.vermont.gov.
  • The Department of Liquor and Lottery’s liquor licensing and permitting program will grant license extensions to all businesses that are due for renewal on April 30, 2020. 

Flexibility and Relief

Contact Information

Office of Governor Phil Scott
109 State Street, Pavilion
Montpelier, VT 05609
Phone: 802 828-3333 (TTY: 800 649-6825)
Fax: 802 828-3339

Public Records Database and Agency Records Officer or Liaison Contact Information

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