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Vermont News Headlines

Celebrating Juneteenth on the lake 8 May 2021


BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - This year, Burlington is taking its celebration of Juneteenth to the water.

Registration for “A Sailing Celebration for Black Vermonters” opened this week and was booked within two hours.

Fifty people will embark on a journey on Lake Champlain on the weekend of the June 19. On that day in 1865, the last of the country’s enslaved people finally got word of their freedom — more than two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

Ferene Paris Meyer, one of the event organizers, says they want this year’s celebration to give descents of slaves a chance to positively connect with water and ships, while acknowledging the role they played in their ancestors’ lived experiences.

“Reclaiming what waters and boats mean to Black people and our narrative. When we think about that historical context, it’s reclaiming this joy and this land and this ancestry. That is ours too,” said Paris Meyer. “And I find the water and collecting with the elements to be so healing.”

There are a total of six sailing excursions planned between June 18 and 20. Each one will feature storytelling performances from local Black artists and refreshments.

The cruises are being offered by Whistling Man Schooner Company, which is one of more than a dozen event sponsors. Other sponsors include August First, Zero Gravity Craft Brewery, Winooski Strong, and All Heart Inspirations.

If you want to attend but missed the registration, you can add your name to the waiting list.

Copyright 2021 WCAX. All rights reserved.

Latest coronavirus numbers -- WCAX continuing coverage 7 May 2021


•As of Friday, Vermont health officials reported 75 new coronavirus cases for a total of 23,393. There have been a total of 249 deaths. The state’s percent positive seven-day average is 1.2%. A total of 384,423 people have been tested, and 21,118 have recovered.

•As of Friday, New Hampshire health officials have reported a total of 96,337 coronavirus cases. There have been a total of 1,311 deaths.

•As of Friday, Clinton County, New York, has had a total of 4,695 confirmed cases and 32 deaths.

•As of Friday, Essex County, New York, has had a total of 1,626 confirmed cases and 27 deaths.

•As of Friday, Franklin County, New York, has had a total of 2,572 confirmed cases and 16 deaths.

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COVID-19 Stat Center


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Vermont Vaccination Dashboard Data used with permission, find more about the Vermont Department of Heath Vaccine Dashboard and FAQs for their data here>>

Vermont COVID Infection Dashboard Data used with permission, find more from the Vermont Department of Heath and FAQs for their data here>>

Tap/click for a bigger view from Johns Hopkins University. Tap/click here for a mobile-friendly version.

IMPORTANT TELEPHONE NUMBERS/CONTACTS:

***Click here for the latest information on who qualifies for COVID-19 vaccinations in Vermont and to register online for an appointment. You can also call to make an appointment at 855-722-7878. The call center is open Monday-Friday, 8:15 a.m.-5:30 p.m., and Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.***

If you are sick and have questions, call your primary care physician. If you do not have one, call 211.

Vt. Department of Health: 802-863-7240

NH Division of Public Health Services: 603-271-4496

NY Novel Coronavirus Hotline 1-888-364-3065

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE VIRUS AND STEPS TO TAKE TO PREVENT ITS SPREAD, SEE THE LINKS BELOW:

More information from the Vermont Department of Health

More information from the New Hampshire Department of Health

More information from the NY Department of Health

More information from the CDC

UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS/SMALL BUSINESS ASSISTANCE

Vermont unemployment claims

Vermont information for small businesses

Vt. Agency of Commerce and Community Development small business disaster hotline: 802-461-5143

New Hampshire unemployment claims

Small Business Administration

New York unemployment claims

REGIONAL COVID-19 TIMELINE (AS OF 5/8)

March 2 -- first Upper Valley NH case confirmed

March 7 -- first Vermont case confirmed in Bennington county

March 11 -- VT activates emergency operations center, first Chittenden County case confirmed

March 13 -- state of emergency declared, began restricting size of gatherings, restricted visitors to long-term care facilities

March 15 -- schools closed

March 16 -- reduced gathering sizes more, closed bars and restaurants

March 17 -- child care closures

March 18 -- in-person DMV restricted, first nursing home case

March 19 -- first VT deaths from coronavirus

March 20 -- elective surgeries suspended

March 22 -- closure of close-contact biz, limited gatherings to 10 or fewer people

March 23 -- telecommuting ordered

March 24 -- stay home stay safe order issued, closure directed of in-person operations for non-essential biz the next day (March 25)

March 26 -- schools closed for rest of school year. NH orders residents to stay home & non-essential biz to close

March 30 -- all coming in from out-of-state have to quarantine at home for two weeks

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April 10 -- extended stay at home order through May 15

April 17 -- announced phased restart with five areas of focus

April 20 -- first biz reopen (outdoor work, small groups of 2 or fewer)

April 24 -- expands work crews to 5 or fewer, adds manufacturing reopening, greenhouse sales allowed with 10 person limit, mandates masks and safety training for biz

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May 4 -- Crews of 10 or fewer in manufacturing/construction/distribution, outpatient elective procedures can resume

May 6 -- limited social gatherings (10 or fewer, preferably outdoors) may resume, “trusted households” -- high-risk & seniors have to stay home still

May 7 -- some outdoor recreation may resume (golf, guided hikes, skate parks, etc.)

May 8 -- Ed agency announces traditional in-person large graduations are not allowed

May 11 -- Full/normal operations for manufacturing/construction/distribution

May 13 -- antibody testing group update (expected)

May 15 -- state of emergency expires but is extended to June 15

May 18 -- child cares can start bringing staff back, some nonessential businesses can reopen under guidelines

May 22 -- In-patient medical procedures, dentists, and most other one-on-one health visits reopen with guidelines; restaurants, lodgings, marinas reopen under guidelines

May 29 -- Salons and barbershops can reopen

May 29 -- NH stay-at-home order extended to June 15

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June 1 -- child cares reopen as able & with changes based on health dept. guidance; museums, gyms, spas, massage therapists, nail salons, cleaning services, and similar “interior maintenance” businesses can reopen

June 5 -- New Hampshire lodgings can resume with guidelines

June 8 -- Interstate travel to and from New England and New York counties with 400 or fewer active COVID-19 cases per million is permitted.

June 8 -- Vt. Indoor dining will be permitted with 25% occupancy limits and social distancing and health and safety protocols.

June 15 -- Vt. emergency order extended to July 15

June 15 -- NH stay-at-home order ends

June 15 -- Vt. lodging reservations start again. Travelers may complete quarantine requirements in their home state. Lodging operations may also increase occupancy limits to 50% or a total of 25 guests and staff, whichever is greater.

June 19 -- Vermont long-term care residential facilities can allow up to two visitors per resident, per day. Visits must be outdoors.

June 22 -- NH day camps allowed to open with guidelines.

June 25 -- Vermont State Parks camping allowed

June 28 -- NH overnight camps allowed to open (guidelines in development)

July 7 -- Gov. Scott says he will likely extend the emergency order that’s set to expire on July 15 for another month

July 15 -- Vt. emergency order is extended to August 15

July 17 -- Agriculture Assistance Program applications open

August 1 -- Vt. mask mandate begins

August 14 -- Vt. emergency order extended to September 15

August 26 -- Deadline for Operational Relief Grant Program to help child care programs offset pandemic-related expenses and losses.

September 8 -- Vermont statewide return to school date

September 15 -- Vt. emergency order expires and is extended to October 15

September 18 -- Vermont bars allowed to reopen counter service and lodgings go to full-capacity

September 21 -- Vt. school sports inter-team scrimmages delayed

September 26 -- Vt. schools enter step three and sports inter-team scrimmages begin

October 1 -- Deadline for Agriculture Assistance Program extended to November 15

October 15 -- Vt. emergency order expires and is extended to November 15

October 15 -- Guidelines for Vt. school winter sports to be released

October 15 -- Vt. moratorium on utility shutoffs ends

November 10 -- All visitors or residents returning to Vermont required to quarantine

November 13 -- Gov. Scott issues new guidelines on social gatherings, bars and restaurants, and sports leagues.

November 15 -- Deadline for Agriculture Assistance Program

November 15 -- Vt. emergency order expires and is extended to December 15

November 18 -- Front-Line Employees Hazard Pay Grant Program revised deadline (previously 11/13)

November 23 -- Surge site at Champlain Valley Expo ready for patients

November 24 -- Start of high school winter sports season put on hold

December 7 -- Vermont Supreme Court extends judicial emergency until March 31

December 15 -- First Vt. and NH health care workers receive COVID-19 vaccine

December 15 -- 100 total deaths reported in Vermont

December 15 -- Vt. emergency order expires and is extended to January 15

December 23 -- Vt. families temporarily allowed to gather with one other trusted household till January 2.

December 26 -- Public outdoor recreation with others, and youth league and school sports practices can begin.

December 29 -- Vt. officials announce age-based vaccination strategy

January 2 -- Return to no social gatherings

January 15 -- Vt. emergency order is extended to February 15

January 18 -- Phase 2 of Vt. school athletics plan begins

January 25 -- Vermont vaccination registration open to age 75+

January 27 -- Vermont vaccination clinics begin for age 75+

February 12 -- Inter-school and youth league competitions allowed with restrictions

February 15 -- Vt. emergency order expires and is extended to March 15

February 16 -- Vt. vaccine registration opens for 70-plus age category

February 23 -- Fully vaccinated individuals allowed to gather with one trusted household

February 23 -- Fully vaccinated individuals do not need to quarantine to travel to Vermont or return to Vermont.

February 26 -- Easing of guidelines begins for Vermont long-term care facilities

March 1 -- Vt. vaccine registration opens for 65-plus age category

March 8 -- Vt. vaccine registration opens for teachers/childcare workers, correctional officers, public safety employees, 55-plus with underlying conditions

March 11 -- Vt. vaccine registration opens for 16-54 with underlying conditions

March 12 -- Vt. eases some social gathering, restaurant restrictions

March 15 -- Vt. emergency order is extended to April 15

March 24 -- Vt. bars and social clubs open under restaurant guidelines

March 25 -- Vt. vaccine registration opens for 60+

March 29 -- Vt. vaccine registration opens for 50+

March 31 -- Vt. vaccine registration opens for parents caring for children with underlying conditions

April 1 - Vt. vaccine registration opens for all members of BIPOC community 16+

April 5 -- Vt. vaccine registration opens for 40+

April 9 -- Step 1 of Vermont Forward reopening plan

April 12 -- Vt. vaccine registration opens for 30+

April 15 -- Vt. emergency order is extended to May 15

Apri 17 -- Vt. vaccine registration opens for high school students age 16-18

April 19 -- Vt. vaccine registration opens for 16+

April 29 -- Vt. vaccination registration opens for out-of-state college students, 2nd homeowners

May 1 -- Step 2 Vermont Forward reopening plan

May 15 -- Vt. emergency order ends

June 1 -- Step 3 Vermont Forward reopening plan

July 4 -- Completion of Vermont Forward reopening plan -- universal guidance for all sectors

WCAX CORONAVIRUS CONTINUING COVERAGE 2021:

State adds multiple clinics to get more Vermonters vaccinated

Sununu says New Hampshire ‘back to normal’

Mother’s Day celebrations return after being canceled by COVID last year

Weinberger: Chittenden County set to hit vaccine milestone

Mask mandate lifted at New Hampshire Statehouse

Talent show fundraiser fetches thousands for Vermont animal shelter

Food trucks return for Thursday Night Takeout event

Connecting the last mile: Vt. lawmakers hammer out millions in broadband investments

Sununu outlines infrastructure focus for virus relief funds

Dartmouth changes course, will allow guests at graduation

Vermont wins $12M in federal funds to fight overdoses

UVM president on COVID, cuts and sex assaults on campus

With more pandemic pets, officials want you to leash up

Vermont faces workforce shortage as some businesses struggle to reopen

Sanders not in favor of requiring vaccinations for kids

Consumers pay the price as car supplies run short

More college-bound Vermonters appealing financial aid offers

Hassan bill would help put people back to work in in-demand fields

NY extends eviction, foreclosure protections through August

Bill would make NH employers pay for any required COVID-19 test

Yankees, Mets to lift capacity limits for vaccinated fans

Levine: Vaccinated have role in helping others get shots

White House working to sell infrastructure plan to Americans

Stowe offers special promotions to encourage visitors

Survey: Many NY students began year without device, internet

More young Vermonters need shots; vaccine clinics taking walk-ins

New York loosens COVID restrictions for bars, restaurants

How schools are reimagining proms to keep students safe

COVID cluster at Lake Placid boarding school has many isolating

New York to set minimum staffing levels for nursing homes

July 4 fireworks returning to NH, but no entertainment, vendors

Feds: Man used fraudulent PPP loan to buy alpaca farm

Vermont Symphony Orchestra gets ready for in-person performances

State unsure how much fraudsters got in fake unemployment claims

What’s left on Vt. Legislature’s to-do list before adjournment

Mother, daughter reunited after COVID keeps them apart for a year

New York sets dates for major reopening from COVID

Vermont leads the nation in vaccine administration

COVID outbreak at New Hampshire nursing home not growing rapidly

Vermont DMV considering future of remote locations

Shaheen, Hassan support expansion of telehealth services

Can businesses demand customers, employees be vaccinated?

Hundreds attend 2021 COTS walk

Johnson & Johnson vaccine available at several clinics Sunday

Farmers markets make a return to our region

COTS Walk goes virtual again this year

Maine ends COVID-19 visitor testing and quarantine needs

NH health officials address COVID outbreak at vaccinated nursing home

Massive fraud attempts prompts shutdown for all new Vt. unemployment claims filed online

Spring surplus equipment auction goes online

NH senators ask for guidance on COVID relief funds

Vt. amending outdoor mask guidance; poised for Step 2 in reopening plan

1M restaurant meals provided in Vermont pandemic program

Vermont’s COVID-19 emergency mortgage assistance program reopens Monday

Out-of-state UVM students eager for vaccinations

Vermont directed to review thousands of unemployment claims

NH vaccination rate just shy of 60%; Sununu orders state workers to return May 10

Out-of-state students, part-time Vermonters eligible to register for vaccination

Cuomo’s order requiring food purchase with alcohol repealed

Burlington business treats essential workers to spa day

What’s keeping Vermonters up at night?

Vermonters reflect on Biden’s accomplishments 100 days in

Vermont work search requirement allows unemployed to seek part-time jobs

Panel aims to expedite northern border reopening

Burlington plans events and ‘equitable access to fun’

NH schedules 10 virtual job fairs after benefits change

Berlin motel housing homeless straining local police

Vt. COVID cases continue sharp decline

New Hampshire adds appointments for Johnson & Johnson vaccine

Measure would bar NH from requiring vaccine ‘passports’

NY opening mass vaccination sites to walk-in shots for all

School districts developing recovery plans without standardized testing data

Camping demand during COVID leaves RVs in short supply

Audit finds human error likely cause of Vt. data breach

Will reinstated work search requirement help Vermont businesses hire?

Homeless Vermonters step up to get COVID shots at state-run clinic

High school football back on in New York’s North Country

Will familiar faces in PSAs inspire people to get COVID vaccinations?

NY eases more COVID-19 safety rules as new cases plummet

Hundreds of Johnson & Johnson vaccine slots open in Northeast Kingdom

US Supreme Court review wanted on NH House in-person sessions

Where Vt. senior centers are in the reopening process

NH performance venue shows hope for tourism traffic

Use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine resumes in New York

Berlin, Barre to host pop-up vaccine site for homeless

BIPOC-only vaccine clinic this week

City Brew Tours offers virtual beer experiences

Vermont publishes virus relief spending on new dashboard

New Yorkers 60+ to get walk-in vaccinations at state-run sites

NH residents on unemployment will need to show they’re job hunting

Vt. poised to resume J&J vaccinations as early as Tuesday

NY won’t say what it told DOJ about nursing home outbreaks

Architectural scavenger hunt series kicks off Saturday

SBA COVID relief program aims to make restaurants whole

VP Harris visits NH, pushes infrastructure plan

NH Motor Speedway hosts followup vaccine clinic

Plattsburgh tech students’ tiny house going to the highest bidder

Guidance released for Vt. proms, graduations; Roster of summer programs in the works

Skiers reflect on season that keeps giving

Mowers and gardening appliances in short supply

Johnson & Johnson vaccine to resume in Vermont following pause

Vermonters react as CDC considers revising outdoor mask guidelines

Why are Vermont kids waiting days for emergency mental health care?

VA celebrates return of some volunteers

Burlington COVID cases dropping; North Beach no superspreader

Vergennes workout ‘Warriors’ persist through pandemic

New Hampshire residents react to end of mask mandate

Second gentleman visits Vermont

Nearly 55% of Vermonters partially vaccinated; NH 49%

New Hampshire school hit by COVID outbreak

Dartmouth-Hitchcock starts program for post-COVID ‘long-haulers’

Vt. officials consider best use for millions in broadband funding

Tips to ease back into social activities post-pandemic

Vermont company designs outdoor classroom structures

Leahy opens hearings on president’s infrastructure bill

US-Canada border closure extended again

8 NH school districts allowed partially remote schedules

Vt. health officials optimistic about falling COVID numbers, vaccination uptake

Are young Vermonters signing up for COVID vaccinations?

New Vt. relief bill becomes law without governor’s signature

Homeless residents at Brattleboro hotel in quarantine

Relaxed COVID rules let couples say ‘I do’ to summer ceremonies

After surge, NY eases rules as new COVID-19 cases drop

Vermonters 16 and older eligible for COVID vaccine Monday

Out-of-staters eligible for COVID shots in New Hampshire

New York AG investigating Cuomo’s use of aides on book

Vermont sees spike in unemployment fraud

Cuomo signs bill to cut taxes for middle class New Yorkers

Vt. ski resorts lost estimated $100M during pandemic winter

Deborah Birx to address grads at Plymouth State University

How puppets are helping kids manage anxiety

Are Vermont families ready to embrace summer camp?

Keeping the magic alive for kids during a pandemic

Eligible Vt. students to receive $14.7M in food benefits

Vermont roadside quarantine signs to come down

Vermont Brewers Festival canceled again

Undocumented New Yorkers to benefit from $2B relief fund

Municipal mask mandates remain in place across New Hampshire

Northern Stage presents interactive ‘live’ mystery

Vaccination signups for Vt. high school students to open Saturday

Vermont Interfaith Action presents housing requests to Legislature

Getting ready to resume jury trials in Vermont

Sununu lifting mask mandate

Should parents worry about pandemic’s long-term effects on kids?

Dartmouth latest school to require student vaccinations

Vermont reaches 50% 1st dose milestone; cancels J&J appointments through April 23

Startling new numbers reveal Vermont’s deadly drug problem

Vermont businesses scour for willing workers

Vermont courts seek to use $13.6 million to ease backlog

New York bars, restaurants can soon stay open until midnight

Vaccine Q&A with Vt. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine

Music fills the hallways of South Burlington High School

Vt., NY, NH put J&J vaccination programs on ‘pause’

Area colleges taking different approaches to commencements

Doctors not overly concerned about Johnson and Johnson vaccination

Special Olympics Vermont takes cautious approach to restarting programming

Rutland eatery hosting benefit for local firefighters

Johnson and Johnson ‘pause’ won’t slow vaccine rollout in New Hampshire

COVID outbreak at Newport prison over

Will Vermont families go on vacation over school break?

UNH to require proof of vaccination or negative COVID test at graduation

Vermont farmers to see relief in governor’s recovery plan

Burlington beaches packed with students spark trash, COVID concerns

Ski season winds down after tough year thanks to pandemic

Pandemic paperwork backlog leaves veterans in limbo

Joint effort helps Special Olympians, UVM medical students during pandemic

Vermonters 30+ now eligible for COVID vaccinations

Burlington on track to meet net-zero energy goal

Car mechanics see more rusted brakes following the pandemic winter

UVM officials to look into possible punishments following beach parties

NH Gov. Sununu receives his vaccine

Lonely Brandon veterans excited to return to renovated American Legion

Brandon area food distribution events continue

VIDEO: Big crowds at Burlington’s beaches this weekend

Save Lives Act allows VA to vaccinate veterans, their spouses, and caregivers

UVM to have in-person graduation

BIPOC leaders urge state to keep prioritizing marginalized communities after pandemic

Cutting the COVID vaccine line legally

Vermont seniors praying for prom

Vt. takes first step to easing travel rules

Stuck in Vermont: Talking to people on Church Street about reentry anxiety

As the weather warms, tents start going up for outdoor classrooms

Court rules for Democrats in debate over NH legislative session

Essex Junction woman creates mini art gallery

Phase 1 of Vermont’s reopening plan begins Friday

Vermonter paints largest cow in the US

Will pandemic politics have lasting impact in Vermont?

Leahy visits Richmond outdoor classroom to tout $400M school relief package

New York to offer COVID aid to immigrants excluded earlier

COVID outbreak at Ethan Allen in Orleans

New Hampshire to offer vaccine to out-of-staters

Rental assistance available for Vt. tenants and landlords

Some schools seeking a delay to full-time, in-person classes

New guidance released for Vermont schools

Amtrak to resume Vermont service in mid-July

Vt. Health Department wants you to share your vaccine story

New Hampshire House sends $13.5B budget to Senate

NY set to hike taxes on rich, boost spending in budget

Vermont kid tests morale ‘vaccine’ on sick grandparents

Weinberger addresses concerns about coronavirus variant in Burlington

Hassan highlights funding to combat pandemic scammers

UVM continues to see increase in COVID cases

Rutland hospital creates vaccine standby list to prevent wasted doses

Vermont Children’s Theater gears up for new season

New York lawmakers, governor reach deal on late budget

Scott administration releases plan to spend billion dollar relief package

From sore arms to allergic reactions, expert says vaccination experiences vary

SUNY Plattsburgh holds vaccination clinics for all students

Vermont Visionaries: Kerry Farrell

Spouses, caregivers now eligible for vaccine at VA

Vermont sends mobile clinic to area with lowest vaccination rate

Scott decries ‘racist response’ to BIPOC vaccine eligibility

Testing recommended after New Hampshire campus outbreak

Childhood obesity an unintended consequence of pandemic

Scott announces phased-in reopening; back to ‘normal’ by July

Member of Gov. Sununu’s office tests positive for COVID

Burlington mayor to focus on ending systemic racism during 4th term

COVID-19 vaccine eligibility expands to 16 and over in NY

Families frustrated by low vaccination rate among veterans home staff

Vermont opens vaccine eligibility to those 40+

Gov. Scott gets vaccinated, urges Vermonters to follow suit

Appeals court considers remote access to New Hampshire House

Masks make it more difficult for police to identify suspects

New broadband bill would subsidize service instead of building out

UVM Medical Center pandemic protocols change for expecting families

ECHO helps raise fish during pandemic for Trout in the Classroom

Translators helping alleviate non-English speakers’ fears at vaccination clinics

Castleton teen raising money for struggling farmers

Health officials urge nonvaccinated people to stay home for Easter

Families enjoy creative, contactless egg hunt

Craft show returns for the first time in a year

Racial gap in vaccinations remains at 13% despite BIPOC-focused clinics

Hope, love undeterred by border closure

Vt., NH take different approaches to vaccine distribution

Putting together a yearbook during the pandemic

Sanders announces $33 million funding for community health centers

NH vaccinations open to all 16+ residents Friday

New York loosening long-term care visitation rules

Vt. ed agency to announce summer programming plans

Funeral directors cope with pandemic backlog

Amtrak banking on infrastructure package for major upgrades

Super Senior: Karen Williams

Vt. to allow 3-foot distancing in schools; COVID surge prompts student testing

Outdoor sidewalk and street dining resuming in NH

BIPOC Vermonters can register for their vaccine Thursday

Beds Available: Vermont’s eldercare homes hope to recover from the pandemic

Couple ties knot in impromptu Church Street wedding

Sunset Drive-In opens for 73rd season

Vt. officials to open vaccinations to out-of-state students by April 30

Vermont celebrity baker shares pandemic story

New Hampshire debates vaccines for out-of-state students

Religious leaders mark 2nd year of pandemic Holy Week

How community kept kids close to home when school closed

2021 STORY INDEX:

March

February

January

2020 STORY INDEX:

December

November

October

September

August

July

June

May

April

March/February

Ruling has more Vt. families considering religious schools for their kids 7 May 2021


RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - A recent state ruling has more Vermont families considering religious schools for their kids.

Based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year, the State Board of Education says public tax dollars can be used for students attending religiously affiliated private schools.

There are 111 school districts in Vermont. Of those, 44 do not offer some level of schooling, like a high school. They are called tuitioning districts because they pay other schools tuition to take their students.

Usually, this means families choose among a short list of nearby public schools. But the law also allows tuition to be directed to private schools. The money has never applied to religious schools, but that is now changing.

“It’s been a new game-changer for these families,” said Lisa Lorenz, the principal and president of Rice Memorial High School.

Since hearing about the board of education ruling requiring districts to pay school choice tuition to religious schools, more families are showing interest in Rice, a Catholic school in South Burlington.

Rice officials say about 10 families are thinking about making the switch. A few have already signed up.

“There are a lot of families who I have known over the years tell me, ‘I could never come to Rice because I can’t afford to pay the tuition and it just wasn’t an opportunity.’ So they have had to choose the public school systems and they really wanted to be here,” Lorenz said.

Lorenz says there are already 17 families with students at Rice who are from tuitioning towns. She says many of those families are going back to their districts asking for tuition payments.

But that board of education ruling may not provide a clear-cut path to those tuition dollars.

“I will do what I have to do to do the right thing for my son,” said Michael Valente of Mount Holly.

Valente is one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit trying to force the state to comply with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the religious school issue. His son, Dominic, is a sophomore at Mount St. Joseph Academy in Rutland.

The Mount Holly family is part of the Two Rivers Supervisory Union which does not have a high school.

The Valente family chose to send Dominic to the Catholic school because of his hearing issues and its convenience to his father’s office.

The lawsuit is still pending because the tuition money has yet to be paid.

“The Two Rivers Supervisory Union agreed to pay. How much and the details are still being worked out,” Valente said.

While the board of education said districts have to pay, how much is still an issue. The board of education ruling says school districts could ask the schools to “certify that public tuition payments will not be used to fund religious instruction or religious worship.”

Valente’s attorney argues you cannot separate the religious practices from the tuition price.

“They will not be able to get tuition for next year unless they can somehow guarantee that this money won’t be used for religious instruction and that’s crazy,” said Erica Smith, an Institute for Justice attorney.

Valente ultimately hopes everyone can get an education that benefits them.

“I want everyone to have the ability to have the money follow them and go where they believe their best education can be,” he said.

The Virginia-based Institute for Justice is currently suing the state of Vermont, saying preventing tuition money from going to religious schools is unconstitutional.

The state is not commenting.

This case is ongoing and we will continue to follow it.

Copyright 2021 WCAX. All rights reserved.

Sununu says New Hampshire ‘back to normal’ 7 May 2021


HANOVER, N.H. (WCAX) - New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu says when it comes to the pandemic, things will be back to normal starting this weekend. Sununu cites the state’s dropping COVID case counts and rising vaccination rates. But, some town leaders say not so fast.

Beginning this weekend in New Hampshire, state guidelines for businesses and organizations that have been in place for months will expire as the state switches to a “best practices” model.

“I think we are going to be back to normal on Saturday, frankly,” said Sununu, R-New Hampshire.

But Sununu’s prediction is directly contradicted by Hanover Town Manager Julia Griffin.

“It will not be going back to normal,” Griffin said.

While masks are no longer required across the Granite State, some towns, like Hanover, continue to mandate them. Gatherings of more than 10 people are also still prohibited here without a permit.

“We want to get through at least Dartmouth graduation,” she said.

Absent a local restriction like in Hanover, beginning May 8, capacity limits for businesses, like bars and restaurants, have been lifted. And crowd sizes at large events no longer need to be limited.

“We are not there yet. We only have a small portion of our staff is fully vaccinated,” said Jarett Berke, the owner of Lou’s Restaurant.

Outdoor dining is back at Lou’s on Main Street in Hanover. The extra seats allow the restaurant to continue to curb service indoors.

“We are good with where we are at with that 35% indoor and we will probably stay there for the foreseeable future,” Berke said.

Dartmouth College will be hosting an in-person graduation again. But the venue has changed to Memorial Field for more space and only two guests are allowed per student.

“I think parents were pretty bummed out after having paid for all these years of college not being able to come see us graduate, so we are definitely pretty excited to hear the administration changed their tune on that,” said Dartmouth senior Jeffers Insley.

This soon-to-be alumnus says he’s not ready to leave Hanover. But, he also says the town has a reputation for its strict rules.

“It seems like pretty soon Hanover should be following suit with what the CDC is recommending just as they are claiming that they have done this whole time,” Insley said.

Griffin says for every critic, there’s another person who thinks restrictions could be even tighter.

“We are trying to hold to a line that has been effective for us,” Griffin said.

Etna resident Maris Nobel says the “new normal” will come in time.

“I am planning to take it slowly and cautiously,” she said.

Another thing that will not be going back to normal anytime soon is the current state of emergency in the Granite State. Governor Sununu says that will likely be in place until the end of the year because of the federal money that is tied to it.

Copyright 2021 WCAX. All rights reserved.

State adds multiple clinics to get more Vermonters vaccinated 7 May 2021


MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - The state of Vermont is engaging in a vaccination blitz this weekend.

To date, 65% of Vermonters have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. But when you drill down by age, you see the youngest Vermonters are lagging far behind. Just 33% of 16- and 17-year-olds have had a shot. And it’s only slightly higher for 18- to 29-year-olds.

Now, the state wants to bring the shot to as many people as possible, including those young people.

At a walk-in vaccination clinic in Essex Junction on Friday, there was a steady flow of nearly 1,000 Vermonters seeking the shot.

“I was worried I would need a car when I got here but I asked around and it was super smooth and the process went really quickly and everything just worked really nicely,” said Elijah Klein of Burlington.

This clinic is one of the state’s latest efforts to make vaccines as accessible to as many people as possible, especially young people who are lagging behind.

“Vaccines are our ticket out of this pandemic but it’s going to take everyone’s buy-in, especially younger Vermonters,” said Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont.

To boost those numbers, the state is standing up clinics at racetracks, schools, town halls and downtown centers. Walk in, get a shot, wait 15 minutes and then you’re on your way.

“This means offering vaccine in ways that don’t require logging into a website, crowbarring an appointment into your busy schedule or even to drive a long distance,” Vt. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said.

Vermonters can get COVID shots at several drive-thru and mobile clinic events across the state this weekend.

Friday, there will be a no-appointment-needed drive-thru clinic at the Tunbridge Fairgrounds starting at 10 a.m. It will have the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

There will also be a clinic Friday at Northern Vermont University.

Castleton will hold one Saturday.

Also on Saturday, clinics will be held at the Bear Ridge Speedway in Bradford and Devil’s Bowl Speedway in West Haven with no appointment needed, starting at 4 p.m. If you get vaccinated at Bear Ridge, you can stay to see the race for free or get a voucher to catch another race.

There will also be eight mobile clinics in Essex County and one in Caledonia County this weekend, all will offer the J&J shot. There are some walk-in spots available, but people can also make appointments.

The state is working to set up more clinics, including one at the Highgate Airport on May 13.

Click here to find out more about the clinic locations and to register for your shot or call 855-722-7878.

The state is also in talks with big employers about setting up clinics at job sites.

And next week, the feds may approve the Pfizer vaccine for kids 12-15.

School districts are working on reaching out to parents to keep them up to speed.

We asked some young people why they think uptake is low among their peers.

“It could be the work schedule, people not having the time if they work a 9 to 5,” said Connor MacKenzie of Montpelier.

“Young people are afraid to take away vaccines from people who they think need it more than they do,” said Robyn Dudley of Northfield.

Even with the recent outreach to younger Vermonters, some tell me that young people still aren’t hearing the message.

“In my friend groups at least, they don’t even know that they qualify. So when I do tell them they qualify, they’re in absolute shock and they’re immediately trying to find a place to vaccinate them,” said Aileen Diaz of Northfield.

Leaders say spreading the word and helping others get the shot will speed up the return to normal.

The governor says bars, concerts, gatherings, weddings and no more masks all depend on everyone signing up.

The governor says we’re still on track to meet our reopening benchmark next month, but he also says the state is always open to new ideas of how to reach Vermonters where they’re at.

Unlike some states that aren’t using all the doses they are allocated and are even declining to accept some of the doses they are offered, Vermont is keeping up with its vaccination schedule.

“We don’t have that problem yet in Vermont,” Scott said. “Obviously, it’s been reduced a bit, but we are still taking our full allocation and we’re asking for more as well.”

VOLUNTARY TESTING FOR CHILDREN

The state wants to make it easier than ever to test your kid for coronavirus.

The Vermont Agency of Education announced Friday it’s launching a school-based pilot program.

It’s a voluntary program, so parents have to give permission.

Only students 8 and older who aren’t vaccinated will be tested.

The districts participating starting this month include Burlington, Grand Isle, Orleans Southwest, Caledonia Central, Two Rivers and Southwest Vermont Technical Center.

“The new testing will likely lead to identification of additional cases, but this is good because it’ll help us in our efforts to stop the virus from spreading,” Vt. Education Secretary Dan French said.

French says up to 6,300 students could benefit just in those six districts.

He says plans to put this program in place for the summer and fall aren’t set yet.

THE NUMBERS

As of Friday, Vermont health officials reported 75 new coronavirus cases for a total of 23,393. There have been a total of 249 deaths.

The state’s percent positive seven-day average is 1.2%.

A total of 384,423 people have been tested, and 21,118 have recovered.

Seventeen people were hospitalized, four of them in the ICU.

Some 104,900 Vermonters have received their first dose and 255,300 have received first and last doses.

Levine says we had a week of new daily cases under 100.

The state is working to increase the number of people being vaccinated in order to hit the June 1 goal of having more than 70% of eligible Vermonters vaccinated. The state’s goal is to lift most COVID-19-related restrictions by July 4.

Copyright 2021 WCAX. All rights reserved.

Stuck in Vermont: The secret to superhuman strength 7 May 2021


BOLTON, Vt. (WCAX) - In this “Stuck in Vermont,” we meet a cartooning legend to learn the secret to superhuman strength.

Seven Days’ Eva Sollberger introduces you to Alison Bechdel. Watch the video to see.

Click here for “Stuck in Vermont.”

Copyright 2021 WCAX. All rights reserved.

New era for women in Vermont Army National Guard 7 May 2021


BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - History was made recently at the Vermont Army National Guard, and it means the potential for advancements for women who serve.

The Vermont Army National Guard became the first in the nation to be able to recruit women to all of its units.

That means women have more opportunities for different careers in the Guard and also leadership positions that previously were only open to men.

“It is amazing and I am so excited about this, I really am. I have been in a maintenance unit, there were some other units out there that at one time when I was younger I was interested in it, and it just wasn’t an option for me. So, to see that for the younger people who are joining in, it’s very exciting,” Sgt. Maj. Andrea Metcalf said.

“It might be a little scary or intimidating, but if you feel like that’s what you want to do, just go ahead and do it, give it a shot. You won’t know if you like it or not if you don’t give it the shot,” Pvt. Noelle Cave said.

The Guard hopes this will also lead to more women signing up to serve.

They will have female mentors on hand to help women transition into new roles.

Watch the videos to see our Cat Viglienzoni’s full interviews with Sgt. Maj. Metcalf and Pvt. Cave.

Copyright 2021 WCAX. All rights reserved.

Mother’s Day celebrations return after being canceled by COVID last year 7 May 2021


PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) - This time last year, many places were locked down. Mother’s Day was likely spent at home, and for many, without their mother. But this year, businesses expect to be busy.

Friday was a busy day for Nelson’s Flower Shop in Plattsburgh.

The shop took on new employees and drivers to fill the hundreds of daily flower orders for Mother’s Day, the shop’s busiest week of the year.

It didn’t even stop at the height of the pandemic.

“Last year, we were open for Mother’s Day with just me in the building and it was insane,” said Deborah Rollier of Nelson’s Flower Shop.

The staff race to clip stems, tie bows and bring the flowers to your loved ones.

“They simply make people happy, they make people smile,” Rollier said.

As the flower shop worked to put bouquets in place, the lawn filled at Trinity Park full of people with plans for this Mother’s Day.

“We’re going to do some very special things, get takeout and sing songs,” said Abbie Dfayette of Morrisonville.

“Going to be giving my mom a present which is known as the two bars of soap,” said Richie Patrie of Morrisonville.

Leading up to the weekend, people are reflecting on why their mom is so special.

“A wonderful woman,” said Shawn Colling of Plattsburgh. “I really appreciate her.”

“I love that we are really alike and she is just a sweet person and I just love to be around her and I appreciate everything that she does for me,” said Riley Stone of Plattsburgh.

Over the last year, some people have missed out on seeing their mothers. Lane Morse of Plattsburgh is grateful he’s been able to see his.

“Nothing’s guaranteed, you gotta take every day as you can and try to see people and try to make as many happy memories as you can in the time you’re given,” Morse said.

Over at Irises Cafe & Wine Bar, the celebration starts Saturday.

“We’ve got a lot of wines by the glass and over 40 martinis, so mom can come out for a drink, some good food and good company,” said Carol McLean of Irises.

But no Mother’s Day buffet on Sunday.

“Just with the regulations we can’t do the buffet-type service any longer, so just shifted over to do something small on Saturday,” McLean said.

Back to Nelson’s-- a long day at the shop to make sure your mom gets the gifts she deserves.

“We try to never say no,” Rollier said.

Copyright 2021 WCAX. All rights reserved.

Big cleanup underway at Burlington homeless camp 7 May 2021


BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - A big cleanup at a homeless camp in Burlington is underway as part of an effort to allow the encampment to legally remain at the site.

I’m told through a fund from Chittenden Solid Waste, the city paid under $4,000 for crews to go in and clean. And it was a welcome sight for the folks who live there.

Garbage and debris were removed from the Sears Lane homeless encampment by hand tools and machinery Friday morning.

“I want to emphasize that the same residents that are here now are totally different than one year ago. One year ago, they had fires and other things happening here,” said John Melvin-Trigg, who is homeless.

Folks who live there now say they appreciate the city’s help after they had tried to clean it up themselves.

“To tell ya’ it’s great, to walk in and see the years and years of rubbish just taken away,” said Brooks, who is homeless.

Social worker Lacey Smith is the community affairs liaison for the city and says this cleanup is not indiscriminate.

If there is any question, we don’t take it. It just gets moved closer to the campsite,” Smith said.

This is a part of the mayor’s plan to enforce city policy for camping on public property by making sure the camp is compliant with health and safety regulations.

The mayor calls the cleanup an important and necessary step as the city braces for the possibility of even more people on the street.

“There are pressures coming out of this pandemic. The hotel programs that have housed people during the pandemic are coming to an end,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger, D-Burlington.

But the mayor says he plans to continue to work with those on the site to find safe and stable housing elsewhere.

“We have a team working on this looking at ways to help ensure this doesn’t become a public health or public safety hazard as some of these encampments have in the past,” Weinberger said.

After the cleanup, the encampment residents say they are getting ready for a fresh start.

“I plan to stay here for two solid years right over there between those trees,” Melvin-Trigg said.

“Do I like this lifestyle? No, but it’s all I have right now,” Brooks said.

Neighbors who I talked to off-camera have expressed their unhappiness with the camp. They worry about crime, drugs and the safety of kids who pass by there on the way to school. But for now, there is no plan to remove the encampment.

Related Stories:

Burlington officials tour homeless encampment to address trash issue

Weinberger says homeless camp trash ‘unacceptable’

City scrambles to find solution to growing Burlington homeless camp

Copyright 2021 WCAX. All rights reserved.

New effort to get Vt. nurses up to speed on medical marijuana 7 May 2021


BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - wWhile medical marijuana has been on the market for several years, its use and treatments may be foreign to many health care providers and medical professionals.

Now, there’s a new educational program, in conjunction with National Nurses Week, to help get Vermont nurses up to speed on the medical use of cannabis.

Jessilyn Dolan is the president of the Vermont Cannabis Nurses Association and vice president of the American Nurses Association in Vermont. She spoke with our Darren Perron about the new educational push, what effect retail shops could have on the nursing profession and more. Watch the video to see the full interview.

Copyright 2021 WCAX. All rights reserved.



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