By Isabella Davitt
Vermont’s COVID-19 protocols continue to change after the recent spike of cases raises concerns for the state, putting Vermont into the same restrictions that St. Michael’s College has imposed in recent weeks.
On Friday, Nov. 13, Governor Phil Scott announced in his press conference several new measures to slow the spread of the Coronavirus for the state of Vt. Although the state of Vt has had success with keeping the cases of COVID-19 under control, recent fatigue has caused cases to rise.“I want to be clear, we’re in a new phase of this pandemic. The days of very low risk are over,” said Scott.
As of Nov. 23, Vt has had a total of 3,629 cases, resulting in 63 deaths. “We continue to see a rise in cases… going from an average of 25 per day last week, to 72 cases reported Wednesday, 109 reported Thursday, 84 reported today. We’re definitely moving in the wrong direction,” Scott said. Since the press conference on Nov. 13, the Vermont Department of Health has reported more than 700 new cases.
To decrease the rise in cases, the state has banned all multi-household gatherings, including indoor, outdoor, public, or private. Indoor service and gatherings at bars and social clubs are also banned, and all restaurants must stop serving indoor service at 10 pm.
The Vt Department of Health discovered that the majority of the recent outbreaks in the state are being traced back to private social gatherings, such as baby showers, or tailgates, or other events where multiple households are getting together, while not socially distancing or wearing masks for a prolonged period of time.
“Since Oct. 1, 71 percent of the cases that are associated with an outbreak, are associated with an outbreak from a private party or a social gathering,” said Vermont Health Commissioner, Dr. Mark Levine, in the same press conference, on Nov. 13.
Due to this rapid increase in cases, and people beginning to let their guard down around COVID-19 guidelines and protocols, Governor Scott said, adding, “We have no choice but to restrict social gatherings.”
“I know this is incredibly difficult and frustrating, especially with the holidays right around the corner but it’s necessary,” Scott said. With less than a week until the Thanksgiving holiday, these new measures leave many people scrambling to downsize and change their plans.
“This will be the first year I’m not going to my Grammies for Thanksgiving. Usually, there would be around 25 people in the house for the holiday but obviously we can’t do that anymore because of the new guidelines and because she is more vulnerable,” said Mikaela McMahon ’21, Manchester, Vt.
“My Thanksgiving plans changed this year because we always see family in Long Island, but due to the new COVID measures, we have to stay in Vermont this year,” said Ryan Rogge ’23, Bennington, Vt.
“I was going to go to my grandparent’s house, which is just in Burlington, but my grandma’s sister has pulmonary fibrosis and since it’s getting bad here again we shouldn’t go. Plus with the governor’s new mandate we can’t go anyway. Now we just have to stay home and not do much,” said Nacole Barrett ’22, Colchester, Vt.
In addition to the ban on social gatherings, on Saturday, Nov. 14 starting at 10 pm, all bars and social clubs were to close all in-person service. Restaurants can remain open for indoor service until 10 pm every night, however, parties must be sitting with people from the same household. Bars, social clubs, and restaurants are facing new protocols because these are the places where people are unmasked due to eating or drinking, and not socially distancing, Scott explained.
“We’re asking Vermonters to do the right thing here. They’ve done it before. In the initial stages of the pandemic, Vermonters stepped up, they did the right thing. We had this under control,” Governor Scott said. “We have to do all we can to take this on and protect ourselves. I know we can do this but it’s going to take all of us in order to be successful.”