MONTPELIER — On Friday, Gov. Phil Scott announced that all Vermonters will be eligible to schedule their COVID-19 vaccine appointment by April 19 — the one year anniversary of the first COVID-19-related death in the state.
“Every one of them in their own way made their mark on those around them and in their communities,” Scott said in mourning for the 217 Vermont deaths since COVID-19 hit. “I know how tightly knit our communities are, and that a single loss can have a huge impact.”
Beginning on March 25, everyone age 60 and older will be able to register for a vaccine, and everyone aged 50 and older will be eligible four days later on March 29.
Beginning on April 5, everyone aged 40 and older will be able to register for the vaccine, and on April 12 Vermonters aged 30 and older will be eligible for registration.
On April 19, everyone 16 and older will be able to register for their COVID-19 vaccination, and Scott said he was hopeful that this June, many of Vermont’s high school seniors would be able to look forward to a more normal graduation ceremony.
Thirty percent of Vermont adults throughout the state have received at least one dose of a vaccine, including over 80% of Vermonters over the age of 70 and those over 16 with high-risk conditions, Scott said.
“Before long, the vast majority of those most at risk of severe illness or death will be protected,” Scott said.
Last week, restrictions on restaurants in Vermont were loosened slightly to allow for six people per table to dine together, and beginning on Wednesday, March 24, bars and clubs will fall under the same restaurant guidance.
Municipalities can independently choose to follow stricter guidelines if they feel that it is necessary, Scott said.
Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said there are currently 22 people in hospitals around the state with COVID-19 and five in the intensive care units. He reported no additional deaths as of Friday.
“These are some of the lowest numbers we’ve seen in many weeks,” Levine said.
If a Black, indigenous or person of color is eligible for the vaccine, members of their household are also eligible. Currently, that means anyone age 65 and older or 16 and older with a high-risk health condition.
Clinics are being scheduled for this week in Burlington through partnerships with the Racial Justice Alliance and the City of Burlington, and next week in Brattleboro in partnership with the NAACP of Vermont.
Seventy migrant farmworkers were vaccinated in Addison County on Wednesday in partnership with the Open Door Clinic, and vaccinations for English Language Learners and immigrant refugee communities have totaled around 100 people per week.
Deputy Education Secretary Heather Bouchey praised the Maple Run Unified School District in St. Albans, which is preparing their staff rosters by including the use of a social worker, early childhood representative and a representative from the Family Services Division of the Department for Children and Families to better serve their school communities in their COVID-19 recovery efforts.
She also praised the Franklin Northeast Supervisory Union for including a representative providing mental health services to their district. Federal and state agencies will leverage money to fund district efforts throughout the state through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund.
Districts will receive over $398 million in federal funds to be spent over the next three years on summer programming, learning loss, expanded after school and extended learning, mental health services, infrastructure changes, technology upgrades and equipment and any activities that would regularly be funded through title dollars providing support for marginalized students, Perkins dollars for CTE centers and other support programs.
In addition, $44 million in one-time ESSER funds will also be allocated to the Agency of Education for emergency needs, and all additional funding will be available until 2023, Bouchey said.
Churches, schools, municipalities and other buildings will ring out their bells 14 times at 7 p.m. Friday in honor of the lives lost to COVID-19 in each of the 14 counties of the state, Scott said, and flags around Vermont will continue to fly at half mast, though there is light at the end of the tunnel of COVID-19.
“As we mourn, we can also be optimistic about the road ahead,” Scott said. “Just one year ago, no one thought we’d have these three, highly-effective vaccines to protect ourselves today. And we are making great progress.”