Safe to say the Legislature is only thinking COVID-19 right now. Too soon to say if or when that will change. The Senate plans to reconvene Tuesday but apparently only to address emergency climate change legislation passed a week ago Friday by the House.
Gov. Phil Scott on Friday said Vermonters may have to wait a long time for business to return to normal as his administration pursues a COVID-19 response effort restricting citizens’ ability to work, support families and go to school.
There are 16,638 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States as of Friday, March 20, according to John Hopkins University. Vermont is reporting 29 positive cases and 2 deaths, with 808 total tests conducted.
Some recent environmental and fiscal decisions made by Vermont state government are being rethought, or at least second-guessed, due to the coronavirus.
Gov. Phil Scott said Wednesday that massive federal spending could be coming to help those hurt by the government’s shutdown of schools, restaurants and other societal institutions.
Legislation discussed and agreed upon during a Senate Government Operations Committee teleconference today would waive the state’s Open Meeting Law requirement for government bodies to meet in one physical location.
Speaking at a news conference Monday, Vermont’s top health official said that any mortality rate for coronavirus — even a very low rate — justifies taking extreme social distancing measures, including closing schools and restricting public gatherings.
The move follows similar actions taken by about two-dozen states. An estimated 25 million students across the nation will be home for various periods. Vermont schools will be closed from Wednesday until at least April 6.
Despite this week’s closure of the Vermont State House, most Vermont Senate committees are scheduled to meet this week via remote access. The public is welcome to attend remotely as well.
Dr. Joshua White of the Gifford Medical Center in Randolph says that logic and reason must prevail over fear and panic if the public is to be part of the solution for containing the coronavirus.
The weeklong break will give time for a thorough cleaning of the State House and will give legislative leaders a chance to consider the next move.