Governor’s presser: No to new mandates, nurse shortage ongoing, high case counts continue

Highly vaccinated Vermont continues to see high case counts for COVID-19, and the governor and his staff on Tuesday continued to blame variants for the state’s pandemic troubles.

“When you look at the reasons, it has to do with the Delta variant, which is way more contagious than anything we’ve encountered before, being spread very rapidly by people,” Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said. “It has to do with the with the fact that we’ve had probably the lowest-in-the-nation rate of people having had COVID prior to the Delta variant, so we have very little immunity in the population for the virus.”

state of Vermont

Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine

Levine continued with explanations for the high number of cases.

“We’ve also had the most efficient and early vaccine success, so that because waining of vaccine immunity is a real phenomenon, we would of had a population that was at higher risk for that as well needing a booster,” he said. “And we have a very mobile population who have been taking advantage of the fact that they’ve been vaccinated and doing things in person much more than before.”

The governor said the unvaccinated are mostly responsible for spreading the virus.

“As we’ve said, it’s showing that 70 percent of those cases are amongst the unvaccinated, and when you start doing the math that’s a pretty small population,” Republican Gov. Phil Scott said. “When you do look at those percentages it does skew towards … a pretty obvious fact that this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

Daily COVID testing at schools

Testing of asymptotic Vermonters may increase more with the school COVID-19 mitigation strategy called “Test to Stay.” Secretary of the Agency of Education Dan French said the program pushes for more regular testing of asymptotic children before they enter school buildings.

“It’s part of a larger testing strategy which is called response testing, which is putting testing capacity at the school level so school nursing staff can have access to testing at the point of need, and in real-time,” he said. “Test to Stay students participate in a daily antigen test screening process prior to entering a school building for seven days in a row.”

He says about half of the state’s school districts have already signed up, about 51,000 antigen test kits have been ordered, and about 13,000 parental consent forms have been turned in.

Some studies contest the notion that young asymptomatic students are common spreaders of the virus, including one by the CDC earlier this year. The Federalist’s Georgi Boorman wrote about the CDC report involving 17 schools, and “only seven cases were linked to in-school transmission out of 4,876 pupils,” she reported.

The nursing shortage could get worse

Also at the press conference, officials took questions about how many Vermont nurses are expected to leave their positions due to COVID-19 vaccination requirements. Secretary of the Agency of Human Services Mike Smith largely downplayed the concern.

“As you know throughout the United States we’ve had a nursing shortage. We’ve had a nursing shortage before the pandemic started, but it’s been acutely sort of recognized since the pandemic has been going on,” he said. “These beds have not been unstaffed before any sort of vaccine sort of mandate, they’ve been unstaffed because they haven’t been able to get the nurses to staff them.”

That situation could change as Jan. 4 is a vaccination deadline for 100-percent hospital employment vaccination. Last Saturday at the “Let’s Go Brandon” event in Brandon, Vermont, a nurse told TNR that more than three hundred nurses and nurse assistants (LNAs/RNAs) are expected to leave their positions for reasons related to the federal vaccination mandate.

A nationwide poll by the Epoch Times indicates that up to 37 percent of the nationwide workforce who are currently facing vaccine or weekly testing mandates are planning to quit their jobs rather than comply.

The governor told TNR at the end of the conference that his administration would look further into the nurse-shortage situation.

New mandates are unlikely for now

Both the governor and Levine commented on why new statewide COVID-19 related mandates are an unlikely strategy for the immediate future. Levine said they can turn people’s attitudes against the policy in question.

“I’ve done a fair amount of emailing and phone calling to colleagues at my level in states that have had mandates, and they will actually attest to what our governor has said — compliance has been really challenging,” he said. “They find that populations are not only not in the mood to be mandated on anything, but that they were, akin to my opening comments today, already exiting the pandemic.”

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Images courtesy of ORCA Media and state of Vermont

10 thoughts on “Governor’s presser: No to new mandates, nurse shortage ongoing, high case counts continue

  1. To bad this pandemic became politicized right out of the gate. Instead of logically teaching people what COVID-19 is, how it advances through populations, and simple ways of denying it a means of spreading, government officials came up with a plethora of theories that were worthless, and started the political blame game. Albeit, I am fully vaccinated. As a veteran who has been overseas multiple times, I am accustomed to getting shots for preventing all sorts of loathsome diseases. They work.
    Vermont’s numbers were very low for infections and deaths, until the state started opening up and people in general discontinued wearing masks and social distancing. All the stores pulled up the six foot reminders on the floor at checkouts. Used to be I saw only 2 or 3 people in chain stores without masks. Now I only see two of three wearing them. Covid is far from being over especially now that winter has arrived. Knowledge and common sense is people best protection.

    • I received large amounts of shots in both arms until they were sore before going to Vietnam as well but those shots were low dose of the disease to get your immune system on track to fight it… These covid jabs are a DNA altering mRNA not the same as all previous vaccines.. I have no problem with the other kind but lots of problem
      with being a lab rat for the pharmaceutical companies…Especially with
      my heart problems..and Pfizer admitting they lied about theirs causing heart attacks/problems..

  2. America is being destroyed, and the CDC, FDA, and Dr. Fauci are doing it. How? Through the agency of medical tyranny.

    The fundamental fact of our Covid crisis is that safe early treatment is being denied to treat Covid-19, yet there’s very good evidence that this treatment would’ve ended the pandemic many months ago, possibly even as early as April, 2020. All of the things we’ve argued about– masks, vaccines, mandates, lockdowns, school closures, etc.– would never have emerged. Jobs and livelihoods would’ve been saved. The hospitals would never have been overwhelmed.

    We can say this with good certainly because this is what the evidence tells us, as summarized by Nebraska AG Douglas Peterson in his decision that treatment for Covid using safe drugs “off-label” is legitimate and allowable. Yet in Texas, even today we hear of a Sheriff’s Deputy whose hospital wouldn’t allow a prescription of the most widely-used anti-Covid drug, despite a court order. Why the vicious resistance? Why the tyranny?

    Dr. Fauci, the CDC, and the FDA deliberately do a song and dance to convince us that these treatments are wrong and harmful despite the flimsiest of evidence to support their perverted, sick views that are leading to the needless deaths of thousands.

    Those who participate in this charade are participating in the destruction of America. Dr. Levine and Governor Scott are participants. This has to stop.

    • The FDA just admitted Pfizer lied to them and their Jab is 57% more apt to cause heart attack or heart problems….What else don’t we know???

  3. “Compliance has been challenging.”
    Those damn independent, free thinking, sovereign human beings, damn them!
    They are thinking for themselves again! Non-compliant with orders to line up at the slaughter house!
    They read, and are questioning the narrative!
    Says the Wizard behind the curtain.

    Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
    Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
    All the King’s horses and all the King’s men
    Couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again.


  4. The nurse/hospital worker shortages will become a real problem when the Jan 4th
    deadline for getting vaxed at the medical center (uvmmc) rolls around… I’ll be one of the statistics if I can’t get a exemption and my NP said she won’t give me one. It’s said to be a requirement of getting medicaid payments which is the same illegal mandate
    as bydone tried having OSHA push… It’s been great working there but I can retire where as a lot that will be leaving can’t.. My best to them…

  5. What we are all seeing, but no official will say, is……the so-called vaccines DO NOT WORK as advertised. Further, as Europe is already discovering,
    the so-called vaccines are themselves injuring and killing many many of those who foolishly took them.

    -Dennis Morrisseau W Pawlet, VT

  6. What does it tell us when educated nurses are refusing the vaccine? When they’d give up their careers, their education, their investments, their incomes, and refuse?

    It tells me that they know something that Dr. Levine doesn’t know and is studiously ignoring in order to stay on the good side of Fauci and federal funding.

    Instead of tolerance and respect for educated viewpoints we’re opting for the jackboot when it comes to healthcare workers. This is so wrong, but sadly too many Vermonters register glee at the jackboot. And then they call those on the right “fascists”!

  7. what about the other cures available and working, in Texas and India?

    If everybody had it, didn’t get sick then what’s the problem? What is the problem spreading a flu, like happens every year, within6 months the entire worlds population spreads the flu, every year.

    This seems to be more press release than interview. Why are countries that are 100% vaxxed experiencing the same issues as VERMONT?

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