By Guy Page
The Vermont Department of Health can’t say when vaccinated Vermonters will be immune from Covid-19 and no longer a threat to transmit the disease to others.
Vermonters eager to move beyond masks and social distancing are inquiring how soon after vaccination they can dispense with these measures. Vermont Daily asked Health Commissioner Mark Levine at today’s press conference: “When is a reasonable time frame in which we will know whether or not two-dose recipients are immune and cannot transmit?
“As quickly as scientific research lets us know,” Levine said. “We have a glimmer but we don’t have the whole picture yet.” Vaccine manufacturer Pfizer is studying this question. “I can’t actually give you the timeline because I don’t know how far along they are,” he said.
The Vermont Legislative Climate Solutions Caucus will convene at noon Thursday, Jan. 21 to welcome new members and discuss legislative priorities, organizers Sen. Chris Pearson (P/D-Chittenden) and Rep. Sarah Copeland-Hanzas (D-Bradford) said. The meeting will be live-streamed. Information about the caucus is available on its website.
Last year the caucus was a driving force behind the Global Warming Solutions Act. The 23-member Climate Council established by the GWSA has met three times. At its last meeting, Vermont Executive Director of Racial Equity Xusana Davis said the GWSA’s mandated carbon emission deadlines are a “tool of white supremacy” and urged the council to extend the deadlines. The Climate Council is also the target of a bill aimed at preventing conflicts of interest.
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Governor Phil Scott has signed H.48, authorizing alternative procedures for 2021 annual municipal meetings in response to COVID-19. He strongly urged municipalities to conduct local elections by mail.
“Although Vermonters value traditions like town meetings and voting in person, I strongly urge local officials to take advantage of the flexibility this law affords by mailing each registered voter a ballot for upcoming elections,” Scott said in a statement. “Not only would it accomplish the primary objective of helping keep our friends, families, and neighbors safe, but it will also increase access to the democratic process, ensuring Vermonters don’t need to choose between their right to vote and risking attending a town meeting gathering during a pandemic.”
D.C. bus ride
The Vermont press won’t let DC bus story die. At today’s press conference, Andrea Suozzo of Seven Days asked Levine if any Covid-19 cases have been associated with the chartered bus ride of 51 Trump supporters to the January 6 D.C. rally. “I have not been made aware of any cases,” he said. “We have been looking for that. To my knowledge there have not been any cases.”
Has the Health Department done any contact tracing?, Suozzo pressed. “The only way we would be in contact is if we had a case. We have not done contact tracing because we have no reported case,” Levine said.
Undeterred, Suozzi asked if the bus company faces disciplinary action for booking over-capacity under Vermont Covid guidelines. “It turned out to be a bus company that does business in New York,” she was told. The company “was not aware of the restrictions in Vermont…..they were quite apologetic.”
The next reporter in the queue, Peter Hirschfeld of VPR, wouldn’t let the story go. “Commissioner while you’re still there, What was the name of that bus company?” In response he heard: “that’s a real head scratcher, I’ll have to get back to you on that.” Stay tuned!
Read more of Guy Page’s reports. Vermont Daily is sponsored by True North Media.