Scott defends continued restrictions despite low COVID death, hospitalization rates

Michael Bielawski/TNR

DUG IN: Gov. Phil Scott on Tuesday defended having mask requirements and strong restrictions on businesses despite Vermont having zero COVID deaths in more than a month.

Despite having some of the lowest hospitalization and death rates for COVID-19 in the nation, Vermont continues to maintain substantial restrictions on businesses and services, along with a new mandate to wear a mask in all public places starting Saturday.

As of Monday, Vermont has one hospitalization for COVID-19 and hasn’t had a COVID-related death in more than a month. Of the 56 total deaths recorded in the state since the start of the pandemic, only four were under the age of 60.

At his press conference Tuesday morning, Gov. Phil Scott nevertheless defended his continuation of the state of emergency and tight restrictions on Vermonters.

“Arizona, California, Texas, Florida, Jersey, New York, the rest of the New England states, the Midwest — I mean that could be Vermont,” he said. “We’re very fortunate to be in the position that we are today because of the approach that we’ve taken, because it could have ended up much differently.

“As I’ve said many times, two hours from here in Boston they had almost 9,000 deaths, they had 32,000 deaths in New York City in particular, which is only a five-hour drive, so we’re not immune to that. But the approach we took I think has led us to where we are today. I don’t want to lose any ground.”

The governor announced Tuesday that school districts will open on Sept. 8. According to Scott’s executive order, individual districts will decide whether to offer remote or in-person instruction.

“I want to open the schools for in-person instruction and to do that we’re going to have to take steps and measures to keep us moving in the right direction, which I think has worked for us.”

COVID reporting has come under increased criticism in recent weeks. A report by the Washington Post notes not all states are counting COVID-19 cases in the same manner. Some states have adopted Centers for Disease Control and Prevention policy to include non-lab-test-confirmed cases into the COVID-19 case counts.

Vermont Health Commissioner Mark Levine said all coronavirus cases that get reported in Vermont are PCR (polymerise chain reaction) confirmed lab cases.

“Early on there was some confusion because the CDC had lumped together the PCR test, which is the one done through the nose, and serology antibody testing, which is done through the blood. We had a very tiny percentage of those lumped in with our other cases,” Levine said. “Those have been clearly separated out now and we’re only reporting the PCR confirmed active cases, not serology. That was a point of confusion in a number of states across the country.”

He added that recent confusion counting cases in Manchester and surrounding regions had to do with counting antigen tests and different tests other than the PCR test. Between July 10 and July 20, more than 60 people tested positive for coronavirus based on rapid antigen testing. Subsequent PCR tests found that only two people had the virus. Vermont, Levine said, is requiring that the antigen test be confirmed with the PCR test.

CDC recommended criteria for counting cases include a non-lab-test-confirmed scenario in which the patient has at least one symptom, including cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. Another non-lab-tested category for counting COVID is if the patient has been in contact with “a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 disease.” The guidelines include several scenarios under “epidemiologic linkage” and “clinical criteria” that involve a patient counted as COVID-19 positive without a lab-test confirmation.

Counting methods have created confusion in other states as well as Vermont. In Texas, the Collin County epidemiology department’s Aisha Souri explained in late May that the state’s revised definition for COVID-19 probable cases allows for those labeled as “probable” to be considered “confirmed.”

On the issue of opening schools in Vermont, Scott continued to warn of the dangers of COVID-19.

“We recognize how unpredictable this pandemic is and the anxiety it can and has caused, so our planning includes remote learning and hybrid models. … Whether it’s going back to work in manufacturing facilities, construction jobs, retail, and so forth, the same types of basic protection is needed. Make sure you wear your mask, stay separated from others when possible. If you are sick stay home.”

Dr. Rebecca Bell, a pediatric critical care physician at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital, said during the press conference that people should stay focused on how local leaders are managing the pandemic.

“I would ask Vermonters to take their gaze off the national scene and instead look towards our local leaders who know our communities best, and trust that they will provide the best guidance and most importantly adapt the guidance in response to evolving evidence,” she said.

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

Image courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR

26 thoughts on “Scott defends continued restrictions despite low COVID death, hospitalization rates

  1. Heck-of-a-job Brownie much? We are facing a ‘crisis’ of competence and lawlessness – not the Scamdemic. However in either case – Chairman Phil is a spectacular fail extraordinaire.

    Numbers were always low – the only place they were high-er was in Chittenden County elderly-care facilities primarily from mismanagement. Pre and post mask, pre and post house arrest – *nothing changed* period. A negative cannot be proven so put away the champagne bottles. Now that numbers are falling increased testing which yields myriad false positives are driving numbers up. soo – now’s the time to mandate ‘forced masking’ – after this great success??? Um ok lol.

    Yeah – looks pretty good or perhaps not so bad until the victims of Benedict Scotts ruination of are state are tallied. Anyone dismissing by ignoring the least of these need to take a good long look in the mirror.

    Following the do-nothing politician pro-forma strategy dutifully followed by officials who are *not* leaders in any sense of the word but are in fact complete and utter failures – sowed an uncharted course to the wind destroying the prosperity of business owners by picking winners and losers based upon campaign contributions. Now reaping the whirlwind of legislative, executive and voting overreach which has weakened the standing of who we are as a people.

    Allowing the hospitalized to die – mostly the Greatest Generation, by restricting proven lifesaving treatments – state prosperity well into the future, our children’s education, well being and security. Also destroying progress made in opiate addiction by sentencing those in recovery to failure, placing vulnearble spouses – mostly female – and children in harms way by keeping them in abuse environment knowing it’s the faceless voiceless vulnerable who bear the brunt – for starters.

    Allowing ‘the experts’ to run the show amounts to blameshifting. If it fails all of above throw up hands claiming they were following ‘best practices’ and guidelines recommended – heroes bc ‘we tried’. If they succeed – claim it was due to expertise of above. Under either scenario they win while We The People lose.

  2. Has anyone noticed that Mao Scott’s enhanced restrictions come just in time for the primary? Not a coincidence.

  3. zero deaths since May with a Horrific total of 56 dead before seems like

    a reasonable excuse for tighter controls.. well at least for the loonies on the

    left that Rino Scott likes to cave to..

  4. Of course it’s logical to implement tighter measures to combat a diminishing threat. Following that slope of reasoning, once cases have zeroed out statewide we’ll be made to wear masks in our own homes as well.

    There is one person hospitalized for this in the entire state. The death count of 56, still below an average flu year, hasn’t budged in weeks. (And incidentally, in response to a query I made, the Health Department’s Public Inquiries Team confirmed that Covid-19 was not the direct underlying cause of death for every fatality–it was for most but not all.) If we can’t resume “normal” under current conditions, then, well, the Governor might as well declare the State of Emergency permanent.

    But masks are only the appetizer for what’s coming. Mandatory vaccinations, anyone?

  5. Will all the moronsxwho question the Governor’s mask policy WAKE UP and smell the roses????? Did it ever occur to your feeble minds that the relatively low rate of infection in Vermont is a direct result of the folks behaving themselves and WEARING MASKS????? I for applaud the governor for taking the lead. Have any of you heard of a fellow named Dr. Fauci??? Dare say he knows just a little bit more about the spread of Covid-19 than the complainers do.

    • It seems pretty much a given that at the point a country/region hits the 20%-25% infection rate the virus spread levels off then starts to decline. This happned on the Princess cruse ship, the naval vessel, and you can extrapolate it to NYC. Regardless of masks or no mask. An argument that masks will slow things down is certainly valid but that’s about it.

    • I said it before, Mike: There’s no way to prove your claim causatively. In fact, there is good evidence to suggest that declines in infections were already underway in areas where masks were mandated, due to the virus weakening as it moves through the population.

      As for the good doctor, he knows a lot more–but not in the way that you mean. You can start with his blatant disregard for President Obama’s moratorium on viral gain-of-function studies (researching how to make viruses more dangerous), when Fauci backed a lab in Wuhan to continue what had been banned in America:

      • See Jeff, that’s the way the progressives and the uber left start off any discussion. They start their “argument” by calling you a “moron” to make themselves feel superior. The rest is pretty much just white noise after that. For those of that are old enough, that would be turning the TV dial to a UHF channel that isn’t broadcasting.


    • Scott’s mandatory mask mandate begins August 1 2020, two days in the future.
      It seems Vermont’s feeble minded populace has managed to limp along without this mandate.
      But, on the positive side- Vermont no longer needs an elaborate mail-in voting scheme- with the required masks, we can vote in person…right?

    • It’s more evident that the “morons” are the ones who dismiss the contradictory data and information that comes from verifiable sources who aren’t bureaucrats. Face it, you refuse to even accept that masks have been proven to not stop the particles of the size of the Wuhan flu and also are potentially harmful to nearly all users. Additionally, you won’t accept the damage already done because of the nationwide restrictions, much of it irreversible. Check out the increased suicide rates. Furthermore, you show an abhorrent willingness to deprive citizens of their individual rights as guaranteed by the Constitutions.

    • As Benedict Scott sockpuppet who refuses to provide sources or links to the unending load of bs dumped whenever ‘Phil Scott, martial law and mask’ are in same story you do not deserve answers or even attention to your rhetorical queries designed only to keep the Scott campaign payments rolling in – no wonder you don’t care about anyone else or if you have to stay home all day – clearly pays well.

  6. Scott is truly the Democrat’s Republican. He is contributing to the destruction of America and is aiding and abetting the overthrow of the government.

  7. A test of a leader is how they handle an unexpected crisis. As one who has served as a Selectboard Chair and in many other leadership roles in my town, I have over the years realized it is easy to be overly critical, (and I have been guilty of that myself in my younger days), when you do not have responsibility on your shoulders.
    Governor Scott has had to navigate an extremely difficult course on this one without a chart or gps. Judging by the results, and in comparison with others, he has done extremely well to date. His weekly press briefings are a model that could and frankly should be used by others. He and Dr. Levine provide clear answers and others in the administration are on hand to lend their expertise when needed. Everyone is treated with respect and if they do not know the answer they admit it and say they will find it. There is no spin or trying to blame others. I do not agree with Governor Scott on all issues, but am extremely grateful that he is leading our state at this time. Competence, especially in times of crisis, matters.

    • It was so difficult for him to claim that all of our God-given rights are privileges granted by government? Of course you applaud him. As someone who has been active in government, you slaver to acquire the power Scott was daring enough to steal from the people.

  8. To Vermont’s credit and the Governor, we may be the only state claiming deaths correctly. Which is why we have so few.

    • I have a family members in VT currently, and trying to actually get a test is like pulling teeth. My family member tried to have a test done at a hospital in the NE part of the state and couldn’t even make an appointment without a doctors note. Then results were 4-6 days out. In my home state I can go to a walk in clinic pay my $15 copay and have results in less then a half hour. No doctor referral (unlike Vermont) required. If VT weren’t as rural as it is, much like other NE states it would be in deep do do.

  9. The totalitarian spineless liar thinks that if he pushes the Scamdemic he will get elected by Vermonts leftist’s,I’ve already cast my primary ballot and it sure as well wasn’t for Benedict “the liar” Scott

  10. We understand the initial alarm when the epidemic began but now we are faced with another alarm – that one person, with the acquiescence of the state legislature, can continue to wield so much power. Covid-1984!

  11. Rino Scott, just following the liberals doom & gloom agenda, keep every one
    in panic mode and blame Trump ………… Idiots.

    I don’t need to have anyone mandating that I wear a mask, I can think for myself
    show me the data and I’ll believe, so far smoke & mirrors !!!

    The CCP should be the only one to blame, and we need to hold them accountable !!

  12. Why don’t people go look into the states data at their sites and dig in to get the real truth about these deaths. Go see the specifics, the details. Most all deaths everywhere are in nursing homes. Not a single person under age 21 in Massachusetts has died of this.
    The readers have absolutely got to go and do their own digging and stop believing these scare tactics that these people are using on us to manipulate the population. This is becoming a psy-op at this point.
    People are NOT in huge numbers sick and in the hospital, they are NOT Dying of this.
    Even Elderly people don’t necessarily die from it.
    This has almost a 100% recovery rate.
    A Postive Test does not even necessarily mean you’ll even get sick.

    Take a look at what came up today in NH at where we openly tell a whole lot of real Truth.

    “Whats the Final Word on the Fake Vermont Covid19 Spike that never was..”

    “Manchester Vermont thought it had become a Covid19 Hot Spot. The areas went into crisis mode, but the problem was not a Coronavirus Outbreak; it was a Crappy CDC Test Outbreak.
    By the time the dust settled, nearly all the positive tests were negative.
    This is a bigger problem than I think people realize…………”

    Also note: there are now MANY big and serious Lawsuits getting going in Massachusetts about these shutdowns. Last night I heard an interview on Howie Carr from a man in Boston that owns several restaurants down in Boston and he said they are all joining together and suing the state government. He said that what the government has done has taken their business from them with no compensation.
    How is Vermont poised to deal with Lawsuits like this?

    People like Rush and Howie Carr are saying now that these Emergency Powers that all these governors are acting under, none of this is even Legal. These powers were meant to be given to them to deal with an actual foreign invasion- not a flu with a 98.8% Recovery Rate that seems to kill people largely in Nursing Homes.

    Now I’d like to ask you about Property Owners Rights in Vermont.
    What if YOU own your own property that your business is on and you don’t care whether or not people wear a mask..maybe they are all outside standing in line 6 feet apart to order ice cream at a window and you consider that safe.. being outside.
    Has the state just strippped all these Rights from the Property Owners?

    I know a whole lot about Vermont, and I can tell you exactly how this woulda been handled Historically in the great state of Vermont.
    All you men had better come out of the barns and tend to this mess.

  13. Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center has more than 12,000 permanent full- and part-time employees at locations in New Hampshire and Vermont.


    THIS FROM A DHMC BOARD MEMBER, a friend of mine.

    The 600,000 Vermonters over the age of TWO are wearing masks FOR WHAT REASON?

    People at the top issuing edicts to wear masks are stark-raving nuts.
    They are afraid of their own shadow, because they have no common sense.
    Many of them have sucked on the secure government tit for decades; they have become the equivalent of docile sheep.

    • I was at the hospital over there myself recently.
      The doctor told me about 10 days ago that they were operating now at 75% capacity and would be moving to 100% capacity the following week- this woulda been last week they moved onto 100%.
      So the increased activity that people might be seeing at hospitals is because they are moving back to normal levels of seeing patients.
      I also heard on my radio here that they are allowing people in the hospital to have One “Support Person” so again, more people are around there now.
      This is criminal !!
      I also know from the doctor that I know, that at the “Height” of this, this doctor had 3 patients that were not in life threatening conditions.

      We’ve been flat out Lied Too repeatedly.

        • There’s certainly no problems with your writing…. course never to see the light of day at Digger…they’re still searching for the truth…hey guys it’s over here in the comment section of True North Reports…well done

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