Two separate venues in Montpelier and Williston are set to host the Vermont COVID Summit, a collection of expert doctors, lawyers and a clergy member who will speak on the state of COVID-19 and coronavirus-related mandates.
“It’s about COVID and about vaccines, and generally about the current base of scientific knowledge, and then essentially the public dystopia,” Dr. Christopher Casscells, a physician from Newark, Del., told True North on Thursday.
“There is a lot of widespread fear and anxiety that has been precipitated by very poor management of the COVID-19 breakout,” he said.
The event has two parts. “Conversations with Frontline Doctors” is set for 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Friday, Jan. 14 at Capitol Plaza Hotel in Montpelier.
The second part, the “Global COVID Summit,” will take place 8:30 a.m.- 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 15 at Ignite Church in Williston.
One topic of interest will be what comes next in managing the global pandemic.
According to Casscells, the Omicron variant raging across the nation, being less lethal than prior variants, could bring an end to COVID hysteria.
“But what will be left behind is a lot of fear and anxiety, so we have to refocus our medical attention towards the fallout from the problem as opposed to the virus itself,” he said.
Julia Haller, one of the attorneys who will speak this weekend, formerly served as a senior policy advisor to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and also the Department of Homeland Security. More recently she has worked on a lawsuit over COVID vaccine mandates in the U.S. military.
“The premise of that case was that you can’t force an emergency-authorized vaccine,” she said, adding that the COVID death rate among military personnel doesn’t warrant emergency status.
“We put in what the rate was for the military, which is a healthier population, a younger population — their death rate was like less than 1 percent,” Haller said.
One problem Haller sees with the policy response to the pandemic is that it’s unclear what constitutes a medical emergency. In addition, the authority for renewing a state of national emergency falls to just one individual.
“HHS [Health and Human Services] issues that. That’s binding back in 2020. That’s just been extended by the secretary — technically, the secretary has that discretion,” she said. “And the challenge is, there really is no emergency situation. We argued that in the Florida case. When it came to the military, [the death rate] is so minuscule — it’s less than with the flu.”
Rev. Christopher Thoma, who serves as senior pastor of Our Savior Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hartland, Michigan, also is a featured speaker at the summit. Thoma told True North that religious communities have a responsibility to engage members on issues of social and political issues.
“I will be speaking on having pastors understand their role in relation to the government and civil authorities, and engaging with them,” he said. “There’s a misconception that pastors are not supposed to be involved in the public square.”
“One thing I often say is, if a pastor is not paying attention to the culture and engaging with it, and teaching the people to engage, then that is only working part-time,” Thoma said.
Other notable speakers will include Dr. Karladine Graves, of Kansas City, a board-certified family medicine practitioner who has been outspoken on “exposing the medical tyranny that CDC, Fauci, and Bill Gates have been forcing onto the American people,” according to a bio of the event.
For more information on speakers and topics, visit the VT Grassroots website.