By Guy Page
There are no reported cases of any Covid-19 variants in Vermont, Health Commissioner Mark Levine said at today’s press conference.
That’s the good news. However, a variant in California may be fueling the current Los Angeles epidemic, he said. Also, relatively unpublicized variants in Brazil and South Africa may not respond to the current vaccine, he said.
“There are questions about the efficacy of vaccine, with those two countries [Brazil and South Africa],” Levine said. These variants pose no immediate threats to the continental U.S., he said.
Eastern European cybercrooks fraudulently apply for Vermont unemployment benefits — In response to a question by County Courier editor Greg Lamoureux, state unemployment official Michael Harrington said crooks from outside the United States are impersonating Vermonters and applying for unemployment benefits.
The crooks probably acquired the internet identities of these Vermonters during a massive data breach, such as the 2017 Carfax event. They may have been sitting on that information for several years, waiting for an opportune time when state officials are facing a huge volume of applications — such as the recent pandemic-related unemployment applications.
Vermonters whose identities have been stolen will not be held liable for returning stolen benefits, or in any other way, Harrington said.
Sen. Baruth’s gun carrying ban “not a priority” for Scott
Asked about S.30, the bill prohibiting carrying firearms in several public places, Gov. Phil Scott said “it’s not a priority from my perspective. … We’ll listen and see where it goes. There will be plenty of opportunities to weigh in. And I would advocate that people do weigh in.”
No numbers yet on cost of State House police patrols
Asked by Vermont Daily about the cost of the police patrols at the Vermont State House added last week in response to a potential armed rally of Trump supporters, Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling said the pay period hasn’t ended and the information is not available yet.
Vermont senior facility staff less likely to be vaccinated than residents, hospital staff
The vaccination acceptance rate for staff of Vermont’s senior care facilities is about 60%, well below the rate for senior care residents (92%) and hospital staff (65-92%) depending on the hospital.
Levine called the resident acceptance rate “astounding.” Even the lower number for staff is better than in other states, where it’s as low as 30%. That may be due to a high percentage of staff from “ethnically diverse, disenfranchised” communities who have “suffered historial injustice” and therefore “may not have high trust in govermntent programs.” A Pew Trust study shows that despite being more likely to know someone who has died of Covid, less than half of black Americans say they are likely to be vaccinated — far lower than white, hispanic and Asian Americans.
Read more of Guy Page’s reports. Vermont Daily is sponsored by True North Media.