By Guy Page
Asked about a CDC report saying only 6 percent of Covid-19 fatalities nationwide died solely from the disease, Health Commissioner Mark Levine at a press conference Tuesday vehemently decried the “armchair epidemiologists and physicians” who publicly impugn without understanding Covid-19 death statistics and public health measures.
The report, “Provisional Death Counts for Coronavirus,” states “the types of health conditions and contributing causes mentioned in conjunction with deaths involving coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). For 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned. For deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19, on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death.”
Speaking generally to these critics, whom he referred to as “armchair epidemiologists and physicians, Levine told reporter Steve Merrill of NEK-TV that “You do need to understand medicine.”
PRESS PLAY TO WATCH LEVINE RESPOND
“Six percent [of death certificates] will say Covid was the only thing that killed the person,” Levine continued. “They were a healthy person otherwise. The other 94% had a vairiety of other things on their death certificates” – such as kidney and heart disease and diabetes, he said.
“Covid tipped them over. It was overwhelming and their system couldn’t handle it. They died because Covid was on the planet,” Levine said. “Because I feel so strongly, I feel we should take a few moments of silence in honor [of the victims].”
Merrill paused for a moment. “Umm … sure,” he said. “Thank you,” Levine retorted.
Scott to issue executive order on policing – mum on details, for now
Also at the press conference, Gov. Phil Scott announced he has prepared an executive order, to be released soon, regarding policing in this era of public unrest. He didn’t offer specific details, except to say that he looks forward to reviewing the Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT) recommendations on the subject.
The April 27 VLCT “Perspectives on Police Reform” urges tighter police hiring and training practices, more local participation and involvement in hiring, more reporting and data sharing, and holding officers accountable. However it would preserve the “qualified immunity” protecting police officers from citizen lawsuits. The Vermont Legislature is considering police reform legislation, and influential advocacy groups such as the ACLU-VT and VPIRG are arguing for removing immunity.
Home schooling applications to top 4,000 – but no extra help expected for first-timers
Applications for homeschooling children this year will probably top 4,000 – twice the normal figure, Agency of Education Secretary Daniel French told Vermont Daily at the press conference today.
However, Secretary French declined to offer any hope or support for financial support for homeschooling parents, including first-timers who are removing children from school due to pandemic-related health, staffing, and daily scheduling concerns. When Vermont Daily asked if his agency could offer IT, training or curriculum assistance, he said, “we wouldn’t necessarily have the authority or own ability to act without the Legislature.” And it’s unlikely the Legislature will move in that direction this year, he said.
The Agency of Education and the Vermont Superintendents Association are urging the Legislature to allow schools with declining enrollment to be funded based on last year’s enrollment.
Opioid overdoses up 50% in 2020 – Levine explains why
According to a VT Digger report, overdoses in the first six months of 2020 totaled 72, compared to 48 in 2019. Commissioner Levine was asked to comment. “It’s true around the country,” he said. “It’s related to the pandemic.” More people are isolated at home. Fewer people are present to witness injections and seek help. Addicts have heightened anxiety and depression. Levine noted that the federal government has released more drug abuse treatment funding, and some has come to the Vermont Dept. of Health, he said.
Read more of Guy Page’s reports. Vermont Daily is sponsored by True North Media.