I’m so inspired by the acts of kindness and ingenuity we are seeing in our communities and throughout Vermont. Yesterday morning I woke up to a worried momma texting concern about support for her student’s learning needs at home and shortly after saw that two of my constituents who are teachers were offering help for students stuck at home – not just their students, not just students from their schools or towns, but any student who might read their offer of help. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all you are doing to help!
Today I received a call from an elderly independent couple, no internet or computer, who were not up to date on what is happening in their town and our state and country. There is a lot of thinking going on about older folks who are dependent on others for care. Try to reach out to your elderly family, friends and neighbors on the phone and see how they are doing.
I’m home and going back and forth between the Legislature’s calls and my year work.
And learning how to do ZOOM meetings! It’s (so far) free videoconferencing those who have enough bandwidth with a modest charge for a professional account and the ability to add phone callers. (hello all my hard working community serving school and selectboards – this could be your tool! Let me know if you need help!)
In addition to helping if you can, if you are facing a challenge meeting your basic needs right now, I’m curious about things you are learning how to do in response to this current situation.
COVID-19 Vermont Utility Response
On March 18, 2020, the Public Utility Commission ordered a temporary moratorium on involuntary disconnections of natural gas, electric and telecommunications service until April 30, 2020. This order formally acknowledges the work previously done by Vermont’s utilities to voluntarily suspend disconnections in response to the COVID-19 emergency and their coordination with the Vermont Department of Public Service.
Secretary of State Jim Condos Announces COVID-19 Emergency Measures for Healthcare Workers and Pharmacies
Montpelier, VT – Today Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos announced measures taken by the Office of Professional Regulation (OPR) to address healthcare workforce shortages during the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic, and to provide emergency guidance to pharmacies.
To address a potential shortage of healthcare workers in Vermont, following the Governor’s issuance of a declared State of Emergency, OPR is issuing temporary licenses to healthcare workers and pharmacies.
“My office is dedicated to creating the pathways to licensure necessary to ensure Vermont medical facilities have access to the qualified healthcare staff needed to serve Vermonters during this global pandemic,” said Secretary Condos.
The Vermont Secretary of State’s Office of Professional Regulation has the authority to issue temporary licenses in a declared state of emergency under 3 V.S.A. §129(a)(10):
§ 129. Powers of boards; discipline process
(a) In addition to any other provisions of law, a board may exercise the following powers:
[…](10) Issue temporary licenses during a declared state of emergency. The person to be issued a temporary license must be currently licensed, in good standing, and not subject to disciplinary proceedings in any other jurisdiction. The temporary license shall authorize the holder to practice in Vermont until the termination of the declared state of emergency or 90 days, whichever occurs first, as long as the licensee remains in good standing. Fees shall be waived when a license is required to provide services under this subdivision.
The Office of Professional Regulation is a division of the Secretary of State’s office.
“We’re working hard to confront the challenges faced by many of our regulated professionals, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said OPR Director Lauren Hibbert. “I’m grateful for the efforts of our hardworking healthcare professionals to keep Vermonters healthy and safe. I want to assure Vermonters that my office will take every opportunity to do our part ensuring that healthcare workers can get licensed to confront this growing health crisis.”
Secretary Condos also announced the creation of emergency guidance by OPR and the Vermont Board of Pharmacy, which clarifies OPR and Board of Pharmacy policies and interpretations, and provides recommendations to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
Information, and instructions for obtaining a temporary license, can be found on the Secretary of State’s website.
Tax Department Commissioner Craig Bolio
The Vermont Department of Taxes currently remains open for business. We are carefully monitoring the evolving situation and following guidance from the Vermont Department of Health. We are taking steps such as an increase in remote work and encouraging electronic communication to maintain the safety of our employees while still fulfilling our mission to Vermonters.– Commissioner Craig Bolio updated tax info can be found here
Federal IRS guidance pending
Department of Labor adds online form
Montpelier – In an effort to facilitate increased applications to its Unemployment Insurance Claims Center, the Vermont Department of Labor has announced the creation of an electronic form and staffing increases to assist those individuals impacted as a result of COVID-19.
The electronic form, which was created in conjunction with the Agency of Digital Services, allows those individuals who are looking to establish an initial claim with the Department to do so electronically.
In addition to the electronic form, the Department has tripled the overall number of staff at its Unemployment Insurance Claims Center and has added a supplementary number for the intake of initial claims. An additional phone number has also been established for the establishing of initial claims. Staff from the Department’s regional offices across the state will be answering these calls and assisting claimants in filling out the electronic form. This supplementary line is in addition to the full-service Claims Center line.
As the Department prioritizes its response to the significant number of claims, certain regional offices will be closed to the public, while others will be providing services by appointment, as well as virtually. To make an appointment, individuals may contact their local Career Resource Center.
For individuals looking for more information on how they may be impacted, the Department encourages them to visit labor.vermont.gov/. Further updates and information will be provided as they become available.
If an individual is looking to establish an initial claim, they can contact the Department of Labor in the following ways:
- Full-Service Filing of Claims: 1-877-214-3330 (individuals should try this line first)
- Supplemental Initial Claim Intake: 1-888-807-7072
- Electronic Form for Initial Intake: https://appengine.egov.com/apps/vt/dol/unemploymentinsuranceclaim
- Department of Labor: labor.vermont.gov
BDCC Business Call COVID-19 Resiliency
March 20 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm Join us for this week’s Resiliency Webinar! Please send questions in advance by emailing email@example.com Getting started with Zoom: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/categories/200101697 Zoom Meeting: https://us04web.zoom.us/j/781064798 Meeting ID: 781-064-798 Phone: 888 475 4499 US Toll-free One tap mobile: +19294362866,,781064798# Find out more »
Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions, or if you need assistance navigating government services at (802) 384-0233 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Laura Sibilia
Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro, Whitingham