Rep. Sibilia: March 23rd Update

Good evening friends and neighbors,

My daughter is spending her self-isolation time learning how to develop a new small business and products. Today we received a gift in the mail for our family dog Chewbarka “Chewie”

Today the governor added a new private and non-profit Work from Home Executive Order. It says to the extent possible everyone should be working from home. It is not possible for all workers to work from home, especially essential workers. The governor also announced a waiver of penalties and interest for businesses paying rooms and meals tax as well as a delay in the filing of personal income taxes until July 15th (see below).

The governor once again fielded questions about second homeowners coming to the state to self isolate and talked about the fact that the virus does not respect borders and that we need to take care of one another. Your concerns are being heard. There is a group of resort town legislators who are speaking regularly about this increased population from our second homeowners and talking with the Governor’s staff. We have also been assured by Vermont Emergency Management that this anticipated increase in population in resort towns is being accounted for with regard to healthcare planning. Know that we have Vermonters who are sick right now at Cheshire Medical Center, Dartmouth Hitchcock in New Hampshire and Albany Medical in New York. We have Vermonters who are caring for their loved ones in other states who became sick before this happened. If they become sick we want them to be cared for. While we can not say enough times that it is completely inappropriate to come here on a tourism trip right now, our second homeowners have a right to use their property. We must remind them of the rural nature of our healthcare, the scarcity of our grocery stores and the need to self isolate. And share our humanity.

My work as your State Representative is largely being done through a daily serious of conference calls while the Legislature is adjourned this week. A truly massive effort has been underway in the past 10 days to stand up technology to allow committees to meet and legislatures to vote while protecting the right of the people to transparency and access in their government.

Tomorrow at last 16 Senators will return to the building to vote on changes to our rules and emergency measures to help Vermonters and assist the Governor’s administration. On Wednesday the House will do the same. The priority is to get help to Vermonters as quickly as possible and protect public health by not having too many legislators in the building at once. I will write more about this in the coming week. You might also want to check what Windham County Senator Becca Balint is posting on Facebook about the daily Joint Rules Committee Meetings.

I hope you all are finding meaningful ways to interact with others as we work through this time.


Bookmark for updates:
Vermont Department of Health 2019 Novel Coronavirus Current Status in Vermont Webpage for updates.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control Coronavirus Disease page
World Health Organization Coronavirus Disease 2019


Increase in violence against women being reported

Image result for domestic violence vermont

If you don’t feel safe at home due to domestic or sexual violence threats, please call VT Domestic Violence Hotline 800-228-7395


IOC member says 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be postponed because of coronavirus pandemic

“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” Pound said in a phone interview. “The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.” read more


Dartmouth Hitchcock COVID-19 Information Update March 23, 2020

Dear Patient,

Because we care deeply for our patients, staff and community, we are sharing the latest information below with you about Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health’s (D-HH’s) preparation and response to COVID-19.

While this is a rapidly changing situation, all of the organizations in our system remain quality places to receive your care. This work is led by our Infectious Disease doctors and researchers who are experts in the field, and well respected throughout our region and the nation. As part of our emergency response plan, our team is in regular communication with the New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont departments of health, as well as with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to help us develop the latest safety guidelines for patients and employees.
We are here for you – and that starts with a reminder to follow these safety guidelines:
• Wash your hands frequently.
• Practice social distancing – keep a six-foot distance between you and others.
• If you are experiencing a cough, fever or shortness of breath, remain at home and call your doctor.
• If you are a person with a serious underlying health condition that can put you at an increased risk – stay home and away from other people.
We also want to let you know of some recent safety changes at our facilities:
New Visitor Policy
To help preserve the ongoing wellness of our patients and staff, and to help prevent the spread of illness, we now have a strict NO VISITOR policy at each of our locations. We understand this decision will be difficult for patients, their families and friends. Visitors will be limited to:
• Partners/spouses of patients in our Birthing Pavilion at DHMC
• Parents or caregivers in the pediatrics departments
• Adult patients with special medical considerations
• Patients receiving end-of-life care

Visitor permission at the discretion of our care teams under specific and predefined circumstances may be granted. Visitor limitations apply to patient rooms, general waiting areas, emergency departments, clinics, Cafeteria and Cafés.


Screening at All Locations
We are screening all patients and accompanying visitors by asking questions about symptoms and recent exposure upon entering any D-HH location. These questions are critical to keeping our facilities safe and to keeping our patients and providers from risk. Patients or accompanying visitors who screen positive for COVID-19 will be given instructions for next steps.

New Hours in Outpatient Clinics

The hours of operation for our outpatient clinics across the D-HH system have been modified.  Please check your location’s website for updated service hours for Primary Care, Specialty clinics, Urgent Appointments and Laboratory Services. Please call your provider’s office if you have any questions.

Delay of Elective Surgical Procedures & Non-Urgent Outpatient Appointments
Elective procedures in all locations have been delayed. We recognize this could be a disappointment or inconvenience, but with a nationwide shortage of critical supplies, hospitals across the country are focusing on maintaining the availability of supplies and equipment during this challenging period.
To minimize exposure and practice social distancing, we are also delaying routine office visits (such as annual wellness exams and non-urgent, follow-up visits). If you are not feeling well, or have questions for your provider regarding your care plan, please call your provider’s office.
We are proactively reaching out to patients whose elective procedures and appointments will be delayed. Any patient not receiving a call about their procedure or appointment should plan to arrive as scheduled. We are committed to providing you with exceptional care, and we will reschedule your elective procedure or appointment as soon as possible.
Please know that we hold your health and wellness as our highest priority. We are here to help you get through these times, and you should not hesitate to reach out to us if we can answer questions.
Thank you for trusting us with your care or the care of your loved ones. For the latest information, visit our website or call our hotline (603-650-1818).

Sincerely,


Joanne M. Conroy, MD
CEO and President
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health


Tax department forgiving penalties and interest for meals and rooms

Vermont Department of Taxes Releases Guidance for Upcoming Vermont Tax Due Dates

MONTPELIER, VT – The Governor has directed the Commissioner of Taxes to exercise his authority to provide relief to Vermont businesses who owe Meals and Rooms Tax or Sales and Use Tax until further notice. Many of our local businesses find themselves unable to meet the March 25 and April 25 filing deadlines due to the implementation of mitigation steps to slow the spread of COVID-19. Taxpayers who are unable to meet the deadlines will not be charged any penalty or interest on these taxes for late submissions.    

“Our local businesses are facing serious economic and logistical challenges and the Administration will do all it can to help them get back on their feet and operational as soon as possible,” said Secretary of Administration Susanne Young. “The waiver of penalties and interest is within the current authority of the Tax Commissioner. Realizing we must be prepared to provide additional relief, the Administration will work with the Legislature in the coming weeks to explore additional stimulus opportunities for our local businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Vermonters are advised as well that income tax filing due dates for the following taxes have been extended from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020:

  • Vermont personal income tax 
  • Vermont Homestead Declaration and Property Tax Claims 
  • Corporate income tax 
  • Fiduciary income tax 

This means taxpayers can file and pay these taxes on or before July 15, 2020 without any penalty or interest. This includes any tax year 2020 estimated payments that were due for these taxes on April 15th, 2020.

Although the filing deadline has moved, Vermonters can file their returns and claims any time before July 15. Anyone expecting a refund is encouraged to do so. In these uncertain times, that refund will make a difference and Vermonters are assured that the Tax Department is open for business and continues to process returns and refunds. For those who self-prepare, the fastest and easiest way to file is electronically with commercial tax preparation software. 

For the most up to date guidance, please visit www.tax.vermont.gov.


Veteran’s COVID-19 Emergency Financial Relief Program

What We Support

The COVID-19 Emergency Financial Relief Program was created to provide financial assistance to all Veterans, Active Duty, Reserves and National Guard who are experiencing a financial setback due to the negative economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Foundation is prioritizing assistance to those who have lost their primary/only income or have an increased financial burden as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant amount will support 1 month of payment up to $1500 in the following areas:

  • Rent
  • Mortgage
  • Auto Loan/Lease
  • Utilities (Electric, Water, Heat)

All checks will be sent directly to the creditor or landlord after the grant is approved. The Foundation can only support one emergency financial request per household.

What You’ll Need

  • DD214 or LES
  • A bill or statement for the requested expense
  • An explanation of how the financial setback is related to the COVID-19 pandemic (for example, loss of job due to quarantine and/or public health policies)

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for this program you must be in one of the following categories:

  • A Veteran that has been honorably discharged
  • A current active-duty service member
  • Currently active in the Reserves
  • Currently active in the National Guard

How to Apply

Click the button below using Google Chrome, Firefox or Safari to create a login and access the application.Apply Now


Changes to Judiciary Emergency Rules; closure of Newfane Court

The Newfane Courthouse has been closed due to a staff shortage. In response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Vermont Supreme Court issued:

  1. On March 13, Administrative Directive 36 regarding the postponement of jury draws.  This Administrative Directive was superseded by Administrative Order 49, described at #2 below.  
  1. Administrative Order 49 https://www.vermontjudiciary.org/sites/default/files/documents/AO%2049_0.pdf

Effective March 17, notwithstanding any rule or timeline inconsistent with Emergency Order 49, all nonemergency Superior Court hearings, whether evidentiary or non-evidentiary, will be postponed.  The Order cites specific exceptions for high-priority cases that must be heard.  All Judicial Bureau hearings are postponed.  The Emergency went into effect on March 17 and will extend until April 15, 2020, unless extended by further order of the Court.

From March 17, 2020, until March 30, 2020, no person will be permitted to enter a courthouse except for the purposes outlined in the Order; and, then, only if they pass screening questions related to the COVID 19 Coronavirus Pandemic.

  1. March 18 Amendment to Administrative Order 49 https://www.vermontjudiciary.org/sites/default/files/documents/AO%2049%20amendment.pdf

This amendment provides that nonemergency matters, although generally suspended, may proceed if the parties participate remotely and are not in the courthouse, subject to the discretion of the Superior Judge and the Court Administrator, and that the Supreme Court may hold oral arguments for summary or full-Court proceedings by telephone or consider the case without oral argument in its discretion.

  1. Administrative Order 49, adopted on Friday afternoon, March 20.   https://www.vermontjudiciary.org/sites/default/files/documents/Covid%20-%20AO%2049%20amendment%203-20-20%20FINAL.pdf

Pursuant to this amendment, litigants sending filings to courts by email can sign documents with the filer’s name typed in and a “/s/,” or an electronic or scanned signature, or other form that satisfies the definition in 9 V.S.A. § 271(9).  This does not apply to documents that must be notarized by statute.

The judicial emergency amounts to “good cause,” which authorizes people to participate in mediation by telephone or video.


Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions, or if you need assistance navigating government services at (802) 384-0233 or lsibilia@leg.state.vt.us 

Kind regards, 

Rep. Laura Sibilia 
Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro, Whitingham

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