Good evening all.
This week I have included two electoral reform pieces of legislation that have been introduced. A bill requiring civics education for all Vermont students and I have also reintroduced legislation that would require ranked choice voting to be used in primaries and in the election of our U.S. Senators and Representative. Ranked choice voting is in place in a number of states and cities across America and allows voters to rank candidates by preference, meaning they can submit ballots that list not only their first-choice candidate for a position, but also their second, third and so on.
Ranked-choice voting helps to ensure candidates with majority support are elected and reduces negative campaigning.
In this update I’ve included the latest information on the 1099 data breach and about a new age band opening up for vaccinations this Tuesday. The CDC has issued new quarantine guidance based on those who have been vaccinated. Stay warm out there!
Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine – Tuesday opens up to 70 years old
MAKE AN APPOINTMENT WITH:
People age 75 and older can make appointments now.
Starting Tuesday, February 16, people 70 years and older can make appointments.
There are enough appointments for everyone who is eligible. Appointments are required. Clinics cannot accept walk-ins.
To make an appointment online with the Health Department:
- Create an account(link is external) (anyone can do this anytime!)
You may already have an account if you were tested for COVID-19 at a Health Department site.
- Make an appointment(link is external) when your age group is eligible to get the vaccine.
Can’t make an appointment online or need help with an online appointment? Contact our call center at 855-722-7878.
- To speak with someone in a language other than English, call this number, and then press 1.
- We can help with appointments with the Health Department or Kinney Drugs.
Call Center Hours:
Monday – Friday, 8:15 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
New Quarantine Protocols
Vermont will follow new CDC guidance for vaccinated people exposed to someone with COVID-19 Health Commissioner Mark Levine said at Friday’s press conference that Vermont will follow CDC’s new guidance for people who have been fully vaccinated and are exposed to someone with COVID-19.
The CDC says these people do not need to quarantine, as long as they:
- Are fully vaccinated (had two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and two weeks have
- Are within 3 months of receiving the second dose of the vaccine
- Have not had any COVID-19 symptoms since the exposure.
“This means that if you fit these criteria – meaning first and foremost that you have been vaccinated – and you come into contact with a COVID-positive person, you no longer need to quarantine,” Dr. Levine said. “There is an exception, however, for vaccinated inpatients and residents in healthcare settings — they still need to quarantine.”
Vermont is not yet making any changes to travel-related quarantine for fully vaccinated people.
From the CDC:
Public health recommendations for vaccinated persons
While mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have demonstrated high efficacy at preventing severe and symptomatic COVID-19, there is currently limited information on how much the vaccines might reduce transmission and how long protection lasts. In addition, the efficacy of the vaccines against emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants is not known. At this time, vaccinated persons should continue to follow current guidance to protect themselves and others, including wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet away from others, avoiding crowds, avoiding poorly ventilated spaces, covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands often, following CDC travel guidance, and following any applicable workplace or school guidance, including guidance related to personal protective equipment use or SARS-CoV-2 testing.
However, vaccinated persons with an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they meet all of the following criteria†:
- Are fully vaccinated (i.e., ≥2 weeks following receipt of the second dose in a 2-dose series, or ≥2 weeks following receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine)
- Are within 3 months following receipt of the last dose in the series
- Have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure
Persons who do not meet all 3 of the above criteria should continue to follow current quarantine guidance after exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
Although the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission from vaccinated persons to others is still uncertain, vaccination has been demonstrated to prevent symptomatic COVID-19; symptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission is thought to have a greater role in transmission than purely asymptomatic transmission. Additionally, individual and societal benefits of avoiding unnecessary quarantine may outweigh the potential but unknown risk of transmission, and facilitate the direction of public health resources to persons at highest risk for transmitting SARS-CoV-2 to others. This recommendation to waive quarantine for people with vaccine-derived immunity aligns with quarantine recommendations for those with natural immunity, which eases implementation.
Fully vaccinated persons who do not quarantine should still watch for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days following an exposure. If they experience symptoms, they should be clinically evaluated for COVID-19, including SARS-CoV-2 testing, if indicated. In addition, vaccinated persons should continue to follow current guidance to protect themselves and others, including all other SARS-CoV-2 testing recommendations and requirements, and state, territorial, tribal, and local travel recommendations or requirements.
Lab Results Indicate Likely Presence of COVID-19 Variant in the State
Tests of Burlington wastewater point to virus strain known as the “UK variant”
Burlington, VT – The City of Burlington’s testing of wastewater has detected the presence of two COVID-19 virus mutations that are associated with the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the United Kingdom. Detection of these two mutations is a strong indicator that the B.1.1.7 variant is present in the community.
Wastewater sampling is a pooled sample of many different community members, and only looks for the presence of two specific mutations, so this should not be considered definitive finding of that variant, but it does indicate the variant is most likely present in Vermont. The Health Department will work to confirm the presence of the variant through genetic sequencing of individual samples from COVID-19 positive individuals.
Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. Many emerge and disappear, but others can persist and even become the predominant strain. Some experts anticipate the more easily transmissible B.1.1.7 variant will become widespread throughout the country. According to the CDC, studies so far show the current vaccines are largely effective against this variant. Nonetheless, health experts warn the faster spreading variants can lead to more cases of COVID-19, as well as increased hospitalizations and deaths.
“This is a new stage of the pandemic here in Vermont,” said Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD. “It is not, however, surprising. We expected that variants could be circulating in Vermont, and now that looks to be the case.” As of Monday, the B.1.1.7 variant has been reported in 34 states, including Connecticut, Massachusetts and in upstate New York.
Burlington’s wastewater testing program is an important surveillance tool that provides timely public health information by broadly monitoring for the presence of these specific mutations occurring in SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The City’s testing is performed by GT Molecular of Fort Collins, Colorado.
GMP helps you save on heat pumps!
Save up to $1,000 on qualified heat pumps (includes extra rebates for low and moderate income customers!). Reduce your carbon footprint with hyper-efficient heating and cooling.
Start with a $400 rebate for each heat pump condenser (outside unit) you buy for your home or business. Then, increase your savings with extra rebates for low and moderate income customers.
- Moderate income rebate $300 = $700 savings
- Low income rebate $600 = $1,000 savings
How to get your rebate.
- Fill out this Heat Pump Rebate Form.
- Mail it to the team at the Energy Innovation Center.
- You’ll need your proof of purchase, the serial numbers of the equipment purchased and your GMP customer account number.
- Customers getting two rebates also need to include a completed W-9 Form, and name on W-9 and GMP account must match.
- Offer valid on heat pump purchases made on or between 2/10/21 and 6/30/21. See Terms & Conditions.
- Find a Contractor or Retailer.
- Valid on qualified products:
Important note from GMP! The response from customers has been amazing and processing could take about 8 weeks. Have questions? Email or call us at (888) 835-4672
February is Black History Month in Vermont
Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans”. Since 1976 U.S. presidents have designated February as Black History Month. Other countries including Canada and the United Kingdom also devote a month to celebrating Black history.
Related articles from Vermont during Black History Month:
- Alexander Twilight to be honored with portrait at Vt. Statehouse
- On hot mic, consultant utters racial slurs in Vermont Senate committee meeting
- Who was Vermont’s first known Black police leader? Meet Sheriff Stephen Bates.
- VPR Black History Month Programming
- The Deeper Dig: Xusana Davis on race, belonging and ‘Vermontiness’
- Lawmaker questions whether systemic racism exists
Nominations sought for Southern Vermont Emerging Leaders
This year presented enormous challenges, but it also offered unique opportunities for ordinary people to support their communities in crucial ways. 2021 Emerging Leaders recognition will highlight those young professionals who went above and beyond during this unprecedented time for our generation. Honorees will be chosen by the Southern Vermont Young Professionals Steering Committee and the Shires Young Professionals Steering Committee, who together co-sponsor the Emerging Leaders recognition.
But they need help from community members to identify these extraordinary individuals by nominating young professionals from Windham Region (encompassing Windham County and the towns of Readsboro, Searsburg, Winhall, & Weston) or Bennington County to be honored as one of this year’s Emerging Leaders of Southern Vermont. read more and access the nomination form
New Bills/Resolutions Rep. Sibilia is sponsoring
|H.215||An act relating to creating a statewide school district|
Short form bill that has been introduced in each of the last two biennium. My support indicates I’d like to see this concept fleshed out in order for policy makers to consider whether or not a statewide would better serve students and taxpayers then the current model local spending / statewide financing systems is working in terms of equity, accountability and cost. Brigham reminded us that it’s the state that is accountable for equity.
|H.216||An act relating to the requirement for public high school students to demonstrate proficiency in civics as a condition of graduation|
This bill proposes to require that public high school students demonstrate proficiency in civics as a condition of graduation.
|H.219||An act relating to student loan repayment for members of the Vermont National Guard|
This bill proposes to create a student loan repayment program for members of the Vermont National Guard. This program would be available to members who have completed basic training and who have incurred postsecondary student loan debt and would be available after all other sources of federal and State aid to reduce the member’s student loan debt have been used. The benefit would be up to the in-State tuition rate charged by Northern Vermont University for four academic years, and would require two years of National Guard service for each year of student loan debt relief. The fiscal year 2022 General Fund appropriation for this program would be $1,000,000.00, and this appropriation would be expected to fund the student loan repayment program for the program’s first two years of operation.
|H.236||An act relating to ranked choice voting|
This bill proposes to require the use of ranked choice voting in all primary elections except for that of President and in general elections for the offices of U.S. Senator and U.S. Representative.
Vermont House sessions
The public can also watch the Vermont House legislative sessions live or recorded videos – information below
Tuesday at 10:00 AM; Wednesday at 1:15 PM; Thursday at 1:15 PM; Friday at 9:30 AM (All times subject to change)
As always, if you have suggestions, concerns or critiques please be in touch so we can schedule time to discuss them.
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. Follow my regular posts online at http://www.laurasibiliavt.com
Rep. Laura Sibilia
Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro, Whitingham