- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 10, 2020

The state of Vermont on Tuesday suspended a program that allowed people from across the Northeast to visit the state without quarantining if they come from a county with a low rate of coronavirus infection.

Gov. Phil Scott said Tuesday that the number of counties eligible, listed on a map that uses red, orange and green to indicate eligibility, has continued to shrink.

As of Tuesday only two counties between Maine and Ohio were listed as green, from where travel to Vermont without quarantining would be permitted.

“The fact is, along with social gatherings, travel to, and from, other states without the proper quarantine continues to be one of the common denominators in our rising case counts,” Scott said at his regular Tuesday virus briefing.

Essential travel, such as work, school, medical care, personal safety, shared child custody, or buying groceries is not affected, but people should only do what they need to do and then return home.



“When you consider the amount of red in the Northeast and it’s no likely to improve for a few weeks, it only made sense to simplify the policy in order to ensure better compliance,” Scott said.

Vermont determined eligible counties as those with virus rates of less than 400 cases per million residents. While travel within the state is not restricted, as of Tuesday, only two Vermont counties - Rutland and Franklin - fell under the threshold.

Scott also urged Vermonters to follow the guidance designed to reduce the spread of the virus: Wear masks in public, limit private gatherings to 10 people or less and avoid unneeded travel.

He’s hopeful the voluntary restrictions can help stem the spread of the virus.

“It’s an ongoing effort, nothing is off the table, but certainly we want to live within the restrictions we have in place right now,” he said.

In other Vermont coronavirus news:

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CORONAVIRUS RELIEF FUNDS

The Vermont legislature has delayed a decision on how to spend $75 million in coronavirus relief funds that the governor has asked to be reallocated to help businesses.

The Joint Fiscal Committee of the Legislature decided Monday to delay a decision on how to reallocate these funds from the federal relief act until Saturday, the Bennington Banner reported.

The committee has 10 days to approve or deny requests from Scott’s administration on reallocating the funds, according to legislation passed over the summer.

The committee heard arguments about whether the criteria the state’s Agency of Commerce and Community Development has used to allocate relief to businesses so far targets the funds to businesses most in need, the newspaper reported. They have to consider a business’s lost revenue in 2020 compared to the same period in 2019 when determining how to award funding.

Additionally, members of the committee asked whether these funds should instead go to supporting the state’s unemployment insurance and other social safety net programs.

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BURLINGTON RISK

The mayor of Vermont’s largest city says a wastewater surveillance program is detecting an increase of the coronavirus in the New North End.

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger says it’s an early sign of elevated risk. He is urging people in the New North End and throughout the city to act together to limit the spread of the virus.

“Since Friday, we have seen even more indications of elevated virus risk right now in Burlington and throughout much of Vermont,” Weinberger said in a statement.

Weinberger’s warning comes as Vermont, like much of the country, is coping with a spike in cases of the coronavirus.

He said the city is working with the Vermont Department of Health to evaluate potential sites for pop-up testing.

Weinberger also urged city residents to follow updated Health Department guidance to limit gatherings to 10 people or fewer with a very limited number of trusted households and to avoid unnecessary travel.

“If you have attended an event with people who are not in your usual social circle, please avoid close contact with others and consider obtaining a test now as well as seven days after the event or gathering,” Weinberger said.

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NUMBERS

On Tuesday the Health Department reported 46 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing the total since the pandemic began to more than 2,460.

Currently there are 12 people hospitalized, including four in intensive care.

Over the weekend the state reported its first coronavirus fatality in more than three months, bringing the total to 59.

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