Scott pledges to lift restrictions when vax rate hits 80%

Updated: May. 21, 2021 at 6:40 AM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont Governor Phil Scott Friday said he will lift all remaining COVID restrictions before July 4 if the state hits an 80% vaccination threshold.

“If we hit 80, I’ll lift any remaining restrictions and mandates that day,” Scott said. That means no more masks, no more social distancing, and no more curfews on bars, clubs, and restaurants. “This will be an ambitious goal for most, and to be honest, most states won’t come close to reaching it, but I believe Vermont can. We can show the country how it’s done.”

The governor stressed that it’s up to young people aged 18 to 29 to lead this effort. With just under 28,000 shots left to get to the finish line, the state has accelerated its vaccination efforts, with over 30 walk-in clinics this weekend, accompanied by incentives like free creemee coupons.

The clinics are on top of those already scheduled for Church Street, North Beach, Thunder Road, and the Lancaster, New Hampshire fairgrounds. There are also over 60 clinics at schools. And Vermonters can now get the vaccine from their primary care provider. “The strategy is designed to reach out to as many Vermonters as possible through the places they work, play, and live,” said AHS Secretary Mike Smith.

But will getting 80% of the whole state help reach herd immunity? Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine says the concept of herd immunity is a moving target and that Vermont is in the safest position to lift restrictions. “the goal is suppression of the virus and suppression of the virus means it’s being passed so infrequently that it keeps reaching dead ends, and the more dead ends it reaches the less we’re going to see of it,” he said.

Governor Scott says he’ll still lift all restrictions on July 4th, whether the state meets the 80% challenge or not. “Let’s keep our momentum going, let’s finish strong, let’s continue to show the nation and the world what this brave little state is capable of,” he said.

The governor said the reason for issuing the “challenge” was because the state has already vaccinated about 70% of eligible residents and is leading the country. He said the state is “getting close to the end of this race with just a few hurdles left,” and he said Vermonters “can show the country how it’s done.”

With about 27, 954 Vermonters to be vaccinated to get to that goal, Scott says we could reach that 80% threshold as early as June 8.

As of Friday, Vermont health officials reported 37 new coronavirus cases for a total of 24,065. There have been a total of 255 deaths. The state’s percent positive seven-day average is 1.1%. A total of 391,051 people have been tested, and 22,397 have recovered.

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