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Businesses, shoppers navigate new stage of the pandemic

Published: Nov. 26, 2021 at 4:54 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 26, 2021 at 5:03 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - While state and federal officials monitor the new omicron coronavirus variant, Vermonters are contemplating what it means for them. Our Calvin Cutler hit the streets to find out how people are navigating the pandemic.

It’s another pandemic Black Friday but because of vaccines, it looks different than last year. And so do the comfort levels of Vermonters.

Last year, people were encouraged to shop online or use curbside service.

Visitors from out of town were mostly off the table as pandemic travel restrictions put the kibosh on tourism.

Now, 489,000 Vermonters have a dose of the vaccine and the delta variant is driving cases. Businesses and shoppers are navigating this new stage of the pandemic.

“I’m vaccinated myself, so I feel very comfortable coming out,” said Win Reichard of South Burlington.

“Whatever I can to keep myself healthy and other people healthy is what I’m trying to do,” said Samantha Way of Brooklyn, New York.

There was new emphasis on that management Friday as global health leaders raced to understand the behavior of the new omicron COVID-19 variant.

There’s no evidence yet that the strain, first identified in South Africa, is more deadly, transmissible or will overcome vaccines.

Experts say public health researchers say this isn’t the first variant and it likely won’t be the last.

“If we don’t ensure access to vaccines globally we can expect new variants that threaten global health to emerge,” said Anne Sosin, a Dartmouth College policy fellow.

Sosin says adopting data-driven policies around masking and ventilation will help control variants, and by using housing and paid time off policies to help people isolate in quarantine.

State leaders say taking commonsense precautions will help, too, like staying home when sick, getting vaccinated and getting tested.

And some remind people it’s important to take care of each other and have tolerance for each other’s comfort levels.

“We’re all at a different place and we need to learn to accept some of that and work with everyone and try to educate and get everyone on board,” said Reed Harrigan of Campden, New Hampshire. “But at the same time, we can’t make enemies.”

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