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Scott to extend COVID emergency order to mid-August

(WCAX)
Published: Jul. 14, 2020 at 8:20 AM EDT
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Vermont Governor Phil Scott announced he will extend the COVID-19 state of emergency for another month.

The order, which has already been extended several times, was set to expire Wednesday. Despite the state having the lowest percentage of positive tests coming back in the U.S., Scott says the authority allows his administration to maintain control of re-starting the economy based on health data.

Vermont Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts announced two grant programs to help the agriculture sector. He says 25 dairy farms went out of business in Vermont since March. Now, $25 million will be made available for the hard hit dairy industry. Those that produce milk from cows, sheep, and goats, as well as those who process milk are eligible. Losses must be related to the pandemic or increased expenses due to the pandemic.

Other non-dairy agricultural relief will total $5 million. The application will be available soon and will be administered in partnership with the Vermont Economic Development Authority. That could include aid for farmers markets slaughter houses.

HEALTH UPDATE

Also starting Friday, health care providers can submit applications for $275 million in grants. This is for every size practice. Those participating will have four weeks to complete their applications. The funding awards will be based on need. Another application process will happen in October.

Agency of Human Services Secretary Mike Smith says $375 million is really needed but the $275 million will help. He also announced that new guidance is coming for long-term care facilities. The state is taking steps to ease restrictions, slowly introducing opportunities for more visitation. Not every facility will resume right away. Smith says the pace is "slow and steady and it needs to be that way.

As of Tuesday, Vermont health officials reported 1,305 coronavirus cases in the state and 56 deaths. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine says there have been no increases in the Winooski and Fair Haven outbreaks, but they are monitoring possible new outbreaks in the Manchester-Londonderry area. The 30 positive antigen tests are not considered lab-confirmed, so they are not reflected in the state's numbers yet. Levine said they expect a spike in the state virus numbers when they are confirmed.

SCOTT SIGNS RACIAL BIAS/USE-OF FORCE BILL

Governor Scott Monday signed into law a measure that seeks to address racial bias and excessive use of force by law enforcement.

The new law comes two months after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police while in custody, sparking nationwide protests over police abuse.

the governor says while Vermont has committed to fair and impartial policing for years, there is clearly more work to be done. "This is a pivotal moment for meaningful change and legislative action needed to occur quickly," said Scott.

He says there are some sections of the law he would like lawmakers to clean up when they return later this year.

The bill was one of ten Scott signed Monday.

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