Scott orders closure of 'nonessential' child care; further measures 'inevitable'

Published: Mar. 17, 2020 at 5:19 PM EDT
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Vermont Gov. Phil Scott is tightening restrictions on child care centers across the state to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Scott and administration officials held a press conference Wednesday morning on the new child care guidelines and other COVID-19 response efforts.

Scott says child care centers will be closed except for those that serve children of "essential workers" including health care workers and emergency responders.

That means schools and state regulated child care programs are asked to provide care to, at a minimum, their own enrollees who are children of essential persons. But there are strict guidelines they have to follow, including no more than 10 children in a classroom. State officials estimate there are about 288 children that fit the "essential" definition.

Scott admitted that the order asks a great sacrifice of some child care workers. "This is a moment of service for all of us, " he said. "We're all in this together and we'll get through this."

Education officials say for those child care facilities forced to close, they will continue to receive state subsidies to remain viable.

Scott says former state officials Neale Lunderville and Liz Miller will spearhead the state's child care efforts.

Vt. health officials say there is now a total of 19 positive cases in Vermont. They estimate about 273 hospital beds are available. That does not include "surge" beds and other potential beds that could be made available by the National Guard and other agencies. They say about 245 ventilators are available, although it is not clear how many would be needed should the number of cases grow.

Governor Scott says additional state measures to slow the spread of the virus are inevitable.