Governor's Press Conference Notes

Notes from Most Recent Governor's Press Conference

Unoffical Notes from VMS Staff on the Governors Weekly Press Conferences - held each Tuesday from 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.


July 13, 2021

Phil Scott:

  • We are not letting up on vaccines – we don’t want accessibility to be the excuse - will soon be sharing locations for pop ups the next week

Commissioner Pieciak

  • Modeling report: https://dfr.vermont.gov/sites/finreg/files/doc_library/dfr-covid19-modeling-071321.pdf
  • We continue to make progress on vaccination rates
  • 2400 first doses administered this week – 82.8% with one dose
  • No fatalities in month of July – only state that can say this
  • Lowest hospitalization in the country
  • Small increase in cases this week (16 over last week) but lowest in country and single digits – forecast remains low
  • Do expect small rise in cases among unvaccinated – there is also regional increase – even seeing increases in highly vaccinated populations because of those who remain unvaccinated
  • Cases and hospitalizations are rising in much of the country – see clearly that regions with lower vaccination rates have highest case rates

Mark Levine

  • Data shows all 3 vaccines work against the variants circulating
  • Amount of time the protection lasts seems to be quite good but still a lot of investigation going on about the immune response and FDA/CDC evaluation the studies – no evidence you need a booster at this point but we will monitor new guidance and let you know if this changes
  • No specific guidance to get a booster if you have an immunocompromised state, there is good guidance to follow strategies like masking
  • J&J specifically is effective against COVID and the variants – no evidence it works differently, no conclusive evidence that booster with mRNA is necessary – this is under active study – if you are traveling to a state with higher Delta activity consider strategies like wearing a mask

Phil Scott:

  • Workforce is a top priority – our workforce is aging – announcing “Upskilling Vermont” program for job training, linking to employers
  • Joined by Dr. Patty Prelock, provost and senior vice president of the University of Vermont and Dr. Joyce Judy, president of the Community College of Vermont
  • Every Vermonter can take two free University of Vermont or Community College of Vermont professional development courses, fall 2021 and spring 2022
  • Time limited program thanks to state and federal rescue funds – may run about 2 years – but limited funding that will run out when used
  • Several buckets of funding are supporting this – some specific to health care, students returning to VT, federal ARPA funds

Questions (health care):

  • When can we expect fall school guidance? Do we expect masking for unvaccinated students? Sec. French: we are pleased with the CDC guidance; it is comprehensive and flexible – varies for state conditions; we will review and produce something in August; if any mitigation measures are required they will be easy to follow and “nominal”; will make assessment about masking based on conditions in Vermont – want to wait to get as close as possible to reopening but also know we need to give some time to implement or for local communities to react; Mark L: note that CDC guidance is aimed at districts that may not have even opened last school year; VT did well reopening and getting kids into school, we’re familiar with these recommendations; the thing we will be watching most closely is what the conditions are “on the ground” in VT – if they are like now this is a great way to start school and we can make sure we have the right “layers” in place – premature to decide in VT if we will need 3 ft spacing, masking, etc; we hope with Vermont’s vaccination rates everyone continues to be well protected
  • What about CDC announcement about neurologic illness with J&J vaccine? ML: Has occurred in about 100 people – a testimony to the amazing reporting system we have to know about this; talking about 1 case in 1,000,000; considered rare, unusual but worthy of mention, symptoms would typically occur within 2 weeks of vaccination; I don’t want people to think this is one more reason not to get vaccinated; CDC has said the risks from COVID is far greater
  • Are increases in cases in Vermont due to Delta – do we know – and can Vermont ever be fully safe with Delta circulating? ML: we have a number of recent cases we are sequencing but we don’t have the data back yet. Seeing about 8 cases/day so have more to sequence – will share when we can. Would not be surprised to see Delta as a higher % of cases. It is still COVID while more readily transmissible. But shouldn’t change the approach regarding strategy – primarily encouraging vaccination. Phil Scott: we shouldn’t lose our perspective, just started vaccinating 7 months ago and before that were 100% vulnerable; now we have over 82% vaccinated.
  • If someone wants a booster shot, can they currently get one or would they be denied? ML: they would probably be denied because we don’t have evidence that getting a booster at this time is evidence-based; I would rather have people do this when the evidence points to it
  • Any updates on Canadian border? Phil Scott: No – was hoping to ask on White House call today but call is now every-other week
  • Has heard about outbreaks at summer camps – has this impacted VT? ML: not aware of any camp interruptions in VT; of all pre-camp testing have not seen any positives
  • What about Biden door to door vaccination? PS: won’t be cold calling at people’s doors – but might send people to homes if they want it
  • Do we know how many students will be home schooled this fall? Sec French: don’t have a count yet, typically don’t see applications till early August
  • What percent of cases in VT are being sequenced? ML: doesn’t have a total number – some depends on validity of sample, which lab ran the test