What can VT teach the nation about COVID-19?
Bill McKibben, the Vermont writer recently published a piece in the New Yorker, highlighting Vermont’s low COVID-19 death rates and exploring why. McKibben cites state leadership, high levels of social trust, competent health leaders that have been put front and center in the crisis, a fairly healthy population, and an active and engaged media among other factors.
What are some of the reasons that Vt has less cases?
Vermont has consistently been in the lowest five states when it comes to COVID-19 cases and deaths, both in total and in per capita. Why? We put that question to Mike Pieciak, Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation – the office that tracks Vermont cases and models future trends. Commissioner Pieciak, who was first appointed by Democratic Governor Peter Shumlin and re-appointed by Governor Phil Scott, points to contact tracing, the work of the VDH, testing and staying at home as some possible explanations
Financial and mental health A new poll from VPR/VT PBS indicates deep concerns among Vermonters about their financial and mental health. About 70% of the respondents said that the pandemic threatened their finances and almost one-quarter said the pandemic posed a "threat to their economic future." The poll also looked at concerns about the impact on small businesses, with more than two-thirds of those surveyed concerned about the future of these businesses.
Vermonters trust their government
A new study from The Center for Rural Studies, called the VT COVID Wellbeing study examines Vermonter attitudes in a number of areas related to COVID-19. The study finds that Vermonters have greater confidence in our local government than before the pandemic, and less confidence in the National government. And the new poll from VPR & VT PBS finds Vermonter's strongly approve of Gov. Scott's handling of the pandemic.
Vermont historian and writer Matt Fraser writes about COVID-19 in The Disease Map of Rural America. Fraser argues that the urban-rural distinction when discussing the current pandemic and case rates is an oversimplification of rural America. “Maybe, then”, he says, “the disease map of rural America will end up serving as a different kind of map as well—one that can point the way to a new landscape of possibility for left-wing politics and coalition-building in the post-pandemic world to come.”
COVID-19 and children In a recent article for the Journal for American Pediatrics, University of Vermont Medical Center Infectious disease specialists Benjamin Lee and William Raszka suggest that schools can open because school-aged children are far less important drivers of COVID-19 than adults, but that the risk and benefit is not equal among all students ages 5 to 18. Read coverage of the article by Ecowatch here. And an article about the authors here.
Collecting alms during the pandemic
How has the pandemic affected morning alms rounds for monks in Thailand? Why Buddhist monks collect alms and visit households even in times of social distancing, an essay by UVM Religion professor Thomas Borchert finds that the practice is essential for a number of reasons -- even in a pandemic. The piece was published in a number of outlets including The Conversation.
Access to nature
A new study shows that access to nature is important to people during the pandemic and there has been an increase in people spending time outside. The researchers, including Brendan Fisher at UVM’s environmental program, found that 69.0% of the respondents had increased or greatly increased their visitation rate to natural/urban park areas, and 80.6% of respondents considered that the importance of these natural areas and access to them either increased or greatly increased.
Vermont Climatologist Lesley-Ann Dupigny-Giroux, Professor, Department of Geography, UVM (Fellow of the American Meteorological Society & President-elect of the American Association of State Climatologists) talks about Weather, Climate & COVID-19.