Leonine Public Affairs While administrative action dominated the news this week the legislature was very active with bills that had been priorities before the COVID-19 crisis. With legislation addressing the virus underway committees worked diligently to finalize bills that range from the regulation of pesticides to funding higher education to the Global Warming Solutions Act. There was much focus on COVID-19 related legislation as well and the House passed three major funding bills. These included the miscellaneous tax bill, the supplemental budget adjustment bill and the capital bill.
by Timothy McQuiston, Vermont Business Magazine Governor Phil Scott today announced the resumption of additional business operations, including outdoor seating at restaurants and bars, hair salons and barber shops and some additional health services. However, Scott also announced that all fairs and festivals for this summer have been canceled. Effective today, May 22, restaurants and bars may reopen for limited outdoor seating, including for the sale and consumption of alcohol.
Vermont Business Magazine Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD implored Vermonters to continue the practices necessary to keep germs and the COVID-19 virus from spreading. Noting that though Vermont has been fortunate relative to other states, 54 people have died and almost 1,000 people have tested positive. Dr. Levine specifically cited the need to ensure people at risk of serious illness, including older Vermonters and people with impaired immunity, are not exposed to the virus. Although the data continues to show Vermont is doing well in its efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, we cannot let our guard down. As Vermont reopens and the weather turns toward summer, physical distancing from others, wearing face coverings and handwashing continue to be essential.
Vermont Business Magazine The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated today that Eike Blohm, 38, of South Burlington was charged by criminal complaint in United States District Court in Burlington, Vermont, with one count of production of child pornography, and one count of possession of child pornography.
Blohm made his initial appearance to answer the complaint in federal court on May 22, 2020. At the hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge John M Conroy ordered Blohm detained pending trial.
Public Assets Institute Almost 55,000 Vermonters were unemployed in April, and the state’s jobless rate rose to 15.6 percent. The unemployment rate increase since January was the third highest in the country. This is the official rate, which counts people without a job who are actively seeking work. Since the beginning of March, almost 95,000 Vermonters have filed initial claims for unemployment compensation.
Vermont Business Magazine The holiday weekend is traditionally the start of the hiking season in Vermont. From its rocky summits to its gentle valleys, Vermont is home to hundreds of miles of hiking opportunities. This year, with COVID-19 as a dominant concern, we are asking hikers to take a few extra precautions to both protect public health and protect the public value of our beautiful trails.
Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Department of Health is opening nearly two dozen additional pop-up sites to test people who do not have symptoms of COVID-19 for the virus. The specimen collection sites are located throughout the state. Health officials especially encourage health care workers, first responders, child care providers currently serving essential workers, and people returning to Vermont – such as college students, people who winter out of state and second home owners, to sign up. The sites are organized and led by the department’s local health offices with support from EMS units and the Vermont National Guard.
Vermont Business Magazine Today, the Vermont Department of Labor reported that the number of unemployed Vermonters increased by nearly 44,000, which pushed the April unemployment rate to 15.6 percent. According to household data, the seasonally-adjusted statewide unemployment rate for April increased twelve and five-tenths percentage points from the prior month’s estimate of 3.1 percent. The hardest hit sector was Accommodation & Food Services, which lost 18,400 jobs or 61.3 percent of its workforce. The comparable United States rate in April was 14.7 percent, an increase of ten and three-tenths percentage points from the revised March estimate.
Vermont Business Magazine In a new study, SmartAsset analyzed data to find the states with the largest rainy day funds as of 2019. Vermont ranks among the top 10 states. Vermont had the highest ranking in the Northeast.
Agency of Commerce and Community Development On Wednesday, Governor Scott unveiled a $400 million Economic Recovery Package prominently featuring targeted relief to the lodging industry. The package includes a $250 million loan and grant package – including a set of emergency assistance grants for lodging properties based on helping you meet fixed costs.
Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Department of Health is reporting today that there are six new cases of COVID-19 in Vermont for a total of 950. Deaths are holding at 54 and there has been only one in the last two weeks. Temperatures will be warmer than we’ve had yet this year, so the VDH says it’s important to err on the safe side in early season heat. Even though it’s not as hot as mid-summer, ease into outdoor activities. And owners and managers of buildings that have been closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are urged to take steps that can prevent illnesses associated with stagnant water in plumbing systems. And there will be outdoor seating at restaurants starting Friday.