Re-opening Becomes Big Topic at Governors Briefing

VERMONT- Over the weekend, Governor Phil Scott and his task force announced Farmers Markets could re-open with strict physical distancing guidelines.This comes as the Governor’s task force announced Vermont is past its peak for active COVID-19 cases, now sitting at 886 positive cases and 51 deaths.

"Over the last few weeks, we have taken a few small steps to open our economy and put people back to work. Each week we have seen the situation improve because of Vermonters sacrifices and their hard work to stay separated which has slowed the spread of the virus and as a result, we have avoided the worst possible outcomes and saved hundreds of lives." said Governor Scott on Monday.

Today, the Governor and his task force announced they feels it is safe to open more health care services in Vermont.

"In a joint effort with my team, they have developed guidelines to outline and allow outpatient services and clinic visits. Things like diagnostic imaging and some outpatient surgeries and procedures with strict CDC guidelines."

To be clear, Governor Scott wanted to emphasize with this decision, elected surgeries that require a hospital stay are not part of this phase but if things continue to improve and positive trends continue, then the Governor and his task force will discuss opening further.

Health Commissioner Dr. Levine said some examples of some of the precautions that should be taken when providing care include but are not limited to some of these following examples.

"A process to screen patients for COVID-19 related symptoms prior to any scheduled procedure, a process to screen staff and essential visitors for symptoms prior to entering a facility, PPE should be worn and utilized as necessary to ensure staff and patient safety, patients must wear mouth and nose coverings when in public areas, only individuals essential to conducting the surgery or procedure should be in the surgery or procedure suit and waiting room chairs must be distanced at least six feet," Levine said.

While these guidelines will allow these services to resume in the safest manner possible, Dr. Levine says we must acknowledge things may change and that these services may need to be suspended again in the future if the Department of Health determines that a COVID-19 outbreak has occurred and health care professionals can no longer safely care for Vermonters.

On the more optimistic side, Governor Scott says if our efforts continue to slow and contain the spread of the virus, Vermont can expect to see more re-openings in other parts of the health care system such as dentist offices and eye care.

Overall, Governor Scott wanted to thank Vermonters for their sacrifices and dedication to get us to this position.

"I want to thank Vermonters for all you have done to get us to this point and those on the front lines for the service and care for the people of Vermont."