Legislative Update
Vermont Election 2020
by Devon Green
VAHHS Vice President of Government Relations

In what was less than a week ago, but feels like a decade ago, Vermont quietly and efficiently held an election. The statewide races resulted in much less nail biting than our presidential election, with Phil Scott coasting to the governorship, Molly Gray winning the lieutenant governor’s race and all other statewide positions going to incumbents. 
In the legislature, the biggest surprise was Democratic House Speaker Mitzi Johnson losing her bid for re-election by 18 votes. She has requested a recount. The House Progressives also lost their caucus leader, Robin Chestnut-Tangerman but will maintain seven seats in the House of Representatives. Republicans gained three seats and will have 46 members (pending the outcome of the recount). Democrats continue to hold on to a significant majority with 92 seats. Independents continue to make up the remaining five seats. The House Health Care Committee will also see some changes with Annmarie Christensen stepping down from her seat and Peter Reid losing his election. Additionally, there will be a new chair of the Appropriations Committee with Representative Kitty Toll not seeking reelection.
On the Senate side, Republicans picked up one seat when incumbent Senator John Rodgers lost his election to Russ Ingalls. Otherwise, Democrats continue to maintain their supermajority with 23 seats. The Senate Health and Welfare Committee will have at least one empty seat to fill after Senator Deb Ingraham did not seek reelection to the Senate.
All-in-all, these results show us just how local our races are and how Vermont continues to be an example for the rest of our country when it comes to conducting elections in a pandemic and a contentious presidential election year.
Thank you for voting! I volunteered on election day and was impressed that voters stayed masked and socially distant. Keep it going! Please stay healthy and practice wearing a mask, washing hands, and limiting the size of gathering to no more than 10 during the holidays. I’ll see you in January!
In the News
As coronavirus surges anew, Vermont may show US a path forward
Christian Science Monitor

As he speaks, City Manager William Fraser gazes out on the heart of downtown Montpelier, Vermont.

“Just as we’ve been talking – and I have a window facing Main Street – every single person that’s gone by has had a mask on,” he says. “And that’s on the sidewalks.”

It’s his way of pointing out that many Vermonters are doing their all to contain the pandemic. The state has called on people to wear masks in public, and many here in Vermont’s capital are following through, outdoors as well as indoors. They may be playing a crucial role in this state’s battle against the most serious viral outbreak in a century.

Nationwide, a surge in cases notched an unwelcome milestone Wednesday, with the United States becoming the first nation to see more than 100,000 new COVID-19 cases in a single day. The spike has forced some states to pause their reopening plans and put new restrictions on activities.

On Monday, Massachusetts issued a new stay-at-home advisory and ordered in-restaurant dining stopped after 9:30 p.m. As of this week, Michigan restaurants have to track customer names and phone numbers. Maine has postponed bar reopenings and returned to stricter limits on indoor gatherings.

Vermont reports 35 new COVID-19 cases, most in single day since June
My NBC 5

he Vermont Department of Health reported 35 additional cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, the most in a single day since June 3.

More than half of the new cases — 19 — were reported in Chittenden County, the state's most populous. The rest were split among several counties.

No additional deaths were reported Thursday. Statewide, there have been 58 deaths from complications associated with the disease, with the most recent being reported on July 28.

Vermont health officials have reported 2,303 cases of the virus since tracking began in March. That's by far the lowest per capita of any state in the nation, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

State officials: now’s no time for ‘COVID fatigue’
The Commons

Vermonters have heard the admonitions for months now — wear a mask, wash your hands, keep your distance, avoid crowds, stay home if you’re sick. And, for the most part, this advice from state officials has been heeded by Vermonters, whose state has consistently had the lowest number of COVID-19 infections per capita in the United States. But what happens if the advice is not followed? According to health officials, the consequence is a COVID-19 outbreak that can spread far beyond the initial point of infection.

At a news briefing in Montpelier on Oct. 30, state officials offered a glimpse into how a coronavirus outbreak associated with the hockey and broomball leagues at the Central Vermont Memorial Civic Center in Montpelier grew from two cases to 87 cases in just 22 days. Mike Pieciak, commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulation, reported 87 COVID-19 cases in 18 towns in four counties in central Vermont. The first two cases were reported on Oct. 7, Pieciak said. By Oct. 12, 13 cases were linked to the hockey and broomball leagues. In turn, Pieciak said, that initial outbreak led to four additional outbreaks, including one at Saint Michael’s College in Winooski. That cluster has grown to 41 cases, with six more confirmed cases there on Oct. 29.

Vermont National Guard to assist UVM Health Network
My NBC 5

The University of Vermont Health Network is working around-the-clock to find a fix for the massive cyberattack that's still impacting the UVM Medical Center and affiliate hospitals throughout Vermont and New York.

"It's really an all hands on deck (situation) until we get this fixed," said Al Gobeille, the executive vice president of operations with UVM Health Network. "We have other private companies, like Cisco and Microsoft that are helping us."

This week the organization has another helping hand from the National Guard.

"(Gov. Phil Scott) ordered us, ten of our soldiers currently, to stand active duty to get up there and help mitigate and get (the UVM Health Network) back on its feet. (UVM Health Network) obviously, their medical center, their network, is, for us, critical infrastructure," said Maj. Gen. Gregory Knight, the adjutant general with Vermont National Guard.

The ten members assisting the UVM Health Network are from the National Guard's Combined Cyber Response team, which has been working at the network's IDX Drive offices in South Burlington and will also be working with the organization's many affiliate locations to assist with technical difficulties. They will be on active duty until at least Nov. 8.

People in the News
Mark Your Calendar