Vermont education head says state’s schools are safe

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont state officials are stressing the importance of keeping schools open amid the coronavirus pandemic as they urge Vermonters to limit gatherings, avoid holiday travel and continue to follow the Health Department guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus.

Vermont schools are operating safely during the pandemic, said Education Secretary Dan French during the governor’s coronavirus briefing on Friday.

As of Nov. 1, the state had 11 COVID-19 cases in the last seven days in schools and a total of 39 cases since schools opened in September, he said. The availability of staff is affecting the operation of some schools, causing them to switch back and forth between in-person instruction and remote learning, he said.

“We continue to see that schools are not a main driver of transmission in this pandemic,” said Dr. Rebecca Bell, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics Vermont Chapter. “The fact that there have been a number of cases in the K-12 learning environment that have not led to outbreaks highlights the effectiveness of the mitigation strategies we have in place here in Vermont.”

As the days get darker and colder and the holiday season starts, it will be more important than ever to follow guidelines around masking, avoiding crowded spaces, complying with travel guidelines, getting a flu shot and staying home when sick to keep kids in school, she said.

“By staying vigilant, and being smart and limiting our gathering sizes and travel even during the holidays we can keep schools and our economy open and we will get through the pandemic faster and on better footing than just about any other state,” said Republican Gov. Phil Scott.



A coronavirus outbreak linked to a Massachusetts church has grown to more than 200 cases, health officials say.

The cases have been traced to services held at the Community Crossroads Church in Fitchburg on and around Oct. 18, the Fitchburg Board of Health announced Friday.

Anyone associated with activities at the church should get tested, the board said. Cases and contacts traced back to the church have affected 75 businesses and 22 area towns.

The church, in a Facebook post, said blaming the city’s outbreak on the church is “unfair and a distortion of the facts.” It said it does everything in its power to keep the congregation safe.



Bath, Maine, is creating an indoor community space as temperatures begin to get cooler during the pandemic.

Organizations including Bath Iron Works, Main Street Bath and Sagadahoc Real Estate Association got together to create the open space for up to 50 people during the pandemic.

Beacon Park is equipped with Wi-Fi and furnished with an air-filtration system, bathrooms, seating and workspace.

The shipyard will use it for job interviews and recruiting, but it’s available to the public for use, as well.


The seven-day rolling average of daily new coronavirus cases in Maine continues to rise.

The rate has risen over the past two weeks from almost 33 new cases per day on Oct. 23 to nearly 125 new cases per day on Friday, according to The COVID Tracking Project.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday reported 138 new confirmed cases and two deaths, raising the number of fatalities in the state to 152.



State health officials are urging anyone who visited a Hampton restaurant late last month to monitor for symptoms and get tested for the coronavirus.

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services in a statement Saturday said it has identified potential community exposure from a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19 at The 401 Tavern. The agency said potential community exposure occurred in the bar area on the evenings of Oct. 23 and Oct. 24.

The agency has conducted contact investigations on cases associated with the potential community exposure and is notifying known close contacts.


A rising number of COVID-19 cases in New Hampshire has operators of nursing homes worried.

Woodlawn Care Center, a family-run long-term care center in Newport, is dealing with its first cases of the disease.

“We’re in the middle of an outbreak,” Woodlawn administrator Chris Martin told WMUR-TV. “We have 18 residents that have tested positive, and our current resident population is about 45.”

State health officials said six facilities in the state are dealing with outbreaks.

“The virus has been unsparing,” said Brendan Williams, of the New Hampshire Health Care Association.

Williams said there is a sense of dread about what the coming months will bring as people spend time with friends and family for the holidays.

“So, we’re going to see a real increase in transmission, I’m afraid,” Williams said.



Four supporters of Cranston Mayor-elect Kenneth Hopkins who attended a Republican Election Night party have tested positive for COVID-19, Hopkins said Saturday.

The supporters “participated at different volunteer levels of activity on Election Day and were at our headquarters when we utilized the St Mary’s Feast Society Hall in Cranston,” Hopkins said in a news release, according to The Providence Journal.

“Despite our best precaution efforts to practice social distancing, wearing of facial masks, proper separation with dividers and hand sanitizing, a few positive tests have developed,” he said. “We cannot say for certain where their initial contact was, but it was likely before Election Day.”

Hopkins said he has tested negative.


The city of Coventry is closing all municipal buildings to the public starting Monday because of the state’s surging coronavirus numbers, and limiting access to some other buildings.

The library and public works office will remain open with new restrictions in place, interim Town Manager Edward Warzycha said in a statement Friday. Tax payments can be made using the white drop box outside the town hall.



Several colleges and universities in Connecticut have added new restrictions for students as coronavirus cases continue to rise in the state.

Quinnipiac University announced it is instituting a two-week quarantine after recording 155 positive tests on campus since Wednesday.

Yale students in several residential colleges also have been asked to quarantine after positive tests there. And, Sacred Heart and Fairfield universities have instituted curfews for students.

Source Article