Bennington board ponders return of pledge after virus absence

Bennington County

Closeup ruffled American flag (Getty Images)

BENNINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont town board is considering whether to revive the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance now that it is holding in-person meetings again after it stopped the practice at the beginning of the pandemic.

The Bennington Select Board stopped reciting the pledge during more than a year of remote meetings because it was considered impractical. The Bennington Banner reported the board has been considering for some time other changes in the meeting format, including adding recitation of the town’s vision statement to the public comment process and to the agenda.

Board Chairwoman Jeannie Jenkins said she looked at the minutes of other boards in Bennington County and the select board appears to be the only community in the county that has been saying the pledge. “Looking at the purpose of the pledge in our meetings is not meant to be contentious or disrespectful, but instead to re-examine why we do what we do,” she said.

Jenkins said she and board member Jim Carroll are researching the pledge issue and she wants to make a recommendation at the next meeting. Carroll said he was “leaning toward restoration.”

Bennington state Rep. Mary Morrissey, a Republican, said she has heard from a number of residents since the pledge recitation was discontinued last spring voicing concerns and asking when and how that decision was made. It ended “a significant and long-standing tradition honored at our meetings,” she said. “I hope we can get back to saying it.”

Testing and numbers

The Vermont Department of Health is urging people who recently traveled to Provincetown, Massachusetts, to get tested for COVID-19, after a surge in cases in the popular Cape Cod resort town. Massachusetts health officials said Wednesday night that they had traced 256 cases to a Fourth of July cluster in Provincetown, up from 132 the day before.

Testing locations around the state are listed on the department’s website.

On Friday, the Vermont Department of Health reported 28 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19, bringing the statewide total since the pandemic began to more than 24,675. There were three people hospitalized, including one in intensive care. No new additional fatalities were reported, keeping the statewide total since the pandemic began at 259.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Vermont has risen over the past two weeks from 4.71 new cases per day on July 7 to 16.86 new cases per day on July 21.

The Associated Press is using data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering to measure outbreak caseloads and deaths across the U.S.

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