Vt. (NEWS10)- After more than 15 months and 145 press conferences, Gov. Phil Scott helped Vermonters say goodbye to the state’s COVID-19 state of emergency Tuesday, while assuring residents who still need assistance that support will continue.
“It was just a joint effort across Vermont, across different sectors,” the governor said at a press briefing. “It’s not just from the government’s stand point — it took a village to get together and bring us to this point.”
Scott said the Vermonters reached his goal of an 80 percent vaccination rate for eligible Vermonters on Sunday. As of Tuesday, 80.3 percent of Vermonters ages 12 and over had received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Scott also signed a separate executive order to make clear that the state’s efforts to vaccinate the remaining population and to provide financial support to those who need it will continue.
“We want to make sure that when lifting this order, people who have relied on some of the programs and services aren’t left behind,” he said.
The executive order maintains the Vermont National Guard’s role at vaccination sites, as well as ensuring that Vermonters have access to emergency housing and food programs. State officials said the vaccine will be available at 59 locations this week.
Human Services Secretary Mike Smith said expanded eligibility for the housing program will continue. “We recognized the need to protect the most vulnerable and we suspended all eligibility criteria during the pandemic,” he said.
In July, the state plans to move away from the expanded motel voucher program in phases. Eligible households, including children, older Vermonters, and individuals with disabilities will continue to be housed for an additional three months or longer.
Those who aren’t eligible may receive a payment of $2,500 to help with expenses. Smith also said the state will continue to offer the maximum emergency allotment under the Three Squares Vermont food program.
Scott said eviction moratoriums are set to expire in 30 days, but that each case will be reviewed “make sure it’s viable and appropriate.”
“The legislature put the 30 days in place after the emergency order expires. They felt comfortable in giving that amount of time for people to get access to work, so to speak,” he said.
Meanwhile, Vermonters said they were relieved that the state of emergency had been lifted.
“I am so excited to not be wearing masks and seeing people’s smiles,” said Burlington resident Alora Goodkind.
Burlington resident Ashley Sullivan said it feels good to be a Vermonter these days.
“I think that if this pandemic has showed us anything, is that humans are capable of really difficult things when it matters most, and we have really shown that here in Burlington and in the state of Vermont,” she said.