At Vermont statehouse, a renewed call for mask mandate, state of emergency

Vermont News

MONTPELIER, Vt. (WFFF) — Nurses, lawmakers, and teachers on Monday again called on Vermont Gov. Phil Scott to reissue a state of emergency, arguing that COVID cases in schools are having a cascading effect on families. 

Rep. Mari Cordes, a registered nurse, said the state’s vaccine-only approach is not working, and the nursing shortage will only get worse if lawmakers don’t take more action. “Health care providers are exhausted and stressed,” she said. “We miss our families.”

Anne Sosin, a public health researcher at Dartmouth College, said her eight year old daughter tested positive for COVID. Sosin wants Scott to issue a mask mandate, something the governor has repeatedly said is not necessary. “Data-driven mask policies give us more time to vaccinate children and to deliver boosters to elders,” she said. 

The group also asked for more funding for contact tracers and more health care staff in schools. “Probably 60 to 70% of the kids that walk in the door walk in with COVID-related symptoms,” said Kelly Landwehr, a nurse at Middlebury Union High School.

Becca McCray, the lead nurse for the Burlington School District, said the first couple of months of school have been difficult. “We are overwhelmed, exhausted and many many are at their breaking point,” she said. “Either leaving their jobs or considering leaving, we can not afford to lose school nurses right now.”

The CDC reports that Vermont has the 14th-highest seven-day average case rate in the U.S.

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