MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Community providers are asking Vermont to extend emergency housing in hotels for some of the homeless population, including people with health issues, domestic violence survivors, and pregnant women, as they say about 600 households are likely to lose the benefit this week.
In July, the state extended the hotel voucher program 84 days for families with children, the disabled, pregnant women, and other vulnerable people, and gave $2,500 checks to those no longer eligible. Families with children and some disabled households may be able to stay longer.
The groups sent a letter to the Vermont Department for Children and Families commissioner last week, asking the state to continue to provide the benefits to as many households as possible, in light of the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus and a lack of immediate additional shelter beds or rental units.
“With rooms still available and FEMA funding available to pay for them, we cannot support the termination of benefits for immunocompromised persons whose health is still very much at risk due to the ongoing pandemic, domestic violence survivors who may feel forced to return to abusive homes rather than sleep unsheltered, pregnant women who will become more likely to have less healthy preterm babies as a result of being unsheltered, and so forth,” the letter stated.
Vermont health department officials say they’ll be ready to begin vaccinating children against COVID-19 as soon as a vaccine is approved for use. “We’ve been doing the planning for this literally for months,” Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said earlier this month.
On Monday, vaccine maker Pfizer said its COVID-19 vaccine works for children ages 5 to 11 and that it will seek U.S. authorization for this age group soon—a key step toward beginning vaccinations for youngsters. There is no immediate indication of when the vaccine could receive emergency use authorization for children in that age group.
Currently, the Pfizer vaccine is authorized for use in children as young as 12. The Health Department says 72.9% of Vermont children ages 12 to 15 have been vaccinated.
Vermont reported 90 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, for a statewide total since the pandemic began of more than 31,760. A total of 46 people were hospitalized with the illness, including 15 who were in intensive care, the Vermont Health Department reported Monday.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Vermont has risen over the past two weeks from 146.00 new cases per day on September 4 to 217.14 new cases per day on September 18. The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Vermont has risen over the past two weeks from 1 death per day on September 4 to 1.57 deaths per day on September 18.
The AP is using data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering to measure outbreak caseloads and deaths across the U.S.