MONTPELIER, Vt. (WFFF) — Gov. Phil Scott signed legislation Tuesday giving towns in Vermont the authority to enact their own mask mandates. But at his weekly press briefing, Scott maintained his position that a broad statewide mandate is not necessary, saying the data shows the best tool to fight the coronavirus is vaccination.
“To be clear, I am not willing to move us backwards,” the governor said. “And frankly, I think it sends the wrong message about how effective vaccines are and snatches hope from the hands of Vermonters.”
Meanwhile, state officials say an increase in cases from Thanksgiving travel and gatherings is unavoidable. Agency of Human Affairs Secretary Mike Smith says the state will ramp up testing efforts for the holidays. He recommended people get a COVID test five to seven days after Thanksgiving.
One concern, he said, is getting more at-home COVID tests, which yield quicker results, as a nationwide inventory shortage continues. Smith said state-run testing sites are set to receive 1,500 of the antigen tests. They’re also for sale at most pharmacies.
“When a more reliable supply chain develops, you will see us moving to testing platforms that have more rapid turn-around capability,” Smith said.
In the past week, nearly 70,000 people were tested in Vermont, said Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine, who urged people to get vaccinated and those who already are to get a booster shot if eligible. “The smaller and more vaccinated your gathering is, the safer it is,” Levine said. “Pretty simple and straightforward advice.”