Covid-19 updates, State News

Gray calls on Scott to take ‘greater measures’ to manage pandemic

By Lola Duffort/VTDigger

Amid a rise in cases, Lt. Gov. Molly Gray on Sept. 16 called on the Scott administration to take “greater measures” to dampen the spread of Covid-19.

The Vermont Dept. of Health reported a record-setting 314 cases Thursday but said an IT problem might be partly to blame for the day’s spike in cases.

Despite a Delta-fueled surge in cases and hospitalizations, Gov. Phil Scott has resisted calls to reimpose wider restrictions, instead choosing to lean on vaccination to manage the pandemic. The state has narrowly asked school districts, however, to require masking indoors.

“Because the current masking guidance is not yielding the outcomes intended, until the remaining 13 percent of eligible Vermonters are vaccinated, vaccines are approved for children under 12, and boosters for at-risk adults are fully available, we must take greater measures to protect Vermonters,” Gray said in a statement released shortly before 4 p.m.

The lieutenant governor wrote that she had “strongly encouraged” Scott to “take steps to further clarify indoor masking and social distancing recommendations and to consider steps necessary to issuing mask requirements or other measures.”

“This may include returning to a state of emergency and issuing a mask mandate to protect at risk Vermonters and unvaccinated children,” she added in a follow-up statement.

Jason Maulucci, a spokesperson for the governor, defended the administration’s approach.

“In an environment where 77% of Vermont’s full population has been vaccinated, the governor does not believe the situation warrants declaring a state of emergency and instituting statewide mandates,” Maulucci wrote in an email.

Doing so would result in businesses closing, he argued, as well as larger events such as weddings, fairs and festivals being canceled.

“[Gray’s] statement seems to suggest that the LG would support such ‘greater measures’ until 100% of the eligible population has been vaccinated. That has never happened in the history of human vaccination efforts,” Maulucci said. “The governor is not willing to declare a state of emergency and institute such restrictions indefinitely.”

Gray, a Democrat, has frequently crossed party lines to align herself with Vermont’s Republican governor. When Democratic leaders in the Legislature signaled their displeasure late last month with the governor’s handling of the Delta surge, she did not weigh in.

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