Vermont Gov. Phil Scott provided an update on how the state is addressing child care for "essential persons" during the coronavirus pandemic during a press conference on Wednesday.
"It’s important to understand even though most of us will have mild to moderate symptoms, we can all transmit it," Scott said. "We all have a role to play in making sure we don’t pass it on to those who are at the highest risk."
Scott directed childcare in Vermont to close normal operations but encourages continued operation exclusively as needed for workers who are essential to Vermont’s mitigation of COVID-19, his office said. He announced the closure of all Vermont schools last weekend.
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The governor directed the Agency of Human Services and the Agency of Education to work with childcare providers to identify and address funding gaps for emergency services for children of “essential persons,” according to the governor's office.
The governor defines "essential persons" as:
- Providers of healthcare including, but not limited to, workers at clinics, hospitals, Federally Qualified Health Centers, nursing homes, long-term care and post-acute care facilities, respite houses, VNAs, designated agencies and emergency medical services;
- Criminal justice personnel including those in law enforcement, courts, and correctional services;
- Public health employees;
- Vermont National Guard personnel called to duty for this response;
- Other first responders and state employees determined to be essential for response to this crisis under the State Emergency Operations Center; and
- Staff and providers of childcare and education services (including custodial and kitchen staff and other support staff) for children of other “essential persons.”
Some health care workers have struggled to care for children out of school while managing their stressful work during the outbreak.
There were 19 cases of coronavirus in Vermont as of Wednesday. Some 600 people had been tested for the disease.
"This is, literally, in our hands," Scott said. "We need everyone to accept this reality and be part of this effort. Slowing this down, or flattening the curve is the most important thing we can do."
Thus far, Scott has instituted measures limiting gatherings of more than 50 people, closed bars and restaurants aside from their takeout menus and dismissed schools in response to the coronavirus outbreak.