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MONTPELIER, Vt. — Vermont Gov. Phil Scott extended the state of emergency Friday, including the stay-at-home order, through May 15 to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.
His action extends all corresponding orders and directives issued in response to the pandemic and comes even as disease models prepared for the state are being revised downward.
Current forecasts estimate that the state will not, as previously feared, run short of intensive care beds, protective equipment or ventilators used to treat the most critically ill COVID-19 patients.
When the data shows it is safe to do so, the state will begin to reopen the economy “a quarter turn at a time,” Scott said.
The state is now allowing lodging establishments to begin taking reservations for June 15 and thereafter with the understanding that the situation could change.
“We are not declaring victory at this point in time, I want to make that perfectly clear. In fact, quite the opposite,” Scott said Friday at his regular news briefing.
“The more successful we are with this social distancing and all the measures we are taking, the more it’s going to look like we overreacted,” Scott said. “I’ll take the blame and the burden of that over the alternative path, where we have more deaths than we had predicted.”
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and the infirm, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.
The Vermont Department of Corrections said Friday that 32 inmates and 14 staff members at the state prison in Swanton have tested positive for COVID-19. A total of 328 inmates and staff were tested and not all the results were in by late Friday afternoon, the department said.
Twenty-eight of the infected inmates were moved to the St. Johnsbury prison, where they will be isolated until they recover and four were in negative pressure cells at the Northwest State Correctional Facility.
The 14 staff were told to quarantine at home or at a hotel.
The prison remains in full lock-down, while the state’s other prisons are on modified lock-down.
Protective masks have been delivered to all the prisons for both inmates and staff.