3 workers infected at Vermont prison; governor seeks federal aid

One inmate at the Northwest State Correctional Facility in Swanton is being monitored with symptoms of COVID-19, and the prison is on a complete lockdown after three staff members tested positive for the illness, the Department of Corrections said Tuesday.

The inmate with symptoms has been isolated from other inmates and is being monitored in a special room, said Al Cormier of the Department of Corrections, who briefed the press on the situation.

The most recent of the infected staff members had contact with inmates and was last in the facility on Friday.

The inmates are mostly being held two to a cell, where they are being fed. They are only allowed out for emergencies and hygiene, although efforts are being made to allow inmates out on a limited basis for exercise.

“We are messaging the importance of hand sanitizing, around cleaning, around hand washing, about reporting symptoms,” Cormier said.

Inmates in St. Albans and at other Vermont prisons are being issued cloth masks with a goal of eventually giving each inmate three masks so they can be washed every day.

Inmates’ temperatures are being taken three times a day, and staff members are being tested when they arrive for work.

Another staff member at the Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport tested positive for the disease last month.

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NUMBERS

As of Tuesday, 575 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in Vermont, and 23 people have died.

The Vermont Health Department on Tuesday rolled out a new website that provides more details about the state’s COVID-19 cases, including the number of deaths by county.

Essex County is now Vermont’s only county without a reported case of COVID-19.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

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EMERGENCY AID REQUEST

Gov. Phil Scott has requested federal aid to help Vermont pay for its response to COVID-19. If approved the assistance would provide a 75% reimbursement to state and local governments and some nonprofit groups, his office said Tuesday.

“The COVID-19 disaster is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and the affected local governments,” Scott said in a letter to President Donald Trump requesting the aid.

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FOREIGN SKI WORKERS STRANDED

More than 30 foreign seasonal workers at Jay Peak ski resort are stranded due to the new coronavirus. The guest workers from South America and the Caribbean cannot return home because of restrictions on border crossings and flights to slow the spread of the virus, the Caledonian Record reported.

Most of them are from Peru, which is allowing one weekly flight from the U.S. to return Peruvian nationals. A dozen Jay employees flew home this week.

In the meantime, Jay Peak executives have waived the workers’ housing costs, conducted health and wellness checks on them and eliminated long-distancing calling fees.

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