Vermont governor orders non-essential businesses to close

MARSHFIELD, Vt. (AP) — Gov. Phil Scott on Tuesday ordered in-person operations of non-essential businesses to close and for Vermonters to stay home to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus as the number of deaths in the state rose by two to seven and confirmed cases increased to 95.

“I want to be very clear about this: We need everyone to limit activities outside of the home and to practice social distancing at all times to slow the spread of this highly contagious and potentially deadly virus,” he said in a written statement.

All businesses and not-for-profit entities not exempted must suspend all in-person business operations by Wednesday at 5 p.m., the governor said. Online or phone operations, or sales through curbside pickup or delivery only, can continue, he said. Grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, and health care operations and news media are exempt.

Five of the deaths have been linked to the Burlington Health & Rehab care facility. About 10 short-term patients of the facility who do not have symptoms are being moved to adapted rooms at the DoubleTree by Hilton motel in Burlington, where they will get care from University of Vermont Medical Center clinicians, the Health Department said.

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus.

A look at more developments related to the coronavirus:

OVERFLOW MEDICAL FACILITIES

The Vermont National Guard is helping to set up three overflow medical facilities as the state prepares for an increase in patients due to the new coronavirus. The facilities will be at Gutterson Fieldhouse at the University of Vermont, the Barre Municipal Auditorium and Collins Perley Sports and Fitness Center in St. Albans, the Guard said Tuesday. The sites will be for the least sick who can be moved out of hospitals safely.

Vermonters should prepare for more restrictions to help stem the pandemic that is sweeping the state and the world, Gov. Phil Scott said Monday.

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PRISON EMPLOYEE

An employee at the Newport prison has tested positive for COVID-19, the Department of Corrections said.

The employee, who was last at work on March 17, did not have contact with inmates at the Northern State Correctional Facility and no inmates have tested positive for the disease, the department said Monday. Prison staff cleaned the area where the employee worked and increased messaging to remaining staff and inmates about hand-washing and hygiene.

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NEWSPAPERS

Seven Days in Burlington has laid off seven people due to a drop in advertising caused by the coronavirus, the weekly newspaper reported. One person was laid off from each department, publisher and co-founder Paula Routly said on Monday, adding that she hoped to rehire those workers in 10 weeks.

The Rutland Herald and Times Argus announced on Saturday that they had to temporarily cut back operations and lay off staff because of the loss of advertising due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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