Local Reps Discuss Vermont's Covid-19 Response

VERMONT- It's been two weeks since Governor Phil Scott enacted his "Stay Home Stay Safe" order. Since then, it is expected that social distancing will extend past the original April 19th date given.

Some of Caledonia's legislatures had relatively positive reviews, with a couple of things having caught their eye while watching the state work on "flattening the curve."

Senator Joe Benning felt the state government's response was way ahead of the federal government, "the latter of which appeared to minimize the threat until quite recently." Benning did add that the federal government could invoke the Defensive Powers Act, which could help medical professionals get the right equipment, but both state and federal powers would "need to be on the same team."

Benning continued by pointing out how he liked how Phil Scott remains "patient and persistent in the face of fierce criticism from some who think we don't have a problem at all." 

Senator Jane Kitchel had high marks for Scott, praising the consistent briefings being held. Kitchel also liked how vermonters are taking initiative in following social distance guidelines and noticed "people wearing masks has increased drastically in the past couple of days."
Kitchel mentioned the difficulty the state has in waiting to receive federal money in order to manage the pandemic. "Uncertainty and anxiety and a desire of information that has yet to arrive," has been the main themes she has noticed when looking at where the state is currently in this pandemic.
When asked if she would like a more national approach to the pandemic, Kitchel explained that she would rather see more fast acting governors compared to "what we've been getting nationally compared to some governments."
Both senators had been impressed with schools finding ways to keep delivering food to kids in the Danville and Lyndon areas.

Representative Martha Feltus believes the state has acted to stay "ahead of the curve" and thinks offering unemployment insurance is important. Feltus did say that Vermont will probably deplete their trust fund saying "in the future, the public will have to realize that this fund will have to be built back up again."

Feltus mentioned how a national approach can help in some areas like closing businesses, but offered that "perhaps a regional approach is better... depending on the circumstances."

Representative Scott Beck preferred a state by state approach to help lessen the impact with "well-coordinated federal assistance." Beck also felt the Phil Scott and the Department of Health has ben transparent and communicating well to Vermonters.

Representative Kitty Toll believed Vermont acted swiftly. Toll also mentioned how the pandemic has "highlighted the need to have high-speed [internet] connection in all corners of the state," saying broadband is a "necessity." 

The loss of revenue across the state concerned Toll as well. Toll explained any financial assistance provided by the federal government can not be used to replace lost revenue. Toll mentioned how the guidelines on how Vermont can spend federal dollars received are still not one hundred percent clear, but said details should be out by April 12th.

When asked if she would like to see more of a national approach, Toll said "the size of the United States makes it very difficult," and thought "coordinating would be challenging." She expressed that she wouldn't want to see Vermont not be able to move forward due to other parts of the country not responding to the pandemic as much as Vermont has been doing currently.

Benning and Toll had both shared concerns about some Vermonters not taking the crisis seriously enough. Benning had been frustrated at "internet trolls" who try and dismiss the restrictive measures being taken. Toll did not agree with the mindset of anyone who, "thinks it wont happen to them."