Scott touts state’s pandemic response

MIDDLEBURY — Saturday was indeed a day of giving thanks and congratulations in Middlebury, as residents and visitors alike hailed the newly minted Lazarus Park and a downtown transformed by a just-completed tunnel project.

Gov. Phil Scott praised those responsible for the improvements, but also asked Vermonters in general to take a bow for their collective actions in battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a brief speech at Lazarus Park amid oppressive heat and humidity, Scott acknowledged a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases, largely associated with the aggressive Delta variant of the virus. But Scott said there’s ample reason for Vermonters to be proud and hopeful in spite of the COVID spike.

Vermont, he noted, continues to lead the nation with an 85% vaccination rate among the eligible population (ages 12 and older). The state has the lowest hospitalization rate in the country, with an average of 25 cases per day, he said. And only one-tenth of 1% of vaccinated Vermonters have contracted COVID-19, according to Scott.

“While the cases have picked up, it’s important for Vermonters to remember: We’re not Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, or any other state with significantly lower vaccination rates and significantly higher hospitalizations than Vermont,” he told a crowd wedged into Printer’s Alley, adjacent to the new park. “Because in Vermont, when you look beyond the headlines, you realize the data continues to show that vaccines are working.”

Scott said his administration will continue to be vigilant and will base future pandemic decisions on sound facts.

“Throughout the past 17 months, we’ve made all our decisions by watching the data, trusting the science, looking at the big picture, and knowing that nothing is black and white,” he said. “We’ve stuck with this approach, even when public pressure has called for different strategies, criticized our priorities, demanded more, or protested for less. Yet throughout, we’ve led the nation with our response, and we continue to lead today. That’s why we continue to monitor the data very closely, especially in recent weeks.”

Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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