It Ain’t Over

Though the governor, and others have made the political decision to lift the COVID-19 “emergency” declaration across Vermont, the pandemic is far from over – especially for Black and Brown folks.

The state of Vermont has peaked to record highs in the number of cases over the last couple of weeks. Numbers from the Vermont Health Department and Worldometer (a global statistical analysis organization) are among those reporting this as fact. A report from VTDigger this week reinforces this reality in Vermont. We all know that the economic decision to lift the emergency order hurts Black and Brown Vermonters first and worst given our disproportionate representation on the essential worker frontlines and higher propensity to reside in multi-generational housing. The social and economic consequences are also sure to impact us longer.

Yet still no emergency. Vermont is amongst upwards of two-dozen states that have allowed emergency orders to lapse. According to Ballotpedia, these orders,

“allowed officials to access resources unavailable to them during non-emergencies, like stockpiles of medical goods and equipment, and temporarily waive or suspend certain rules and regulations. Governors and state agencies relied on emergency power authority to enact lockdown and stay-at-home ordersmask mandates, and other restrictions on businesses and individuals.”

Ballotpedia – State emergency health orders during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2021

Ballotpedia – State emergency health orders during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2021

As indicated in this VTDigger article, Black folks in Vermont continue to feel the brunt of this decision.

The Vermont Racial Justice Alliance has joined AALV, USCRI-VT, Winooski School District and School District of Health Office and the Cities of Winooski and Burlington in a request that the Health Department:

  • Continue funding for anchor institutions that support VDH and fill in gaps in services provided
  • Increase Contact Tracing Services & Quarantine Support
  • Expand PCR Testing capacity to reduce the wait time for results
  • Ensure equitable access to information and resources for Vermonters who don’t speak English as a primary language.

We further call on the State, the City of Burlington and all municipalities to use a whole of government approach and employ every tool at their disposal, up to and including emergency powers to ensure the safety of all whom thy serve – especially those who are most vulnerable. Vermont’s recent prioritization of the BIPOC community for booster vaccinations is but one step in this direction but there is much more to do.

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