Daily Archives: January 8, 2021

Dr. Levine Susan Collinses the CovidCruiser

Friday’s Scott-free* Covid briefing featured multiple questions about the CovidCruiser, which took a busload of Vermonters down to Washington for Wednesday’s pro-Trump rally turned riot. And the answers revealed a surprisingly laissez-faire attitude toward the dozens of participants who were clearly shown violating public health guidelines. During a 10-hour one-way trip in an enclosed space, which seemed ideal for superspreading.

*The governor was not present. His absence had been planned for days; it was not an attempt to duck questions about the Trump-encouraged D.C. riots.

Essentially, the state wagged its finger at the travelers.

Health commissioner Dr. Mark Levine labeled the trip as “a high risk enterprise,” and said the state issued very clear guidance on testing, mask wearing, social distancing and quarantining requirements upon returning to Vermont. But, he added, “we don’t really have the regulatory power to enforce somebody being quarantined when they are not yet a [Covid-19] case… But we’ve been very strong with the information about quarantining and testing.”

He didn’t specifically say he was concerned or disappointed, but he was obviously following the Susan Collins approach to non-ideal developments.

Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling was asked if the state had obtained a list of travelers, for purposes of communication and possible contact tracing. “We do not have a comprehensive list of the folks that were on the bus,” he replied. He said the state had no intention to get such a list. He added that the state did contact the bus company, which “graciously agreed to make an announcement to all of the folks that were on the bus to reinforce the quarantine guidelines.”

In all, a remarkably passive response to a clear superspreader threat. I mean, you’ve got a busload of people who were clearly shown on video riding in close proximity with nary a mask in sight. I’d think that would warrant a more robust response. Not mandatory quarantining, but getting that list and closely following the occupants for signs of illness. And something more than a mere suggestion to get tested.

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House Republicans Choose Sides, and Most Have Chosen Wisely

Lovely architecture provides an outstanding backdrop. Loses a couple points for lighting. 8/10

A resolution condemning the Capitol riot of January 6 and calling for President Trump’s resignation or removal passed the Vermont House today on a one-sided vote. Seven Days reported the tally as 130 to 6. VTDigger reported 130 to 16. But it was a voice vote, so I’m not sure where the numbers come from. All the “No” votes were cast by Republicans, but represent a small percentage of the GOP caucus.

There was apparently no floor debate. But there was some discussion of the resolution earlier in the day, at a House Republican caucus meeting captured on video. A total of eight lawmakers spoke in opposition, which again calls into question the 130 to 6 tally. Those eight do not include Rutland Rep. Tom Terenzini, who didn’t speak in caucus but opposed the measure as well. I count at least nine “No” votes.

So who are they? Reps. Lisa Hango, Patrick Brennan, Carl Rosenquist, Brian Smith, Lynn Batchelor, Vicky Strong, Mark Higley, Rodney Graham and Terenzini. (Two members, Reps. Bob Helm and Art Peterson, made remarks that did not disclose how they would vote.) We’ll get to their statements after the jump.

Several Republicans voiced strong support for the measure, most notably Reps. Felisha Leffler, Scott Beck, Lynn Dickinson and Scheuermann. Referring to the rioters, Scheuermann said, “What they were doing was appalling. I was ashamed. I thought it critical for us to do this as a body.”

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