MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A school district in Vermont's Orange County is concerned about families not complying with quarantine rules after a cluster of coronavirus cases turned up in the district that serves Randolph, Braintree and Brookfield.
The Orange Southwest School District has moved to remote learning but is encountering apathy from some people contacted during contact tracing, WCAX-TV reported. Superintendent Layne Millington estimates about a third of the families that were called discounted concerns about possible exposure or exposing others to the virus that causes COVID-19.
“Didn’t care, is probably a good expression for a lot of them,” Millington told WCAX-TV. “And then, we had at least one family that had positive cases that said they were going to be noncompliant with the quarantine.”
Gov. Phil Scott says the state can impose penalties for people unwilling to comply with contact tracing requirements but he's reluctant to do that.
“We don’t want to use our limited resources in public safety to go after people,” he said. “We’re asking people to tell the truth to protect others. I don’t think it’s tattling on anyone, and I am not sure it’s all about the kids. The parents play a role in this as well.”
On Tuesday, Scott announced that when children return to school next week after Thanksgiving, they will be asked whether they attended gatherings outside their households. Any students who attended events with more than just their immediate household will be required to take online classes for a two-week quarantine period, or to quarantine for a week and then have a negative COVID-19 test, Scott said.
In other news related to the coronavirus:
UNEMPLOYMENT PHISHING SCAM
The Vermont Department of Labor is urging Vermonters filing for unemployment insurance to watch out for a phishing scam that uses texts and emails touting fraudulent COVID-19 related benefits.
The senders of the messages have fraudulently stated that “eligible workers” could “receive COVID-19” benefits from the department, officials said Tuesday. The messages wrongly state that the department will pay eligible workers $3,750 for COVID-19 benefits and compensation and provide links to register.
Officials urged Vermonters applying for benefits to only use the department’s website and sub-pages.
The Labor Department said it was working with the state information technology security team, the Vermont attorney general’s office, state police and multiple federal law enforcement agencies to deal with the phishing attempts.
Vermonters are urged to report any fraud to the Labor Department and attorney general’s office.
Vermont reported 81 new cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday for a statewide total to date of 3,827 cases.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Vermont has risen over the past two weeks from 32.14 new cases per day on Nov. 10 to 94 new cases per day on Nov. 24.
There were 20 people hospitalized with COVID-19 on Wednesday, including five in intensive care.
Sixty-four people have died from the virus.