Republican Gov. Phil Scott on Friday proposed using $133 million more in federal coronavirus relief funding to help businesses and others recover from the pandemic.

The proposal, which requires legislative approval, would devote $23 million to expand the economic recovery grant program and $50 million for hospitality and tourism grants. An additional $50 million would be used to give every Vermont household $150 as part of a buy-local campaign and $10 million would go to economic development and tourism marketing.

“The reality is we don’t have the luxury of waiting for a vaccine because employers are making decisions right now about whether to fight to stay open or shutter their doors for good,” Scott said at his regular virus briefing.

The economic recovery grant program would be expanded to sole proprietors and partnerships, certain nonprofits, very new businesses, and businesses with less than 50% losses over three months, said Lindsay Kurrle, secretary of the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development.

The hospitality grants would help the lodging and food and service industries where revenues are down about 90% from previous years, she said.

“These hard hit sectors need more support,” Kurrle said.

To date, more than $100 million in economic recovery grants has been awarded to more than 3,500 businesses around Vermont, she said.



Vermont reported four new cases of the coronavirus on Friday, for a statewide total since the pandemic began of 1,541. The total number of deaths remained at 58. Three people were hospitalized with COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.

This week, Vermont reported 61 new coronavirus cases, up from 39 new cases last week.

“We did have a considerable influx of college students start to arrive and when you look at our testing numbers the tests conducted over the last seven days were the greatest number of tests we’ve conducted since the start of the pandemic,” said Michael Pieciak, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation, who is managing Vermont’s COVID-19 data.

About a dozen college students have tested positive this month, said Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine.

“This is expected as new students are arriving and campuses have increased testing efforts,” he said, adding that there was no ongoing transmission on any campus.

As of Friday, Vermont had the lowest positivity rate in the country and continues to have the lowest case count per capita from the start of the pandemic and in the last seven days, Pieciak said.



The state is aware of two positive coronavirus test results reported at long-term care facilities, one at Wake Robin in Shelburne and the other at Helen Porter Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Middlebury, said Human Services Secretary Mike Smith. The results came from facility-wide testing, he said.

“We may do some retesting on some of these just to reconfirm,” he said.

Epidemiological teams are making calls, getting contact information and trying to make sure that these are contained, he said.