Olivia Gale, 10, from Dummerston, Vt., picks strawberries with her mother, Heidi White Gale, and grandmother, Stella White, at Duttons Berry Farm in Newfane, Vt., on Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (Kristopher Radder/The Brattleboro Reformer via AP)

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont businesses are going to be getting a break on the costs of their unemployment insurance, and people collecting unemployment benefits will be getting more money, Gov. Phil Scott said Tuesday.

Starting July 1, the Vermont Department of Labor will change its rate structure, reducing individual employers’ rates.

In the first full week of July, the maximum benefit for people collecting unemployment will increase from $513 to $531.

The tax relief will help reduce the burden on employers who have had to make difficult decisions to protect the health and safety of workers while limiting the spread of COVID-19 in Vermont, the Republican governor said in a statement.

“We know Vermonters made a tremendous economic sacrifice in order to respond to this virus, and we will continue to pull every lever we can to help workers and employers recover from this pandemic,” Scott said.

Labor Commissioner Michael Harrington said the lower rates were based on 2019 information and do not include the effects COVID-19 has had on the economy.

"Unfortunately, we will feel the impacts of COVID in the subsequent year and for years to come,” Harrington said.

In other coronavirus-related developments:


The Vermont Health Department says it is continuing to investigate a small cluster of COVID-19 cases in Windham County.

The state says similar investigations are becoming more common , especially as the state is opening up and more people are getting together with family and friends in their communities.

Deputy State Epidemiologist Laura Ann Nicolai said the cases are currently limited to a small number of people with familial connections. There does not appear to be additional community spread associated with this situation.

Citing privacy concerns, Nicolai would not provide additional details about the people found to be infected with COVID-19.

“We do want people to know that, as we do in all cases, we are identifying and contacting those at risk, facilitating testing and providing guidance for isolation or quarantine as appropriate,” she said in a statement distributed by the Health Department.

Health officials in Brattleboro held a testing clinic Sunday and they will continue testing Wednesday.



Bennington College, which closed its campus to the public in March amid the coronavirus pandemic, has reopened its outdoor public spaces, including walking trails, to visitors.

Visitors are asked to allow at least 6 feet (2 meters) of space between them and others and to wear a mask while interacting with other people on campus, the Bennington Banner reported Monday.

Parking is available at various sites for walkers and people using the tennis and basketball courts. The school is asking people to leash dogs and clean up after their pets.

All campus buildings remained closed the public.



Vermont on Tuesday reported one new case of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, and two people hospitalized with the disease.

To date, the state has had a total of 1,164 cases. The total number of people who have died of COVID-19 has remained at 56 for six days.

A total of 927 people have recovered from the illness and more than 59,000 have been tested, according to the Health Department.


Follow AP coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.