Week 2 of the legislative session continued its accelerated pace with the passage of the first piece of legislation through both the House and the Senate. H.48 provides municipalities flexibility when determining how and when to hold Town Meeting and associated votes to protect the health and safety of Vermonters. The legislation is awaiting the Governor’s signature.
I am excited to be serving Essex Junction with Representative Karen Dolan this session. As she indicated in last week’s update, she is serving on the House Corrections and Institutions committee and I remain Ranking Member on the House Healthcare committee. Please reach out if we can answer questions or if you have thoughts on policy as we move through this session.
This past week the House Healthcare committee held two joint sessions with the House Human Services committee and the Senate Health & Welfare committee. These joint sessions were extremely productive last year has we worked through the necessary pandemic emergency legislation and I’m grateful we are continuing with these effective meetings. On Wednesday we received an update on the pandemic and vaccinations from Commission Mark Levine of the VT Department of Health. Dr. Levine indicated that we are “completely at the mercy of the federal government.” when it comes to receiving vaccines. We have been receiving only 8,000-9,000 vaccines per week, largely due to delays in distribution (not manufacturing). With the current limited supply of doses, the State has adopted a strategy of focusing on older Vermonters, one of the larger demographics for whom COVID-19 is most deadly. At this rate, with approximately 125,000 Vermonters over the age of 65, we are still many months from completing this next phase of vaccine distribution.
On Wednesday staff from the Agency of Human Services and other community organizations provided updates on the distribution of the 2020 COVID relief funds. I’ve linked both sessions below:
Testimony Commission of Health: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYX-A-ZpbzI&t=1665s
Testimony Agency of Human Services: Joint Meeting with Senate Health and Welfare, House Health Care, House Human Services 01-14-2021-01 - YouTube
Vermonters age 75 + will be able to register for vaccines starting on January 25 through an online registration tool. Although there will also be a call center, Agency of Human Services Secretary Mike Smith is urging people to use the forthcoming online system. During the Governor’s press conference Friday he urged family or friends to help older Vermonters with accessing the online registration tool.
Stay updated on vaccine distribution through the VT Dept of Health website at www.healthvermont.gov/covid-19/vaccine
FOOD DISTRIBUTION EVENT on Saturday, January 23 at 12:00 noon in the Champlain Elementary parking lot (800 Pine Street, Burlington). Anyone in need is welcome and encouraged to come. Reusable bags will be filled with a gallon of cool milk, eggs, staples including beans, tuna, pasta, local Vermont bread, tasty treats, fresh produce, and other items. Additionally, each food package includes a GIFT CARD to a local supermarket provided by local sponsors.
Many thanks to the dedicated volunteers and generous supporters, including Great Harvest, Full Moon Farm, City Market, Market 32, Cheese & Wine Traders, and the City of Burlington!
FREE EWSD WEEKEND MEAL PICK UP EACH FRIDAY
Every Friday EWSD will offer free meals for all children 18. This service will be available from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. at the Essex High School guidance lobby (to the right of the main entrance). Please wear a mask and practice social distancing. Copy and paste this link for more details https://www.ewsd.org/Page/294
Please continue wearing masks, washing hands and practicing physical distancing. If you or someone you know needs help during this difficult time, please reach out to Representative Dolan or I and we will do our best to connect you with appropriate services.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or KNDolan@leg.state.vt.us.
Please be kind to each other and yourself.
Rep. Lori Houghton