This week Vermont Governor Phil Scott announced that people entering Vermont needed to self-quarantine for two weeks to protect the state’s essential frontline workers and medical personnel.
At an April 1 press conference, Scott said that state personnel are monitoring major roads into the state merely for the purpose of checking the color of the license plates. Plate numbers are not being recorded, he said.
Locally, there have been concerns expressed via phone, email and social media about people fleeing places where the COVID-19 virus is extensive for the relative calm of Vermont. People have expressed concern that those coming in are not following the governor’s order to self-quarantine for 14 days. And there have been questions raised about how the governor’s order will be enforced.
Two local business owners, who are on the front lines themselves, are trusting people to behave in a socially responsible manner and follow the CDC guidelines for social distancing, staying home and self-isolating if returning to the state, while trying to project some sense of normalcy.
Bruce Hyde Jr., of Mehuron’s in Waitsfield, said he wants people to take the CDC guidelines and the governor’s self-quarantine seriously. As for how he and his staff are handling it, he said, “It’s going alright. We’ve settled into a new normal. We’re asking everybody to follow the CDC and state guidelines.”
He had high praise for his staff and their commitment to the community.
“Everybody who is showing up to work, they're doing it at a risk to themselves and they're doing it for the good of the community. It's pretty inspiring to see everybody showing up. Hopefully, we're getting close to the high water mark for Vermont in a month or two,” he said.
He said he’s been taking his guidance from the Vermont Department of Health and the CDC, rather than taking measures to limit the number of people in the store or install Plexiglas barriers.
“I offered to install barriers for our staff, but we all feel they aren’t as effective as masks and gloves. We’re grocers. Asking us to solve a health crisis, that’s not what we do,” he added.
WELCOMES ALL CUSTOMERS
He said he welcomes all of his customers and pointed out that second-home owners and visitors are the lifeblood of The Valley and he wants everyone to follow the guidelines and take them seriously.
A mile or so further north on Main Street in Waitsfield Village, Troy Kingsury’s hardest problem is being able to find hand sanitizer for his staff. He said he hadn’t been able to get any until Candice White, Waitsfield, worked with Fred Messer to find some.
But he’s got commercial rolls of toilet paper in stock! He’s using bleach and water to clean and alcohol pads to wipe things down. He’s got gloves for the checkout crew as well as masks. Clerk Jim Moulton is taking two weeks off, Kingsbury said, but the others, Linda Johnson and his mother, Vicky Kingsbury, want to work. They have gloves and masks.
“I try to look at this logically. I understand that one in three people could get this and 80 percent won’t have symptoms while 20 percent will and 2 percent of those who have symptoms will need medical attention,” he said.
People who come in maintain appropriate distancing for the most part, he said.
“I’d say that out of 10 people, seven are taking it seriously, two people cautiously but not seriously, and one person thinks it’s a big government conspiracy,” Kingsbury said.
Kingsbury said he’s the weak link in his family because he is at the store every day. There’s an apartment over the store stocked with food and lots of the unique lamps he makes. Should he get ill he’s prepared to self-isolate there or make that space available to his employees or their family members if needed.
One thing people can do to keep frontline workers like grocery store clerks, mail clerks and medical personnel safer is to stay home and reduce the number of trips to all stores. The Mad River Valley Emergency Response Team is proposing a Neighbors Shopping for Neighbors program, asking people who plan to shop to check with their neighbors, checking to see if they need something.
NEIGHBORS SHOPPING FOR NEIGHBORS
The Neighbors Shopping for Neighbors program asks all Valley residents to be in touch with their neighbors to support each other during COVID-19. This program encourages all residents to be in touch with their neighbors at this time and to see how they can help one another. Offer to be of help, or conversely, ask for help, to stay safe.
Those who would benefit from assistance from a neighbor are asked to call Lynn Barnes at 802-496-4746 and mention the Neighbors Shopping for Neighbors program.