At a Warren Select Board meeting on Tuesday, May 11, select board members heard a COVID update from emergency management director Jeff Campbell and discussed the transition to back to in-person select board meetings and office work given the decline of COVID in the state.
“Obviously COVID numbers have been dropping over the past couple weeks,” said Campbell, who reported that Warren, Waitsfield and Moretown had no new cases over the past two weeks. In the state as a whole, Campbell reported that there are 59 active cases. Among those cases, 16 Vermonters hospitalized, with two in the ICU that day.
The state is also increasing pop-up vaccination locations. Several of these pop-up vaccination sites will be in and around The Valley this Saturday, May 15. One site is going to be in the Warren Municipal Office parking lot, while the others will be in towns surrounding The Valley, including Granville, Duxbury, Waterbury and Stowe.
For those not interested in getting vaccinated at a pop-up site, Campbell noted that appointments can be made at a variety of drug stores, including Kinney Drugs, Walgreens, CVS, Northfield Pharmacy or UVM Medical Center outpatient pharmacies.
Campbell also reported statistics on Vermont’s vaccination success. Specifically, he reported that 96.6% of Vermonters aged 65 and over have been partially or fully vaccinated. Vermont ranks third in the country percentage wise in vaccinations only behind Connecticut and Maine.
With these hopeful COVID statistics in mind, the board discussed another COVID-related change: returning to in-person meetings. First, select board chair Andrew Cunningham pointed out one benefit of having Zoom access to meetings: the local public television station, MRVTV, doesn’t have to commute to the town office to record meetings. “They can do it over Zoom,” said Cunningham.
However, he also noted that if the town wants to continue offering Zoom access to meetings while the board members meet in person, the board will need to find a way to make sure all board members can be seen and heard over Zoom. “We need to be able to see people,” said Cunningham.
“We need a camera,” said select board member Bob Ackland.
Cunningham suggested that the board purchase a hybrid-friendly camera as soon as possible, since COVID restrictions might drop sooner than expected. “From what the governor said today, we will hit July 4 markers by June 1,” said Cunningham.
Ackland agreed: “If we can meet in person, we’ll have better meetings.”
As for bringing municipal workers back to the office, the board will consider hybrid-working options. Warren town treasurer Dayna Lisaius advocated for more work-from-home hours.
“I am amazed by how much I get done at home,” she said.
“It’s definitely something we have to explore. I think hybrid is where most people are going,” said select board member Camilla Behn.
In addition to COVID-related discussion, the board approved a $342,380 paving bid from Frank W Whitcomb Construction for Roxbury Mountain Road and Dump Road. The paving will start this summer. “It’s looking like late July, early August,” said Cunningham