Scott to Quarantine After Potential COVID-19 Exposure at Press Conference | Off Message

Scott to Quarantine After Potential COVID-19 Exposure at Press Conference

By

Gov. Phil Scott and Health Commissioner Mark Levine at a previous briefing - FILE: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Gov. Phil Scott and Health Commissioner Mark Levine at a previous briefing
Gov. Phil Scott and Vermont Health Commissioner Mark Levine will quarantine and be tested for the coronavirus after a "contractor" who worked at two recent press conferences tested positive for COVID-19.

"The briefings are conducted under state guidance, with safety protocols, including physical distancing, in place," the governor's office announced Tuesday evening in a statement. But "out of an abundance of caution," administration officials who attended press conferences on January 15 and 19 will quarantine, while Scott will continue to fulfill his duties remotely "until further notice."

Scott has hosted the regular press briefings at the Pavilion Auditorium on State Street in Montpelier at least twice a week since the pandemic began. His office said roughly 17 people attended both briefings in question. Among the typical attendees are several administration officials and staffers from Scott's office, a handful of broadcast journalists and at least one certified American Sign Language interpreter. Two interpreters worked Tuesday's briefing.



State contact tracers have begun investigating the incident and will reach out to anyone identified as a close contact, or those who spent more than 15 minutes within six feet or less of the positive case. Scott's office has also reached out to everyone at the briefings.

Neither Scott nor Levine has been vaccinated; Scott's spokesperson told VTDigger.org last month that both he and Levine planned to wait for their turn in Vermont's vaccine rollout. The state expects to begin vaccinating people above the ages of 75 starting the week of January 25. Scott is 62; Levine is 67.

Scott's spokespeople did not immediately return questions about whether regular press conference attendees receive COVID-19 tests, or whether the contractor was symptomatic. And it was not immediately clear when the contractor was last tested for the virus.

Scott's press briefing on Tuesday lasted two hours and concluded around 1 p.m., five hours before the press release went out.