First, I've spent more time on Zoom calls in recent days than I care to admit. I have also heard from the legislature's IT staff that security for Zoom calls has been an issue in some instances (not yet in the legislature) where calls get "hijacked" by an uninvited participant. If you are conducting Zoom calls, particularly for public business, you might want to look at this Zoom security tutorial. It's written for non-techie Luddites like me.
Second, a couple of education items to share this evening. The legislature's Joint Fiscal Office has issued a summary document highlighting some of the extreme challenges that will be faced by the state's Education Fund and, in turn, local school budgets in the next year. Also, here is a document issued by the Agency of Education providing guidance on changes to the school year calendar and attendance policy.
Third, questions and concerns about the qualifications for unemployment insurance are one of the most frequent questions I get. This document is a very readable and detailed description of who qualifies for unemployment insurance consistent with the just passed federal Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The benefits are far more generous than the normal VT unemployment insurance benefits. As a reminder, to apply for UI, go to this link to apply online.
I don't know if this is news, but I fished it out of the footnotes of today's State Emergency Operations Center report: New VT unemployment insurance claims March 8-14 = 640; March 15-21 = 14,000; March 22-29 = 30,000. Vermont's civilian workforce is about 340,000 people. That means over 13% have applied for unemployment insurance in the last three weeks. Staggering.
Fourth, the Agency of Commerce and Community Development today put out a 40-page FAQ summary of the CARES Act. While it's really good reading, I'll spare you the document, but will share this nugget:
"STATE-LOCAL CORONAVIRUS RELIEF FUND: What can this money be used for? The Coronavirus Relief Fund makes available $150 billion to States, Indian tribes, territories and units of local government for necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to COVID-19. Eligible expenditures are those made between March 1, 2020, and December 30, 2020, and must not have been accounted for in the most recently approved budget. This funding is available directly to states and localities from Treasury and requires no state or local matching requirement. The Treasury Secretary has pledged to Leader Schumer that the funds will be deployed quickly and flexibly."
Fifth, the governor has put out a statewide call for medical volunteers and volunteers to help with childcare, food delivery, etc. The state volunteer website clearinghouse can be found here.
Sixth, the Attorney General's office today released a two-page document for the law enforcement community regarding incarceration decisions, which you may want to share with your police team. Also directed at our local police departments, Col. Birmingham of the VT State Police today put out guidance regarding the enforcement of the Governor's Executive Order, including the new restrictions regarding lodging. Here is a link to Col. Birmingham's email providing that guidance.
Have a good evening,