Opinion: Stay home, Vermont


Illustration by Zoe Maxwell

Anna Huener, Staff Writer

I grew up in Burlington, Vermont, amidst maple syrup, hippies, and endless beautiful scenery. I love the state and its people, and I care deeply about its community. However, because I love our state and its people, and we are in the midst of the devastating Covid-19 pandemic, I urge us all to stop exploring and having fun for the time being. I urge us to pause and instead watch the state from afar: inside our houses, apartments, or from our car windows. We must prioritize Vermont and its population. This winter, we must stay home.

On November 13, Governor Phil Scott issued an ordinance ordering Vermonters to halt multi-family gatherings, and closing bars and social clubs. This order was a direct response to the rise of Covid cases that surfaced in November. Initially, I was shocked. I had convinced myself that the lockdown was done, forgotten, and never to happen again. Yet, here we were, eight months later, retreating into our homes. For me, many emotions resurfaced: anxiety, disappointment, and frustration at the world. It was aggravating to see all this new freedom taken away after only a few months. But aggravation isn’t going to do anything to stop the virus or lower the cases in our small state. The best way to help, in this situation, is to do nothing at all.

Covid has been devastating for the majority of the United States, and for the most part, Vermont has been excluded from this chaos. However, we’ve let our guard down, and are seeing consequences: Vermonters are testing positive at rates higher than we’ve seen even in the early months of the Covid outbreak. Covid cases this summer were in the single digits, now we face an average of 100-150 new cases each day. The recent rise in local cases has the potential to destroy our community: the coming weeks will be crucial for Vermont. Our mindsets from summer were appropriate for the time, but new circumstances require harsher actions and perspectives. 

I urge us all as Vermonters to consider our morals and what makes us unique as a state and community. We’re known for progressive thinking, as well as compassion and acceptance. This attitude has helped us so far with the pandemic and can continue to do so.  We’re all responsible for our own actions, no matter how seemingly insignificant they may be. Often, we can get carried away in our own experiences: the closing of our favorite restaurant, inability to use an office, or the cancellation of a junior prom. The absence of things that make us happy is frustrating, and understandably so. However, focusing only on these personal experiences can prompt the perception of the pandemic as an inconvenience rather than an imminent threat to millions. 

Governor Phil Scott can issue many regulations, but ultimately, our individual actions will determine the outcome of this virus. We, the students, and the parents, and the elderly, and the adults. Our job and our responsibility is to listen and to adhere to Vermont’s regulations. In fact, our job is to go above and beyond. Wear a mask every second outside your house. Stop seeing your friends. Opt out of eating at restaurants, and order takeout instead. 

Every second we spend in our summer mindsets is a push farther into an irreversible effect on Vermont and its community. The next weeks will determine our fate, and either save or take the lives of many. We are under pressure, and very much responsible for whatever occurs. Our actions in the summer prolonged a sense of false security, which desperately needs reevaluation. We need to do better, and we are capable of doing so. The Vermont I know and love is thoughtful, united, and resilient: not even a pandemic can break us down. Stay home, Vermont. We’ll get through this together.