More economic relief for businesses; hockey outbreak at 35

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — An additional $76 million in federal relief is available to Vermont businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.

State officials announced the expansion of the state's economic recovery grants on Tuesday during Gov. Phil Scott's biweekly virus briefing.

Scott said the pandemic has taken a “tremendous toll” on the hospitality industry, which employs about 30,000 Vermonters and generates billions of dollars in revenue, according to the Brattleboro Reformer.

“It’s critical we do what we can to help our hardest-hit employers, so they can survive this pandemic. Because the fact is we’re going to need them to have a strong recovery. We also know what we’ve done so far isn’t enough," Scott said.

Businesses may receive up to $300,000 in grants, which includes the new grant and others combined.

Businesses that collect room and meal taxes or sales and use taxes may apply through the Tax Department while others may apply through the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, officials said. In this latest round sole proprietorships and new businesses without a full year of revenue to compare to 2020 earnings may receive funds, said Economic Development Commissioner Joan Goldstein.

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HOCKEY OUTBREAK

An outbreak linked to a Montpelier ice rink has grown to 35 confirmed COVID-19 cases, a Health Department spokesman said Wednesday.

Contract tracing shows that the virus appears to have spread through activities such as carpooling, travel and socializing, rather than the sporting activities of hockey and broomball at the Central Vermont Memorial Civic Center, Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine has said.

Cases at two Vermont schools — Union Elementary School and Oxbow High School — can be traced to the civic center, he said Tuesday, according to mchamplainvalley.com.

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THE NUMBERS

Vermont reported 16 new cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday. That brings the statewide total to 1,971 cases since the pandemic began. One person was hospitalized with COVID-19, according to the Health Department. The total number of deaths has remained at 58 since late July. Seven of the new cases were in Chittenden County, three each were in Washington and Windsor counties, and one each in Bennington, Windham and Orleans counties.