State employees able to telework can do so through December

State employees who can work remotely should expect to do so at least through the end of the year, the Vermont Agency of Administration said Thursday.

“Doing our part to help Vermont continue to limit the spread of COVID-19, while continuing to provide critical services to Vermonters remains our top priority, and flexible work schedules and worksites are key to that mission,” Administration Secretary Susanne Young said in a statement. “While other aspects of daily life may remain uncertain, it is important that we provide state employees with some certainty about the expectation for when and how they return to their office settings.”

Young said the majority of state employees surveyed informally by several agencies and departments about their remote work experience reported that they can complete 100% of their work from home. They said telework provided the flexibility needed to balance childcare, work schedules and other challenges presented by the pandemic.

The agency said state employees will receive an update on or before Nov. 1 regarding any further extension of the telework directive.

Other coronavirus-related developments in Vermont:

HOSPITALS-BUDGETS

Vermont's nonprofit hospitals, which are facing financial challenges because of the coronavirus pandemic, have filed budget requests with the Green Mountain Care Board for the coming fiscal year.

The hospitals are asking regulators for increases in charges to achieve operating margins that range between zero and 2.5%.

“Each of our hospitals has a unique story to tell but collectively, this request is about ensuring all of them can continue to be there – and ready to care – every minute of every day,” said Jeff Tieman, President and CEO of the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems. He said in less than three months, hospitals lost $221 million, and “even with federal grant dollars of just over $134 million, they lost ground on many fronts in the current fiscal year."

Tieman said, “we must prioritize recovery."

Claudio Fort, president and CEO of Rutland Regional Medical Center, told the Rutland Herald its budget projects that the hospital will not perform as many procedures as last year, partially because COVID screening steps slow down the ability to process people through the health care system.

To make up for the loss of revenue, Rutland Regional officials have applied for a 6% increase in rates and prices.

Fort said last year, the request was for an increase of less than 3%. He said it had been many years since the hospital had asked for an increase as high as this year’s request.

Public hearings on the hospital budgets are scheduled to start on Aug. 18.

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THE NUMBERS

Vermont reported nine new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, for a total of 1,445 statewide since the pandemic began. There was one new death, for total number of 58 deaths. One person was hospitalized with COVID-19.