Here you'll find our collection of reports on the coronavirus outbreak and local response, from January, February and March. Our most recent coverage is at https://www.caledonianrecord.com/news/recent-coronavirus-coverage/collection_c56580a8-7f7c-11ea-b0cd-732a2e7b3384.html

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LANCASTER, N.H. — Weeks Medical Center in Lancaster, like every other small rural hospital in the North Country of New Hampshire and the Northeast Kingdom in Vermont, is preparing for the surge of patients sickened by the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

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Passumpsic Bank, NEK Council on Aging, and NVRH have come together to help feed people in the community by providing non-perishable food items for “emergency bags.” The bags will be delivered by NEK Council on Aging volunteers. Pictured with all the boxes of food are Laura Valcour, director of Nutrition at NEK Council on Aging and Kevin Crawley, NVRH director of Nutrition and Food Service.

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Hospitals across the Northeast Kingdom and the North Country of New Hampshire continue to receive donations of personal protective equipment — known as PPEs — from businesses, organizations and individuals in reaction to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

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On Monday, almost a year to the day after reporting for duty as a U.S. Coast Guard fireman, Skylar Boutin participated in one of the nation’s most vital humanitarian missions in recent memory — escorting the Navy Hospital ship USNS Comfort to dock in New York City.

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LYNDON — An email sent out Thursday by the owner of a farmhouse inn/spa property on 10 acres advertising the property was for rent, under the header, “Escape the city!” said her email message was “insensitively worded,” but said COVID-19 is already here, and the sparse population in the Northeast Kingdom can offer space and the ability for people to social distance.

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MONTPELIER — The Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) has announced sector-specific guidance related to Gov. Phil Scott’s Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive Order. The guidance is intended to help Vermont businesses determine if some or all of their in-person business operations fall under the exemptions for those entities critical to public health and safety or economic and national security. For businesses who are not exempt, but can transition operations remotely with no in-person contact, can continue to operate under this order.

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LISBON — Since learning went virtual forcing students and teachers to interact over devices instead of in-person, the newspaper has been checking in with instructors and pupils across the region to see how it’s going: from Lisbon Regional School, high schooler Peyton Clark and her English teacher Carlene Gadpaee offered to share with readers.

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North Country Hospital nurses scrub and clean personal protection equipment in preparation for the next patient to be tested at the mobile testing site at the hospital in Newport City. Only those who have an appointment arranged for testing by a primary care doctor or the hospital and approved by the Vermont Department of Health are being tested as of now.

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MONTPELIER — Near lockdown measures across all facets of Vermont’s economy and civilian life will continue with sheltering in place orders and historic closures of most businesses and schools as the coronavirus pandemic continues to see rising cases here and nationwide.

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ST. JOHNSBURY — The Masonic Hall on the third floor of Catamount Arts center on Eastern Avenue has officially been transformed into a sewing factory to produce gowns and masks to supply the region’s health care workers.

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DERBY LINE — The historic main street shared by Derby Line, Vt. and Stanstead, Quebec has a gate on it that, if closed, would sever an iconic link between both countries.

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LYNDON CENTER — Lyndon Institute’s offer for a vacant dormitory, the Mathewson House, for use as a temporary homeless shelter is for families only, and not for the use of former guests of the overnight warming shelter located on Hospital Drive in St. Johnsbury, the school reported.

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Editor’s Note: The following anecdotes highlight some of the many acts of kindness people are seeing in the community during the coronavirus p…

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On Wednesday, March 25, 2020, DHHS announced 29 new positive test results for COVID-19. There have now been 137 cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in New Hampshire. The new cases are 12 adult males, 16 adult females, and one female under age 18. The new cases reside in Rockingham (14), Hillsborough County other than Manchester and Nashua (8), Strafford (2), Belknap (1), Grafton (1), and Merrimack (1) counties, and in the City of Manchester (2). Coos County remains the only New Hampshire county without a confirmed case.

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Vermont Gov. Phil Scott detailed the latest effort to slow a concerning rise of coronavirus cases at a Wednesday press conference during which officials indicated the state needs to at least double its number of hospital beds, ventilators and medical supplies to handle the potential number of cases.

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MANCHESTER, N.H. — The New Hampshire Food Bank, a program of Catholic Charities New Hampshire, is taking steps in preparation for an anticipated increase in food insecurity due to the statewide impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency. Along with increasing food purchasing, the New Hampshire Food Bank is working with agencies across the state to provide critical resources and to understand where the need is greatest. The New Hampshire Food Bank established a dedicated webpage, www.nhfoodbank.org/covid-19/, to provide a secure online portal for making donations, and also to keep employees, partners and clients informed.

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REGION — The North Country Public Health Emergency Preparedness Region has activated their Multi-Agency Coordinating Entity (MACE) due to the events surrounding the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This Regional Emergency Operations Group is comprised of multiple agency officials representing public health, healthcare, community health centers, municipal emergency managers, and other partners throughout the region. The purpose of this group is to provide public information and risk communication, resource management, and the coordination of activities in the North Country as it relates to this quickly evolving pandemic emergency.

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LEBANON, NH – Edward Merrens, MD, Chief Clinical Officer, shared updates about testing capabilities, mask usage, limiting staff entrances to the medical center, temperature screenings, the success of our fabric mask donations, and acknowledging that we are all trying to adapt during these unsettled times, on Tuesday.

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When the St. Johnsbury School Board last met in February, those in attendance gathered together to enjoy cake and wish a fond farewell to departing member and chairman Chris Wenger. On Monday, the board “met” for the first time since Town Meeting and since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Modeled on mutual aid systems in southern New Hampshire that involve volunteers doing grocery shopping for older residents most at risk for severe COVID-19 effects and therefore advised to keep their distance from people, a similar mutual aid effort in the North Country has sprung up.

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BURKE — For friends Macy Moore, 12, and Addalyn Leslie, 10, learning from home now means getting used to lots of emails, learning to use new technology to complete assignments , and sleeping in a bit later.

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U.S. Attorney Christina E. Nolan has announced that her office will prioritize the investigation and prosecution of fraud schemes, and other crime related to COVID-19 that seek to exploit the public or harm the vulnerable during this national health emergency. U.S. Attorney Nolan urged the public to report suspected fraud schemes related to COVID-19 (the Coronavirus) by calling the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline (1-866-720-5721) or emailing the NCDF at disaster@leo.gov.

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In an update to Littleton selectmen on Monday, Littleton Regional Healthcare’s medical director gave the state of COVID-19 in the community and said tests could be available at LRH in the coming weeks and LRH could serve as a National Guard hospital if needed.

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Across the region — and the country and world — volunteers are at their sewing machines, kids helping to wash, cut and iron fabric, and people are begging for elastic to help crank out thousands of fabric masks.

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LEBANON, NH – The concept of social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19 has left the community, and the 490 Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) volunteers, feeling unsure how they can help during this time of need. As critical supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) dwindles across the country, there has been a national movement of volunteers who have started to sew masks for hospital staff and patients.

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As ever-more-urgent recommendations from government and health officials advocate for people to avoid in-person interaction, local governments have grasped for a way to continue functioning in a safe manner while abiding by constitutional requirements ensuring open meetings and access to records.

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Exercising coronavirus caution means most area worship centers have suspended services that weekly unite scores of people in worship, and church leaders lament the loss of community.

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Gov. Phil Scott has called on Vermonters to help protect our most vulnerable ¬– the elderly and the very ill ¬– and announced several strategies to help slow the spread of the new coronavirus. Gov. Scott declared a state of emergency to help ensure Vermont has all the necessary resources to respond to this evolving threat. Read the executive order

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MONTPELIER — Today the Vermont Public Utility Commission (“Commission”) directed the state’s regulated utilities to stop any disconnection of residential utility service due to nonpayment of electricity, natural gas, and telecommunications bills. This moratorium on involuntary utility disconnections will last until at least April 30.

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Editor’s note: As children adjust to being homebound due to restrictions from the coronavirus, some people are offering tips for time well-spent.

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LEBANON, NH – Yesterday, the White House announced a call-to-action for anyone who can donate any expendable personal protective equipment (PPE) to address the nationwide shortages that healthcare providers are facing. Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health (D-HH) echoes the urgent local need and requests donations of masks, face shields, isolation gowns, gloves and hand sanitizer.

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LYNDONVILLE — As of 2 p.m. on Tuesday, St. Patrick’s Day, a traditionally very busy day at restaurants and bars, sit-down dining and pub business came grinding to a halt across Vermont.

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Three days after a state of emergency was declared in New Hampshire to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus, health care, emergency response and school officials across the North Country met for a conference call Monday to work out the logistics of a regional emergency response if it becomes necessary.

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ST. JOHNSBURY — In light of ever more stringent measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus, senior meal sites across the region started implementing drastic changes to their operations and indicated more help may be needed to meet an increased demand for Meals on Wheels service.

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DERBY LINE/STANSTEAD, Quebec — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday that the Canadian border will be closed effective Wednesday to almost all travelers, with some exceptions, including American citizens.

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MONTPELIER, VT — On March 16, the Vermont Supreme Court declared a Judicial Emergency due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. The Emergency will extend until April 15, unless further extended by order of the Court. Notwithstanding any rule or timeline inconsistent with the Emergency Order, all non-emergency Superior Court hearings, whether evidentiary or non-evidentiary, will be postponed. The Order cites specific exceptions for high-priority cases that must be heard. All Judicial Bureau hearings are postponed.

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With Sunday’s announcement that Vermont Gov. Phil Scott ordered all public schools to prepare to close no later than Wednesday and remain closed at least until April 6, local schools – public and private – announced their plans for the coming days.

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In efforts to reduce the risk of exposure of residents and town employees, the St Johnsbury Select Board authorized a 9-day grace period for the property tax payment due on March 18, and tax payments that are postmarked March 27 or earlier will have interest and penalties waived.

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CRAFTSBURY COMMON — Following the World Health Organization’s designation of the coronavirus as a pandemic, Sterling College will suspend in-person classes and transition to distance learning. Although there are no suspected or confirmed cases of the coronavirus at Sterling, the College takes these steps to conform with recommendations from local, state and federal officials, and to minimize the impact on the academic experience of Sterling students.

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More than 5,000 students attending the Vermont State Colleges campuses at Northern Vermont University at Johnson and Lyndon, as well as Vermont Technical College, Castleton University and the Community College of Vermont, will move to all online learning starting next week.

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MONTPELIER, VT – To support the ongoing work of the Vermont Department of Health and expand the capacity of state government to coordinate the COVID-19 response, Gov. Phil Scott has ordered additional state agencies and departments to activate through the Vermont State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC). The activation is in accordance with the State Emergency Management Plan and will organize efforts, as well information sharing and communications with local and state officials.

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North Country Hospital is urging anyone worried that they might have the COVID-19 coronavirus not to go to the emergency room, but to call their family doctor or Vermont Department of Health for directions.

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BURLINGTON — The Vermont Department of Health is asking Vermonters to follow new travel guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The department is requesting that people who return from certain countries affected by the new coronavirus stay home for 14 days to help limit spread of the disease.

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Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital officials say no one should assume they have Coronavirus just because they have flu-like symptoms.

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