In Burlington, second gentleman Doug Emhoff talks COVID vaccine, state pandemic response

Local News

Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, was in Burlington on Wednesday to learn more about Vermonters’ response to the pandemic. 

“It was a great a opportunity to highlight our work but also to welcome such an important leader to Vermont,” said Lt. Governor Molly Gray.

Federal state, and local officials joined the second gentleman in a roundtable discussion that included Congressman Peter Welch and Governor Phil Scott, Mayor Miro Weinberger and front line workers.

“Mr. Emhoff’s presence is an indication of how it continues to be absolutely vital to get the vaccine,” Welch said.

In his 10th visit around the country, Emhoff spoke with a young Vermonter who was getting her first dose of the vaccine. He asked her, “How do you feel about having your vaccine? What are you looking forward to?” 

She responded, “I want to be a part of ending this pandemic, which is why I’m a getting vaccinated.” 

Emhoff encouraged all Vermonters to get inoculated.

“They work, they’re safe….and you’re going to save your life and the lives of others,” said Emhoff.

After, he sat down to hear about the Green Mountain State’s pandemic efforts, such as the creation of vaccine clinics for BIPOC Vermonters and a multi-lingual Covid task force to make information more accessible to new Americans.

“We’ve taken great steps to make sure that Covid information is translated into Swahili and Nepali and the languages of some of our former refugees,” said Lt. Gov. Gray.

Gray also mentioned that in October and November, 74 percent of Vermonters who filed for unemployment were women. She says that’s the highest rate in the nation. 

“Mr. Emhoff assured us that he would take our stories from Vermont and home to vice president harris who has been talking about the economic well-being of women in this pandemic,” said Gray.

She also emphasized the need for better access to broadband internet.  

“In order for us to truly have an equitable healthcare system, every vermonter needs to be able to access healthcare from their home as we transition to a society where healthcare is deployed online.” 

Emhoff says there are lessons take away from the state’s response. Lt. Gov. Gray said Vermont can continue to learn from its approach and must apply it long after the pandemic.

“As a state that needs to be more welcoming and needs to be more diverse – that we take away a lot of the lessons learned from our deployment of the vaccines and our response to Covid-19 and apply that to making a more equitable public health system,” said Gray.

Emhoff said some of the most successful states he has visited are ones where federal, state and local governments are working together to inform and protect their communities. 

“It’s a model to the rest of country. For the service, the community, the effort, the sacrifice that you’ve all shown throughout this year,” said Emhoff.

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