LT. GOVERNOR MOLLY GRAY JOINS SECOND GENTLEMAN DOUG EMHOFF FOR ROUNDTABLE ON VACCINES AND CALLS FOR INVESTMENTS IN TELEHEALTH, ECONOMIC WELLBEING OF WOMEN
Burlington, Vt. — Today, Lt. Governor Gray joined state leaders in welcoming Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff to Vermont and joined Mr. Emhoff for a roundtable with Governor Scott, Congressman Welch, Burlington Mayor Weinberger and frontline workers.
The Community Health Centers of Burlington hosted the roundtable with Grand Isle Firefighter Bill Baron speaking to vaccination efforts in rural communities and Dr. Heather Stein and Alicia Schwarz speaking to the Community Health Centers’ services to meet the public health needs of marginalized groups, including members of Vermont’s BIPOC community and former refugees.
Lt. Governor Gray spoke of Vermont’s effort as an aging, rural state, particularly as one of the oldest states in the nation, to get vaccines to older Vermonters in rural communities. Lt. Governor Gray praised the work of health centers across the state and applauded support for Vermont’s community health centers in the American Rescue Plan.
“Our community health centers continue to meet Vermonters where they’re at,” Lt. Governor Gray said. “The $33 million in the American Rescue Plan for the Community Health Centers of Burlington and the 10 community health centers serving our rural communities remains critical to our ongoing response as well as meeting community public health needs.”
Lt. Governor Gray also shared some of Vermont’s efforts to address systemic inequities in vaccine access and overall inequities in Vermont’s public health system. Lt. Governor Gray noted that Vermont remains one of the least diverse states in the nation and that fewer than 6% of Vermonters identify as people of color. “This is not something we’re proud of,” Lt. Governor Gray said, “This pandemic exposed deep and persistent inequities in our public health system.”
Lt. Governor Gray discussed her volunteer efforts at BIPOC vaccination clinics in Rutland and applauded the Administration’s launch of the Vermont Multilingual Coronavirus Task Force to support the dissemination of COVID-19 vaccination information in Swahili, Arabic, Somali, Nepali and many other languages spoken in Vermont communities. The Lt. Governor noted the importance of giving marginalized groups a voice in Vermont’s recovery and discussed her “Seat at the Table” series where she recently hosted members of Vermont’s former refugee community to highlight how Vermont can build a more equitable and culturally competent public health system. Lt. Governor Gray also called for investments in broadband as critical to full public health access.
“Vermonters will not have full equity in access to public health until Vermonters have full equity in access to affordable broadband,” Gray said.
In response to a final question from Mr. Emhoff to the frontline workers, the majority of whom were women, could be better supported, Gray highlighted how women, particularly Vermont women, had endured on the frontlines of this pandemic as healthcare workers, childcare providers and long-term care providers.
“Women have been disproportionately impacted by this pandemic and especially here in Vermont,” Gray said, noting that “74% of unemployment claims filed in Vermont in the fall were filed by women, the highest percentage in the nation.”
Gray thanked Mr. Emhoff, Vice President Harris and the Biden Administration for their national leadership on addressing the economic well-being of women and stated, “One of the best things we can do for Vermont women, particularly those who have been on the frontlines of this pandemic, is to make affordable, quality, childcare as well as paid family and medical leave, a reality.”