Dear Constituents –
This week, our world is a very different place. Many of us are navigating the challenges of working from home, often with children present, without access to conveniences like our daily coffee run, restaurant meals, gyms, day cares, or full shelves at the grocery store. We are being tasked with learning how to use technology for our everyday work, for religious services, communication, and for ordinary purchasing. It can be frustrating, frightening, and even feel frivolous in the case of ordering online and having it delivered to your door – but it’s what we must do in order to remain well and safe for the folks we interact with who may be at risk for COVID-19 infection. One of the best statements I heard this week was from a Millennial I won’t name who said, “I am not afraid of being sick myself, but I want to be part of the solution, not the problem, and I’m doing my part to stay home, so I don’t get sick or infect someone and take up a hospital bed that would be better used by someone else who needs it more than I do”. This spoke volumes to me, and I hope we all can take this advice to heart and do the right thing by our friends, family, and neighbors.
Representative Fegard and I have been diligently monitoring as many phone calls and emails as possible this week and meeting remotely to disseminate the information we learn and get it to our constituents in the best way possible without duplication. For us, this has been by posting everything pertinent that we learn to Front Porch Forum and to Rep Fegard’s website www.charenforhouse.com/update, including this update, and I am grateful that she is willing to be the point person for that. Another important source for our constituents to know is that each Agency and Department within State government has a webpage that will have up-to-the minute guidance and resources for folks who have questions about issues such as unemployment benefits (Labor), small business assistance (Commerce), COVID-19 protocol (Health), childcare (Human Services), schools (Education), restaurants (Liquor & Lottery), etc. This information is updated on a daily basis as guidance comes out from both the Federal and State administrations, so please check back often. It is particularly important for small businesses to fill out the survey that is at https.//accd.vermont.gov on how this crisis is affecting Vermonters and to keep a record of any extraordinary expenses that are being incurred by your business as a result of this crisis. It is also important for individuals who are newly unemployed to know about this link to the Dept of Labor’s new online unemployment insurance claim form at appengine.egov.com where they can file a claim.
We also invite you to reach out to us with specific questions and concerns, as the House and the Administration have worked collaboratively this week to develop a question and answer system for legislators to make the process more streamlined. I want to mention how impressive it has been to watch everyone step up to the plate and do the work that they need to do in conjunction with colleagues across the aisle, with the Administration, House and Senate leadership, and with our US Congressional delegation. We are all in this together, and it is reassuring to know that we can put aside our differences to work together towards solutions for all Vermonters.
The full Legislature will remain essentially adjourned next week, with committees meeting remotely, and token sessions gaveling in and out, so Rep Fegard and I will be maintaining our presence in our home District, reaching out to friends, family, neighbors, colleagues, and constituents to see what we can do to be of assistance. Please do everything you can to reach out to your own social circle – by phone call, email, text, social media – to see what they need. It may be as simple as a phone call to an individual who lives alone with an offer to pick up items at the grocery store, as was gratefully demonstrated to my elderly mother who lives out of state. Even though we are being asked to curtail our activities and consolidate our exposures, we are fortunate to live in beautiful, northern Franklin County, and I encourage you all to get out and walk around your home for a well-deserved mental break!
Please stay well,
Representative Lisa A Hango