Vermont reports, again, no new cases of the coronavirus and no new deaths even as the number of tests has increased. By anyone’s definition that should be good news, which gives Gov. Phil Scott the momentary freedom to say Vermont’s the “envy of the nation.”

We’ve held that distinction for a number of weeks, which is a testament to Vermonters being good rule followers. Social distancing works, as does the washing of hands, wearing masks, etc. We’ve also watched as states around us had contrary experiences. To the extreme. It’s been an incentive to do better.

Our enviable numbers are what allow us to open our economy with less foreboding than other states who have opened their economies wider and faster, but with the concomitant increase in their Covid-19 case numbers, and the accompanying fear. Those states are also more divided than we are.

The hope is that we are able to expand the number of business openings, and maintain control over the outbreak. It’s that balance which will ultimately allow us to open the economy wider, giving the necessary life lines to businesses that continue to suffer.

What’s astounding about Vermont’s progress is the pushback. It’s stunning to read the social media posts and the reader responses to generally circulated stories about the state’s progress.

There are those who want the state shut down to outsiders. Period. Close the borders. Tell outsiders to go home. There are those who think the state has overreacted: “The complacency from a free people is beyond frightening. The continued wearing of a mask by the Governor only promotes the fear and panic.” Then, there’s this: “Vermont is not the envy of anything…Vermonters prematurity [sic] die at the highest rate in the US. It’s a fact. Your dr may not be your hero he may be your worst nightmare…”

For real?

Clearly, Vermont has within its borders an element that pays little attention to facts and aligns itself with the far right protestors who view any restrictions as infringements on their personal rights. It’s a group completely unhinged from the facts.

As counterintuitive as this may be, it’s this anti-lockdown fervency that puts the reopening of Vermont’s economy at risk.

Our ticket to sufficiently reopening the economy is the degree of safety provided and Vermont’s growing reputation as to how that was achieved. It’s a message that needs to be managed and built upon. This is what helps ensure that when fall hits, the 42,000 students attending Vermonts’ colleges and universities show up. It’s what brings back the tourists. It’s what keeps our slowing moving economic engine going forward, and not stalling.

As the political volume begins to increase, it’s important to keep the words of Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan in mind: “People are entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts.”

by Emerson Lynn

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