ACLU Statement on State Response to COVID-19

MONTPELIER, Vt. – In the wake of Vermont’s first confirmed cases of coronavirus/COVID-19 and the temporary adjournment of the state legislature, the ACLU of Vermont is monitoring state and local responses to the pandemic and is in contact with state officials to lend support as needed.

ACLU of Vermont Executive Director James Duff Lyall: “The ACLU of Vermont is committed to doing its part to maintain the health, safety, and civil liberties of all people who live in Vermont. That includes calling on state officials to ensure that any measures taken to limit the spread of the virus are grounded in science, proportional to the threat, and no more intrusive on civil liberties than absolutely necessary.

Public officials should be trusted messengers of vital public health information, grounded in scientific evidence, and should keep the public informed with accurate, timely information.

It is also the responsibility of government to ensure that those who are most vulnerable, especially those under its care, are protected. Those residing in close living quarters—including mental health facilities, prisons, homeless shelters, and nursing homes—are particularly vulnerable. All people, especially vulnerable populations, should have access to care, regardless of ability to pay, health insurance coverage, or citizenship status.

While this is an uncertain and unprecedented time in our state, it is also a moment in which we must acknowledge our shared humanity and reliance on one another, act on our shared values of compassion and unity, and support each other through this challenging and difficult time.”

On March 11th, the ACLU of Vermont sent a letter to the Vermont Department of Corrections putting forth recommendations on how to protect people in DOC custody from contracting the virus. Read or download the letter below.