Here’s why state workers are counting cars at Vermont’s borders

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Anyone crossing Vermont’s borders in the last week might have noticed something different at the boundary to the Green Mountain State.

A hint: It wasn’t the illuminated traffic signs urging residents to stay home or those arriving from elsewhere to self-quarantine for two weeks.

Twenty-eight high-priority gateways to New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Canada have become data-collection points where workers from the Agency of Transportation — clad in high-visibility roadside gear and carrying clipboards — are recording movement in and out of Vermont, according to the state’s COVID-19 Joint Information Center.

The effort is meant to determine how effectively Vermont’s COVID-19 mitigation strategy is reducing travel, according to Stephanie Brackin of the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation. Out-of-state and Vermont vehicles are being counted in order to give health care officials a sense of potential capacity needs.

A vehicle’s state of registration is the only information being recorded — not license plate numbers. The data is not being shared with law enforcement, Brackin said.

Motorists should expect to see additional sites staffed by state employees over the remainder of this week, Brackin said. The data will be analyzed by the governor’s office and the Department of Health. 

More: Early data hints that Vermont’s efforts to combat COVID-19 are paying off

The list of monitored crossings includes 15 links with New Hampshire, nine with New York and two intersections each with Quebec and Massachusetts. The New York crossings include the Grand Isle-Plattsburgh ferry.

COVID-19 is the official name of the disease related to the coronavirus that first started to affect people in China at the end of 2019.

Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough and breathing trouble. Most develop only mild symptoms. But some people, usually those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal. 

Contact Austin Danforth at 651-4851 or edanforth@freepressmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @eadanforth.

All coverage of the coronavirus is being provided for free to our readers. Please consider supporting local journalism by subscribing to the Free Press. 

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