Scott Administration Says Traffic Data Show No Spike In Out-Of-State Entries

State Department of Transportation employee Bonnie Davis counts cars entering and leaving Pownal on the Vermont-Massachusetts border. (Peter Crabtree/VPR)

A massive data-gathering operation at border crossings across Vermont hasn’t shown a major influx in the number of visitors from states with COVID-19 “hotspots,” according to the Scott administration.

Scores of employees at the Agency of Transportation have been manually logging license-plate data at as many as 43 border checkpoints since April 1. Rebecca Kelley, communications director for Gov. Phil Scott, said so far at least, the data have been “encouraging, and nothing that’s raised to the level of thinking we’re seeing a huge influx or a major change in inbound visitors.”

The growth rate of COVID-19 in Vermont is now among the slowest in the nation. Scott said his biggest public-health concern is that visitors from states with a higher prevalence of the new coronavirus, such as New York or Massachusetts, will bring the virus with them to Vermont.

“My biggest fear is that we have a few of those embers come into the state and then erupt and we’re not prepared for them, and then we have a full-blown pandemic right in our own backyard,” Scott said last week.

License-plate data being gathered at places like Route 4 in Fair Haven, however, haven’t indicated any major changes in border-crossing activity, according to data posted publicly by the Agency of Transportation.

“The stay-at-home orders and the travel advisory and the lodging closures and the steps that other states are taking around us have really helped lower that traffic volume, and are a little reassuring, I think, for the governor and his team,” Kelley said.

On a recent sunny afternoon, two men sitting in pickup trucks on each side of Route 4 in Fair Haven logged the name of the state on each license plate entering Vermont, and also those leaving the state.

Read the rest of this story at VPR’s website.