Meet Michael Pieciak-The Head of Vermont’s Covid-19 Task Force

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Rachel Ledoux, Writer

Since 2016, Michael Pieciak, Vermont’s Commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulation, has worked to protect the finances of Vermont residents. His department works to regulate banks, insurance companies and investment agencies.  The Mercury had the opportunity to sit down with Pieciak for an interview.

When asked about his department’s role, Pieciak said, “We work to ensure that these businesses are making good on any [products or finances] promised to Vermonters.” 

However, for the past few years, instead of just regulating finances, Pieciak has also been attempting to regulate the Coronavirus as the head of Vermont’s Covid-19 task force.

According to Pieciak, the task force was formed in March of 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic was beginning to hit Vermont. Their goal is to do everything possible to maintain normalcy and safety for Vermont’s residents during this time. 

“It’s sort of a core team that works on all things relating to Covid policy, Covid research, Covid mitigation measures, etc.,” Pieciak said. 

Pieciak explained that the group has multiple subcommittees that deal with different aspects of Coronavirus regulation. There are task forces for housing, non-profits, education, school sports, etc. 

In his opinion, one of the most important parts of Pieciak’s work is the ability to analyze and respond to state and nationwide data surrounding the virus. The team works with data from Vermont, neighboring states, the federal government, etc.

According to Pieciak, the data is often used for predictive purposes.

“For the most meaningful elements of the data, we add some predictive analytics to it as well,” Pieciak said. He added, “Where are we heading in the pandemic? What is the worst-case scenario in terms of, say, hospitalization? [Then] using that to build a plan to make sure [we have gotten] all the resources that we need in Vermont.”

When asked about his favorite parts of the job, Pieciak had this to say:  “To work in an organization that’s having an impact on responding to this once in a lifetime, once in a generation challenge is very satisfying.”  

Pieciak also noted that, so far, he feels the biggest achievement the task force has made has been Vermont’s high vaccination rate, which currently stands at 79.7%

“If every other state had a similar vaccination rate to Vermont, we would be in such a better place as a country,” Pieciak said.

Pieciak also gave a few words of advice for Vermont youth and adults regarding how to help slow the spread of Covid-19 and decrease the loneliness it has brought on for many.

“The three key things [people can do] is wear a mask, get vaccinated and boosted and get tested regularly,” Pieciak said.  He added,  “And it is still important for us to reach out to each other, even just virtually, to make sure that we maintain our sense of community, friendship and relationships with each other.”