Guard sets up Covid-19 testing site in Putney Opens Sunday; health-care provider referral required

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The Vermont Department of Health announced this evening – Saturday, March 28, that the state’s National Guard is setting up a Covid-19 testing facility at a building on the Landmark College campus in Putney that will open on Sunday morning.

(The state has since altered its plan and the testing site is now a drive-up facility.)

A Covid 19 testing site will be opening on Sunday in Putney. Photo illustration by David Veksler on Unsplash

According to a press release from the department, the Landmark site will begin seeing patients who have been referred by a health care provider from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 29, and will operate throughout the week. The press release noted that the hours and days of operation will depend on the availability of testing supplies.

On Friday, Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine announced that aggressive procurement of supplies is allowing state to broaden the scope of its testing efforts. Until now, limited supplies required restricting prioritized testing to high risk patients. Levine said health-care providers are now able to include people with mild to moderate symptoms in making clinical referrals for priority testing.

Levine emphasized that people cannot just show up and be tested but must first get a referral from a health-care provider.

The new testing site appears to be part of the “full-court press” strategy to contain the spread of the virus that was announced on Friday. The idea is to get a better idea of how far the virus has spread and to work to isolate and trace the contacts of those infected. The risk is that wider testing will deplete the supply of testing materials so that the procedures may slow down again later.

“The steady increase in positive cases in Vermont, along with the growing number of people who are ill and who, tragically, have died from the virus, mean that while we will draw on our supplies more quickly, the benefit of more testing now significantly outweighs the risk that we may have to slow these efforts again later,” said Dr. Levine on Friday.

“Our overall strategy is to test, to counsel and isolate those who test positive, conduct contact tracing, and quarantine as clinically appropriate,” he said.

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