Franklin resident dies of Covid-19 as state announces looser venue restrictions

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The Vermont Department of Health confirmed one new Covid-19 death — a Franklin County septuagenarian who died on Thursday, the first coronavirus fatality since May 27. This brings the total Covid-19 deaths in Vermont to 56. Despite the new death, overall new case numbers this past week have slowed to 25, now totaling 1,135.

This muted increase suggests that weekly numbers may be leveling off to pre-Winooski outbreak figures that hovered on average around 20 for the weeks between mid-April and June 1, however Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine emphasized during the Monday, June 15 press conference that although he liked what he was seeing with new case numbers, the outbreak was “not in the past tense yet.”

But on Friday, Gov. Phil Scott announced that beginning on Friday, June 26, as state data and expanded testing and tracing capacity continue, the allowed occupancy limits for event venues, arts, culture and entertainment venues, as well as restaurants, will be raised. These businesses will be allowed to expand capacity for events and dining to 50 percent of approved occupancy size or one person per 100 square feet of customer facing space. It will allow for indoor events of up to 75 people and organized outdoor events of up to 150.

 This week saw a startling increase on the daily Health Department data dashboard in the number of “people being monitored,” which jumped from 57 to 807 since last week. The increase was due to Sara Alert numbers now being counted in this category. Sara Alert is a free reminder system for Vermont visitors and returning Vermonters, or those who have previously tested positive for COVID-19, to get daily reminders asking about symptoms. To learn more about the Sara Alert program or to sign up, click here.

Chittenden County continued to see the bulk of new coronavirus case increases with 15 of the new 25 pinpointed to that region. Locally, Windsor County saw no new cases, holding steady at 55 cases, and Windham County saw an increase of two cases, totaling 85.

According to the Department of Health, a total of 54,745 people have been tested in Vermont to date, an increase of 7,536 this week, slightly down from last week but still averaging over 1,000 tests per day. There are two patients currently hospitalized with the virus, an increase of one this week, and those in the hospital who are suspected of having the illness, has held steady at nine.

The pop-up Covid-19 testing scheduled in Springfield on Tuesday, June 23 is completely full. No additional Springfield dates have yet been announced.

On Monday, June 15,  Scott announced that he was extending the State of Emergency until July 15.

In his ongoing efforts to slowly open Vermont, Scott announced that campgrounds and marinas have now been approved to operate at 100 percent capacity but must still follow guidance on all health and safety practices and adhere to the latest travel quarantine requirements. For those restriction details visit this link.

As of June 15, people traveling to Vermont from other states that fall outside the non-quarantine approved counties that were announced last week, can quarantine for 14 days at home before they come to Vermont in a personal vehicle, directly from home without stopping or they may complete a seven-day quarantine followed by a negative test in their home state and enter Vermont without further quarantine restrictions.

On Wednesday, June 17,  Scott announced that beginning today, June 19, the state is relaxing visitation restrictions at its long-term care facilities, hospitals and for those over the age of 65. Residents in nursing homes can now have up to two visitors, per resident, per day, in an outside setting only. Other restrictions include temperature screening, filling out a health questionnaire, wearing facial masks and practicing social distancing. Record keeping is also required. The state recommends that those with chronic conditions should contact their physician. See details outlined here.

Hospital visitation restrictions have also been loosened, allowing for one visitor at a time, unless at a pediatric hospital, which will allow for both parents or one parent and a visitor. The list of restrictions and changes is lengthy and depends on the facility, patient and other factors. For details, check here.

Vermonters over the age of 65 are no longer being asked to stay at home, but Levine outlined extra precautions that should be considered when venturing out which, including limiting indoor contact, limiting to a small circle of trusted households and restricting out of state travel. For more details, click this link.

For more state-wide details on COVID-19 information and resources, visit click here.

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