New Vt. Covid-19 cases drop this week, Gov. Scott puts $133 million into economic recovery

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The Vermont Department of Health shows there is a total of 40 new Covid-19 cases this week, down from the 53 new cases reported last week, for an overall total of 1,541. These numbers are based on data published on the Health Department’s daily dashboard, tracking cases reported from Friday, Aug. 14 to Friday, Aug. 21.

Also, Gov. Phil Scott has proposed that the state dedicate another $133 million in CARES Act funding to “help save businesses and jobs and continue our economic recovery efforts.” Of the $1.25 billion received, Vermont still has $200 million left to spend before the end of the year or risk losing the funding.

There were no new deaths reported this week. That number is holding at 58, with only two deaths reported since June 18.

During the Friday, Aug. 21 press conference, Michael Pieciak, commissioner of the state Department of Financial Relations who conducts ongoing predictive modeling on the coronavirus for Vermont, cited an increase of 61 cases this week in Vermont. The press conference numbers likely included the 17 cases reported on Friday, Aug. 14, which fell into our tracked numbers for last week.

His model continues to predict an increase in cases expected over the next few weeks as Vermont continues the vigorous testing that is now under way as more Vermont college and university students continue to enter the state. A total of 9,581 tests were conducted last week for a daily average of 1,369, a nearly 50 percent increase in administered testing over the week prior.

$133M available for continued recovery; dozen college cases

Vermont Commerce Secretary Lindsay Kurrle broke down the governor’s $133 million proposal into four key areas: $23 million in economic and recovery grants to help fill gaps in the original program to various businesses and certain types of non-profits; $50 million in hospitality and tourism specific grants, largely for lodging and restaurants; $50 million dedicated to provide $150 to each Vermonter as part of a buy-local campaign (those funds would distributed as some type of debit card); and $10 million in economic development and tourism marketing funding to help attract visitors during the upcoming foliage and winter season, and encourage people to relocate to Vermont permanently. For more details on Scott’s proposal, click this link.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said that there have been about a dozen college student cases so far this month, which was expected, but that the health department has seen “no ongoing transmission on any campus at this time.”

Human Services Secretary Mike Smith has announced that there have been two positive cases identified in two long-term care facilities in Vermont on Friday morning, Aug. 21. One resident lives in a single unit at the Wake Robin Retirement Community in Shelburne and another is at the Helen Porter Nursing Home in Middlebury. The state is seeking confirmation on those two results and will conduct additional testing at both facilities as needed over the next several days.

Overall for Vermont, the news continues to be positive. Vermont continues to lead the nation in low coronavirus numbers with the lowest positivity rate in the United States, as well as the lowest per capita case total in the country.

Chittenden County continues to lead the state in new cases with an increase of 17, about 43 percent of the state’s weekly total. Windham County gained six cases this week, and now stands at 111. Windsor County reported one new case, totaling 75.

Hospitalized patients have increased by one, with a total of three. The “hospitalization under investigation” number has decreased and fallen from 11 to seven.

Contacts Monitored, which includes close contacts of people who have already tested positive, has risen by four, going from 29 to 33. Travelers being monitored, which includes those participating in the Sara Alert system, has dropped from 943 to 884.

The pop-up Covid-19 testing schedule for Springfield includes a date on Tuesday, Aug. 25 at the Springfield UU Meetinghouse location on Fairground Road. No dates beyond Aug. 27 are currently posted for any pop-up sites but are added regularly.

To schedule a test, click on this link and scroll down to the appropriate date. This site has recently added a link to sign up to be notified of future testing dates in the area of your choice.

Manufacturer says Manchester tests administered correctly

The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development updated Vermont’s cross-state travel information map on Friday, Aug.21. This map identifies the surrounding counties throughout the Northeast that can now freely travel to Vermont without quarantine. This is a county-by-county list for those areas that have less than 400 active Covid-19 cases per million residents and is updated weekly. Eligible travel counties have increased this week, adding approximately 700,000 possible quarantine-free travelers for a total of 6.6 million possible travelers to Vermont. Click this link to see the latest updates to this interactive county map.

Quidel, the company that makes the test, and the Food and Drug Administration have concluded their investigation into the 60+ positive cases that were identified at the Manchester Medical Center in mid-July. Looking into the “testing data,” Quidel concluded there was no problem with the equipment or how the tests were administered, ultimately saying in a press release that it was “highly likely” that the that the tests in question were “true positives.”  Asked for comment on the investigation, an FDA spokesman referred The Telegraph to the Quidel press release.

According to Levine, the disputed cases will not be added to Vermont’s numbers since confirmation with the PCR test is part of the Vermont Health Department’s protocol for confirming a positive case and adding it to the state total. Levine said the state is continuing to work with the Centers for Disease Control on their investigation of this case, which looked at the epidemiological data versus the testing data. That report is expected within a week. He cautioned that there “may not be an ability to totally explain the discordance in the epidemiological data and the testing data.”


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

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