Covid Update: Springfield DMV reopens for appointments Bennington sees small Covid cluster related to golf outing

The Springfield DMV is now open for in-person service, by appointment. Photo by Norma Mortenson for Pexels.

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During his press conference on Friday, Oct. 2, Gov. Phil Scott announced the re-opening of three more offices of the Department of Motor Vehicles — Bennington, Newport and Springfield — for in-person transactions by appointment only. These join the S. Burlington, Rutland and Montpelier branches already opened. He encouraged Vermonters to use the DMV online services when possible.

Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine also pointed to a small cluster in Bennington that apparently is related to a golfing event at the Mt. Anthony Country Club.

Overall, the Vermont Department of Health reported a spike of 13 cases overnight for a total of 37 new Covid-19 cases this week, up from the 25 cases reported last week, for a total of 1,768 total cases. These numbers are based on data published on the health department daily dashboard, tracking cases reported during the span from Friday, Sept. 25 to Friday, Oct. 2. The number of Covid deaths in Vermont remains at 58, a number that has not increased in over two months.

Small cluster of cases from golf event; school transition ‘smooth’

Vermont’s overall coronavirus picture is good and continues to lead the nation with the lowest positivity rate and the lowest per capita case total in the country.

Levine made the point that this is a typical pattern, with just a few cases reported per day, then an overnight spike. However, Levine also said that the small cluster of five new Covid-19 cases — two out-of-state residents and three Vermonters — resulted from a golf tournament at the Mt. Anthony Country Club in Bennington on Sept. 19.

Of the spike of 13 reported on Oct. 2, six cases were from Bennington County but Levine said he could only conjecture if those additional were related to the golf event. He said they were working with the event organizers and had reached out to close contacts and they were under quarantine and being tested. All other participants, approximately 80, were sent an email from the VDH alerting them of the positive cases and providing health guidance.

Dr. Levine said they were working with golf event organizers, had reached out to close contacts and they were under quarantine and being tested. All other participants, approximately 80, were sent an email from the VDH alerting them of the positive cases and providing health guidance.

Education Secretary Dan French  said that the process of Vermont schools moving into “Step III” last week has gone smoothly, with no new positives in Vermont K-12 schools since last week. French also said that interscholastic sporting events, which resumed last week, also seems to have gone well but reminded spectators the importance of continuing to follow Covid health guidelines.

In higher education, during the Tuesday, Sept. 29, press conference, Commissioner Michael Pieciak of the Department of Financial Regulation, said they were seeing “continued success” with 24,000 tests administered to college students last week, and only four new cases reported. In total, 81,000 tests have been performed for a total of 47 positive cases. That data is being tallied from the week prior to the Tuesday press conference.

Statewide testing of unique individuals was consistent with last week, with a total of 5,580 new people tested. Overall testing numbers this week were consistent with last week, staying around 28,000. This larger number includes second and third tests for some people.

Bennington County saw the biggest county increase this week, with 12 new cases, jumping from 110 to 122. Chittenden County saw an increase of seven positive cases this week for a total of 842. Windham County gained one new case this week, for 123 in total, while Windsor County reported four new cases, totaling 90.

Two pop-up test dates set in Springfield

There are zero “hospitalized patients” with Covid-19 this week, down from the two reported last week. The “hospitalization under investigation” went from zero to one.

Contacts Monitored, which includes close contacts of people who have already tested positive, ticked up slightly from 36 to 43. Travelers being monitored, which includes those participating in the Sara Alert system, was also up slightly, going from 469 to 544.

The pop-up Covid-19 testing schedule for Springfield has two Tuesday dates in October — Oct. 6 and Oct. 13. No testing dates beyond Oct. 15 have yet been posted. The testing location is at the Springfield UU Meetinghouse on Fairground Road. To schedule a test, click on this link and scroll down to the “Register for Pop-Up Testing” button. This site has recently added a link to sign up to be notified of future testing dates in the area of your choice.

The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development updated Vermont’s cross-state travel information map on Tuesday, Sept. 29. 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 are at 4.2 million possible travelers to Vermont, down from last week. Click this link to see the latest updates to this interactive county map.

Levine announced the arrival of 12,000 rapid antigen tests being sent by the federal government to the state of Vermont in the coming weeks, with 180,000 expected by the end of the year. He said that these tests, which were linked to a spate of false positives in the Manchester area several months ago, do have a place as part of a larger testing protocol in the state, useful for outbreaks and areas of high occurrence, allowing for immediate isolation and quarantining. Any positive results however, would need confirmation with the more reliable PCR test. They would have less of a roll with Vermont’s “current low prevalence,” Levine said.

For more statewide details on Covid-19 information and resources, click here.

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