Weekly Update: As Covid-19 cases rise slightly, emergency declaration extended to Nov. 15

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Gov. Phil Scott extended the State of Emergency in Vermont on Thursday for another month, through Nov. 15. This gives Scott the authority  continue to implement and manage state guidelines in response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The state Department of Health continued to see higher than usual new positive Covid infections with 69 new cases reported this week. Although down nine cases from the 78 new cases reported last week, this is the highest two-week total since early June, bringing the state’s positive case total to 1,915.

During the Friday, Oct. 16 press conference, state epidemiologist Dr. Patsy Kelso said that although these numbers are a bit concerning, they are “not at all different than what we’ve been forecasting.” The total positive case numbers can be found on the VDH daily dashboard, tracking cases reported during the span from Friday, Oct. 9 to Friday, Oct. 16. While Vermont continues to lead the nation in low positivity numbers and low case count recent outbreaks have moved the state from its position in the White House Coronavirus Task Force’s “green zone.” The number of Covid deaths in the state remains at 58, a number that has not increased in over two months.

Outbreak among hockey teams; school cases up slightly

The Health Department is following an outbreak of 18 positive Covid-19 cases involving adult and youth hockey teams playing at the Central Vermont Memorial Civic Center in Montpelier earlier this month. Most of the cases identified have been adults. They have confirmed relationships between at least some of the adults and children. No community spread has been identified to this point.

According to Kelso, contact tracing has led investigators to one college, three K-12 schools and five workplaces.

Very slight rise in school, college cases. Photo by Alexandra Koch for Pixabay.

Scott said he believed that the outbreak was related more to the social aspect outside of the rink rather than games on the ice and that he hopes they can “continue to offer sports in a very measured, different way … to our kids and adults.”

Scott and his administration will be making decisions about the status of hockey arenas in Vermont “over the next 48 to 72 hours.” The updated winter sports guidelines for high school hockey and other winter sports are expected to be released next week. Late on Friday afternoon the administration announced that it has ordered the rink to “freeze” its schedule for the next two weeks.

Health department officials ares also investigating several positive cases in seven K-12 Vermont schools. During the Tuesday, Oct. 13 press conference, state Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine identified five schools with positive cases: South Burlington High School, Williston Central School, Windsor School, Manchester Elementary School and Essex Elementary School. On Thursday, Essex High School also reported a positive case. During the Friday, Oct. 16 press conference, Kelso included two new cases at Union Elementary School in Montpelier, the first known in-school transmission cases yet recorded. According to Kelso, the Union Elementary students are not related to the hockey outbreak.

Total case numbers for each school will be updated on the VDH website on Monday morning and specific numbers will be available then. Levine said that his department had not made any recommendations for the schools to close at this time but that decision ultimately lays with the school itself.

During the Tuesday, Oct. 13 press conference, Financial Regulation Commissioner Michael Pieciak, who oversees predictive modeling for the state, said that positive case numbers among college students continues to remain low with over 15,000 tests given and identifying four new cases for 55 in total.

Testing continues; safe out-of-state counties shrink

Statewide testing of unique individuals increased from last week, with a total of 6,166, up from 5,580 tests last week. Overall testing numbers this week stayed at approximately 30,000. This larger number includes second and third tests for some people.

Click the map to see the state’s travel page

Chittenden County saw an increase of 32 positive cases this week for a total of 865. Washington County (Montpelier) saw a jump of 13 cases to 94. Windham County gained two new cases this week, for 131 in total. Windsor County, who saw 10 new cases last week, added six, for a total of 106. Addison County, who had the biggest county jump last week due to the outbreak at Champlain Orchards, saw an increase of two cases, for a total of 114.

No one was hospitalized with Covid-19 this week, the same as was reported last week. The “hospitalization under investigation” number went from zero to one.

“Contacts Monitored,” which includes close contacts of people who have already tested positive, went from 50 to 61. Travelers being monitored, which includes those participating in the Sara Alert system, was also up, going from 604 to 670.

Pop-up COVID-19 testing for Springfield is scheduled Oct. 20, and Oct. 27. The testing location is at the Springfield Unitarian Universalist 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 red areas that denote high infection areas continue to grow on the Vermont’s cross-state travel map. 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 fewer than 400 active Covid-19 cases per million residents and is updated weekly. Eligible travel counties have plunged again, down another million from last week with possible travelers to Vermont going from 2.9 million, down to 1.87 million, a new record low.

Kelso noted that people can still celebrate Halloween safely by keeping these things in mind: maintain a 6-foot distance from people not in your household; use creative ways to give out candy that can keep a safe distance; incorporate masks into your costume; keep groups small; and look for outside venues rather than being inside. To find out more about area Halloween events, click here.

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

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  1. Arlene Mutschler says:

    On Friday afternoon the traffic heading NORTH on rte 103 and I91 is filled with out of state plates. Same heading south on Sunday night. As I wait to make a left into my street, I watch car after car! You know there here for the weekend, no self quarantine. RB&B? etc no controls; hotels and Inns have to close yet they keep coming?? Not castigating the out of staters.. but really?