Weekly Covid Update: Cases continue to rise as Gov. Scott clarifies restrictions

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The Vermont Department of Health recorded three more deaths from Covid-19 this week and a new case count that soared by 716, up from the 417 cases reported last week, for a total of 3,459 Covid-19 cases.

Thursday brought a grim milestone with the highest number of new infections in a day at 148 new Covid-19 positives

The total positive case numbers are based on data published on the state Health Department’s daily dashboard tracking cases reported during the span from Friday, Nov. 13 to Friday, Nov. 20.

The latest fatalities bring the total number of Vermont deaths due to Covid-19 to 62. Two of the latest deaths  were people over the age of 80 and the other was over 70. Although no other specifics were given, the Associated Press reported earlier today that two of the cases were from the Rutland Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center.

During Friday’s press conference, state Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said they were following 24 outbreaks and 163 “situations” throughout the state but provided few specifics. He did say that only two new cases were reported as part of the tertiary spread associated with the hockey arena outbreak in the Montpelier area and that they were seeing that outbreak “decay.”

Levine indicated that short term, numbers will continue to rise and the Health Department does not expect to see changes for several weeks resulting from the new strict mandates that went into effect on Saturday.

Gov. Phil Scott did clarify two points concerning those strict mandates that called for no multi-household gatherings. He also added new exceptions and changes to his earlier restrictions:

  • Anyone who finds themselves in a dangerous or unhealthy situation may seek help in another household;
  • Anyone living alone may gather with another household.
  • Two people from two different households can walk, run, hike or bike together, with mask usage and with a 6-foot distance.

Hospitalizations lowered somewhat from 21 to 18, with only one patient in the ICU, down from three. The “hospitalization under investigation” rose from three to four

Vermont’s positivity rate increased from 1.1 percent to 2 percent, with a seven-day average at 1.78 percent according to Levine.

Schools see slight rise, some attributed to community spread

K-12 schools throughout Vermont have 23 new cases, with 88 total Covid cases reported as of Wednesday, Nov. 18, on the VDH School Based Covid-19 Transmission document. According to Levine, one community in Washington County has moved its schools to remote learning as a response to the number of positive cases in the community, not as a reflection of in-school transmission.

In higher education,  35 new positive Covid-19 cases were reported at UVM, a group that Levine would not characterize as an outbreak saying many were from off-campus students and “was not reflective of a campus-wide problem.” He said it was more of a reflection of an increase in cases throughout Chittenden County. Both UVM and VDH were coordinating on contract tracing efforts there.

Statewide testing of unique individuals is reported at 8,409 this week, a significant jump from the 5,879 tests done last week, according to the data dashboard. Overall testing numbers again returned to over 30,000 tests according to the state’s weekly update document. This larger number includes second and third tests for some people.

During the Tuesday, Nov. 17 press conference, Gov. Scott announced there would be five new testing sites in Burlington, Middlebury, Waterbury, Rutland and Brattleboro by the end of this week. According to Secretary Mike Smith of the Vermont Agency of Human Services, the plan is to have a total of 14 new sites up by the end of the month to conduct 5,000 tests per day. He also indicated they would be providing testing seven days a week and expanding hours to be more convenient for Vermonters.

Windsor total hits 163; Windham total hits 190

Washington County again led the county case count with 223 new positive cases, up significantly from 128 reported last week for a total of 501. Chittenden County saw an increase of 171 cases this week, now totaling 1330. Orange County saw the third highest new case total adding 76, up from 40 last week, for a total of 159 cases. Rutland County saw 45 new cases, going from 160 to 205.

Windsor County added 14 cases, for a total of 163 and Windham County gained 21 new cases this week, for a total of 190.

Contacts Monitored, which includes close contacts of people who have already tested positive, decreased from 241 to 158. Travelers being monitored, which includes those participating in the Sara Alert system, stayed approximately the same going from 222 to 221.

The pop-up Covid-19 testing schedule has listed two dates in Springfield, on Monday, Nov. 23 and Tuesday, Dec. 1. The testing location in Springfield is at Springfield Riverside Plaza, at 256 River St. Click on this link to check for other testing sites. This site has recently added a link to sign up to be notified of future testing dates in the area of your choice.

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

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