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Governor Scott And Administration Officials Provide State Update On Coronavirus

Vermont Statehouse
Pat Bradley/WAMC
Vermont Statehouse (file)

During his regular briefing on the status of the pandemic in Vermont Tuesday, Governor Phil Scott expressed some optimism despite rising cases of the virus.

Once a week Department of Financial Regulation Commissioner Michael Pieciak presents charts that track the course of COVID-19 across the nation, region and within Vermont.  On Tuesday Pieciak said mobility data is showing that over the past two weeks Vermonters decreased their movement, spending more time at home and commuting less often to work, which resulted in a slowing of cases.  “The updated regional model indicates that we can expect to see the slow down continue with new cases expected to rise 29% over the next three weeks, which is a decrease from the 45% expected last week. The next few weeks are less certain as we wait to see the impacts of holiday gatherings.”

Governor Phil Scott says the newest data provides some optimism.  “It looks as though there have been changes in behavior that will hopefully lead to fewer cases than projected. It’s too early however to know exactly how many people kept their Thanksgiving get-togethers small and what impact holiday travel will have.  But with this initial data and the lower daily cases we’re seeing I’m feeling cautiously optimistic.  I want to thank all those who made sacrifices over the last few weeks.  But with that thanks comes another ask to keep it up until we have a little more data on the impact of Thanksgiving.”

Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said as of Monday teams were following 39 outbreaks and 185 coronavirus situations. One of them is the first they have found that is related to an early Thanksgiving dinner party.  Levine also said the department is changing how it reports cases.  “Starting Wednesday our case numbers will include probable cases.  A case is considered probable if the person has symptoms of COVID-19 and tested positive on an antigen test and has symptoms of COVID-19 or epidemiologic evidence or if the case has symptoms of COVID-19 and is epidemiologically linked to a confirmed case of COVID-19. Reporting probable cases as part of our total cases will more fully capture COVID-19 activity in Vermont at a time when antigen testing is increasing.”

Agency of Human Services Secretary Mike Smith addressed and apologized for an incident that began last Friday when 246 COVID tests collected at the Barre Auditorium did not arrive in a timely manner to a lab in Massachusetts and therefore could not be processed.  “I’ve asked the Health Department to immediately get additional testing sites in the area if needed and those tests of the individuals impacted to be expedited. In addition I’ve asked my general counsel at the agency level to investigate what happened with the UPS delivery to the Broad Institute in Massachusetts. Samples arrived at the UPS facility and sat there not going out for delivery to Broad until 50 hours later.  As a result the samples were spoiled and could not be tested. Lastly I’ve asked the Health Department to review all testing and reporting procedures and report to my general counsel any changes that need to be put in place to quickly inform us of a delay of a delivery to the lab. We cannot let this mistake happen again.”

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