Burlington, Vermont’s mayor and the head of the largest hospital in the state say the coronavirus pandemic may be moving toward a new phase.
Data collected by the Vermont Health Department and evidence from admissions at the University of Vermont Medical Center indicate that the so-called curve of infections is bending, according to hospital President Dr. Stephen Leffler. “The evidence is now uncontroversial that we've bent the curve in this first phase of the pandemic. In the state of Vermont yesterday there are only two positive tests. At the UVM Medical Center right now we have 10 positive inpatients. We have four patients under investigation. We have no one who has COVID right now on a ventilator. And we've been discharging people every day. This has come because of the really hard work and sacrifice of Vermonters who's socially isolated, who stayed home, done the right thing and without question they've saved maybe hundreds of lives.”
Dr. Leffler says we are in the first phase of the epidemic. He believes the restrictions, social isolation and business closures “bought time” to prepare for future impacts of the virus. “As we start to think about reopening, I think it's extremely likely that we're going to see spikes and so we're preparing for that. And I personally believe there is going to be some Coronavirus with us until we either develop herd immunity or we have a vaccine. No one really knows exactly what's going to happen. But if you look at what's happening in Europe where they're a little ahead of us on the curve or in Asia, as they loosen things up, they're starting to see some more cases. I think we should expect that. But I think now is a good time to start really carefully thinking about that, because now we do have better testing, better PBE and a better understanding of what the cases look like and how to treat them actually too. We've learned a lot from the cases we've had.”
Mayor Miro Weinberger also discussed several programs the city is sponsoring to help residents. The city’s Green Energy Stimulus Plan uses carryover efficiency funds from 2019 to get $800,000 into the city economy. Eight new initiatives were announced Wednesday. Resource and Recovery Center Director Luke McGowan reports they have also successfully retooled a small business grant program to create grants to immediately help small businesses in the city. “We have essentially processed applications and gotten checks out in the mail to 67 local businesses about half of whom are restaurants and food service businesses. And those are either $1,500 or $2,000 checks that if they haven't arrived yet will be arriving over the next few days.”
The city is also launching a new COVID-19 Dashboard on its website that Senior Planner Meagan Tuttle explained was initially designed as a tool for the Emergency Operations Center. “One of the key things that we've been working on is to try to better understand what it means to us in Burlington and to really bring the information about this pandemic closer to home or as close to home as possible.”