Governor Phil Scott continues to urge Vermonters to follow the guidelines he set last week to control the spread of COVID-19. The spread of the virus is increasing in the state and the Northeast.
Last Friday, Governor Scott ordered bars and social clubs closed to in-person service. Restaurants were ordered to close at 10 p.m. but may provide take-out service after that. Multi-household gatherings in public and private spaces were also prohibited.
During Tuesday’s regular update Scott says he understands that it may be counterintuitive to let restaurants remain open while restricting private gatherings. “From October 1 to the time of Friday’s announcement 71% of outbreaks were linked to social events: parties and people hanging out at home or at bars and clubs. We’re in the middle of a pandemic and we’re seeing record growth. And this growth is not because of tourists. It’s not because of restaurants. It’s not because of gyms. It’s not because of schools. It’s because adults continue to get together with other adults, multiple households, inside and outside, in situations usually involving alcohol where they stop taking precautions.”
The Republican spoke directly to skeptics and doubters who refuse to comply with the guidelines. “I understand that if you want to ignore the science or choose not to believe it there’s not much we can do to stop you. But I want to be clear. The number of people in hospitals is growing across the country because some care more about what they want to do rather than what they need to do to help protect others. The skeptics are right. They can do what they want. But don’t call it patriotic. Don’t pretend it’s about freedom. Because real patriots serve and sacrifice for all. Patriots also stand up and fight when our nation’s health and security is threatened. And right now our country and way of life is being attacked by this virus.”
The state is continuing to increase its testing and tracing capacity. Five new testing centers are opening this week in Burlington, Middlebury, Waterbury, Rutland and Brattleboro. Agency of Human Services Secretary Mike Smith says more are planned. “We hope to have 14 sites by the end of the month. We are planning to have five sites up this week. We hope to have the capacity to do 30,000 tests a week.”
Data shows 593 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the state over the past week. Because the increase is occurring so quickly and is so prevalent, Smith issued an order Monday that hospitals and nursing homes must return to the tighter restrictions imposed earlier this year. “It means this: no visitors are permitted at this time and until further notice with some limited exceptions. As well suspends all hospital volunteer programs until further notice with the exception of certified birth doulas.”
The Vermont Agency of Financial Regulation, which tracks COVID-19 data, forecasts a 50% increase in new cases in Vermont over the next six weeks. The forecast model also predicts a 71% increase nationally and a 153% increase in cases in the Northeast over the same time period.
Governor Scott’s full briefing can be viewed here: