Vermont Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman, a Progressive who is running for governor as a Democrat, held a telephone town hall on the coronavirus Wednesday.
Vermont’s Lieutenant Governor hosted two medical professionals on the call and updated callers on the status of the pandemic in the state. Zuckerman provided Health Department numbers as of the call and reviewed actions taken by the state. “We are, in the state of Vermont, rapidly trying to react to the situations at hand. And there are a number of different folks across state government who are working on this effort trying to make this pandemic both get addressed and flatten the curve as quickly as possible as well as work to provide services and answer questions for Vermonters.”
AFT Vermont President and UVM Medical Center Intensive Care Unit nurse Deb Snell thanked Vermonters for supporting health care workers and asked Vermonters to remain patient. “Coronavirus for us has been a moving target as well. We're getting new information from the CDC and World Health Organization and our hospitals every day. And we are doing the best we can under these circumstances and thank you for being patient with us.”
Evergreen Family Health family medicine Dr. Paul Reiss advised people not to go to the emergency room but rather call a primary care physician and if possible schedule a telehealth appointment. “Now's the time to stay home and get all those projects done. Minimize your social contacts. Wash your hands well. Remember that most people have mild disease or no symptoms at all but can spread it to other folks who are at risk. So really take care of each other by the social distancing. And use your primary care practice or the health department for information if you need it. But also get your regular care as well from your primary care office. They're doing telehealth visits for regular chronic management of hypertension, diabetes, other medical problems, evaluating your medications, that kind of thing. Don't put that off.”
There were a range of questions during hour-long town hall. Gail from Burlington was concerned about potential exposure to the virus while grocery shopping. “Most cashiers don't know much about sterile techniques.”
Deb Snell: “Carry your own hand sanitizer with you or your own wipes with you to like wipe down the debit machine and anything you may come in contact with.”
“This is Dr. Reiss. I would add try to keep your distance from them and then washing your hands afterwards.”
Judith from Marshfield wanted assurances that the state is preparing for patient overloads. “We need to increase the facilities and talk about ways to staff more facilities, as well as of course, get more protective equipment for the healthcare workers.”
Snell: “The National Guard is doing setups across the state. They are bringing crisis nurses into the state to help.”
Zuckerman: “The legislation that just passed and the governor's work are making it possible for medical professionals who have retired in the last three years will be eligible to work in the medical system. So the state is taking measures and the hospitals are taking measures to be prepared.”
The Vermont Health Department is providing information and daily updates on coronavirus on its website.