The day after officials announced the first deaths in the state related to the coronavirus, Vermont officials provided updates on efforts to control the outbreak.
Governor Phil Scott offered reassurances to state residents over the disruptions and anxieties being felt as efforts continue to slow the spread of the virus. He says the first two deaths in the state were a stark reminder why mitigation actions are absolutely necessary. “We have to recognize that many of us will get this virus. And while many will have moderate symptoms, we must do all we can to protect our older Vermonters and those with underlying conditions who are at greater risk and severe outcomes. The consequences are serious, but the response is literally in our hands.”
On Thursday the governor and health commissioner announced that two Vermonters over the age of 80 had died from the coronavirus. One was a male resident of Windsor County who had been hospitalized at the VA Medical Center in White River Junction. The other was a woman who lived at the Burlington Health and Rehab long-term care facility in Burlington. Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine says other residents of the facility have tested positive. “There are a total of five positive test results in the residents of the facility including the individual who died. We have been rigorously working with the facility regarding their infection control procedures. The fact that they already had adequate policies in place, already had been certified and passed regulatory muster in October of 2019 with no deficiencies noted, and when we became involved very quickly after the first case, it was obvious that they were already pursuing appropriate infection control procedures.”
State officials also provided updates on Vermont’s overall preparedness. The availability of ICU, surgical and isolation beds have increased due to the governor’s directive to suspend elective and non-urgent medical procedures. About 80 new ventilators are expected and the state has the ability to set up so-called pop-up hospitals.
Governor Scott said he expects it will be necessary to extend the closures of schools, bars and restaurants beyond the originally mandated April 6th . “We're still increasing the number of positives we're seeing. The exponential threat is still there. We Vermonters need to prepare for a much longer period of time. But at this point not ready to declare that but it certainly looks as though we're going to have to consider moving that date much further forward.”
Scott also said while he’s considering all options he has no current plans to issue a shelter-in-place order. “But watching what other states are doing we'll consider everything we can based on the science and data that we have available. And then we'll make the proper moves and take the proper steps at that point in time. But not at this point.”
You can view the state’s coronavirus updates on the Scott’s Facebook page.