BURLINGTON – The State of Vermont reported 72 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday morning, the highest number of cases reported since the start of the pandemic, and almost double the number of new cases reported yesterday.
State officials say this concerning development highlights a trend of increasing positive cases as clusters and outbreaks grow across the state. These clusters and outbreaks often trace back to Vermonters traveling out of state and to social gatherings like baby showers, Halloween parties, deer camps and other small gatherings where masking and physical distancing breakdown.
In response to this trend, and the even greater surge in cases in other states in the region, Governor Phil Scott has directed the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) to prepare to execute existing surge plans, including re-deploying field hospital sites as a precautionary measure.
A northern alternate care facility at the Champlain Valley Exposition in Essex Junction has an overall capacity of 400 beds, with most being warehoused by the Vermont National Guard since late-spring. That site has remained staged with 50 beds through the summer. 100 additional beds will be deployed in the days to come, with 250 additional beds and other components in reserve.
A 50-bed field hospital trailer is staged in southern Vermont near Rutland, so that southern facility remains ready to add another 50 beds for a potential surge.
Teams from the Vermont National Guard will carry out the mission to deploy these assets as the State preemptively prepares for impacts related to rising case levels.
“I understand that Vermonters feel fatigued from the pandemic, its impact on all of us and the sacrifices it has required,” said Governor Scott. “As I have said throughout this pandemic, we all have to do our part to keep each other safe and we must continue to follow the public health practices of wearing a mask, staying six feet apart, avoiding crowded places, and quarantining when you are sick. We also have to be smart about how many people we come in contact with and work together to limit that number, so we can slow the spread now, protect our neighbors, keep our kids in school and keep our economy open.”
Vermonters are encouraged to get tested for COVID-19 if they have recently attended any event or gathering with people from outside their small social circle, have traveled out of state, have had a visitor from out of state, or anyone that has been a near or close contact of a COVID positive individual.
Additionally, when contacted by the Health Department contact tracing team, Vermonters need to work with them – providing full and accurate information – to help trace any individuals they may have interacted with recently. If contact tracers are unable to trace the spread of the virus, then they will be unable to contain an outbreak and mitigate any further spread into our communities.
Vermonters must understand that by engaging in riskier activities, like attending parties and gatherings – even small ones – there will continue to be a surge in cases and we will see community spread like the rest of the country. Vermonters have worked hard to protect our communities, keep our businesses open and send children back to school. Now is not the time to give up on the hard work and sacrifices over the last seven months.
The best way to stay healthy and prevent the spread of virus is to follow the core prevention actions: Wear a mask, keep a 6-foot distance from others, avoid crowded spaces and social gatherings, wash your hands a lot, stay home when you’re sick.
Pop-up testing sites and other community testing opportunities are offered throughout Vermont. For locations, dates and to make an appointment, visit: healthvermont.gov/covid19-testing.
COVID-19 is highly contagious. People with COVID-19, even those who don’t have any symptoms, can spread the virus to other people. There are things we can all do to protect ourselves and the people around us from getting or spreading COVID-19.
- Wear a mask indoors when you are with people you don’t live with or outside when you cannot always keep 6 feet apart. Vermont requires masks be worn in public spaces.
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Wash your hands a lot.
- Keep your social circle small. Avoid social gatherings and if you do participate in one, it is strongly advised to limit it to 10 or fewer people with a very limited number of groups.
- Stay at least 6 feet apart from people you do not live with.
- Follow Vermont’s travel guidance: All non-essential travel now requires quarantine.