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Vt. officials provide briefing on southern Vermont outbreak

Published: Jul. 16, 2020 at 10:31 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 16, 2020 at 6:16 PM EDT
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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - Over 50 people have now tested positive for the coronavirus in southern Vermont through antigen rapid testing, but Vermont health officials Thursday cautioned that the tests may be less accurate and that they’re not calling it an outbreak yet.

Thursday was the second day of the more definitive PCR testing in Manchester. On Wednesday, almost 700 specimens were collected, and while most of those results are still pending, the Vermont Department of Health shared seven results, saying that only two were confirmed by lab testing. The other five came back negative. Health officials say it could be because the antigen tests don’t work as well on people who don’t have symptoms and are in areas where there’s a low virus rate.

“CDC and the Association of Public Health Laboratory guidelines do not recommend antigen testing for people without symptoms,” said Vt. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine.

Levine says the initial results may not be a false alarm but that it’s still too early to draw conclusions. There may also still be positives from community members who never got an antigen test. More information is expected Thursday night.

The Southern Vermont Medical Center says if the demand for testing remains high, they will continue testing at Riley Rink in Manchester on Friday and possibly into next week. Testing there is on a walk-in basis. Otherwise, testing will be moved to the Northshire campus in Bennington and will require an appointment.

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