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Vt. health officials to disregard new CDC testing guidance

Published: Aug. 27, 2020 at 6:53 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 28, 2020 at 3:52 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont’s health commissioner is pushing back against the CDC’s updated testing guidance.

The CDC this week changed its recommendations for testing people who may have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, saying they may not need to get tested, a controversial change of course that some say was politically motivated.

Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine says in the six months Vermont has been dealing with the virus, they’ve learned people who are in close contact are at risk for getting sick. So the state’s testing recommendations will not be changing.

“The whole strategy of containment-- testing, isolating, contact tracing and quarantining-- has been fundamental to our success in Vermont and needs to continue. And underpinning its success is testing,” Levine said.

Levine also said the CDC’s decision to leave travel quarantine guidance-- both within the U.S. and internationally-- up to individual states is short-sighted.

He says Vermont’s travel quarantine policies have served us well and will not be changing.

Vermont officials say the state continues to have the lowest per capita infection rate and the lowest positivity rate in the entire country. As of Friday, the state reported three new cases of COVID-19 bringing the statewide total of cases is 1,589. The death toll remains at 58.

The Vermont Department of Health is investigating what they’re calling a COVID-19 “situation” in Rutland County that may be related to a large gathering. Since the number of cases is small -- under six -- health officials Friday said they would not release further details.

UPDATED TRAVEL MAP

Vt. Financial Regulation Commissioner Mike Pieciek says there were 50 new cases in Vermont in the last week, down 10 from the week before. There were 16,000 tests in the past week, with many of them tied to college reopenings. Regionally, cases went up about 7.5 percent in the past week.

Pieciak says that they anticipate low-level case growth over the next few weeks. He also reassured Vermonters that they do not believe college students are bringing as much of the virus as expected and that the test positivity rate for students remains very low.

Vt. Travel Map - August 28
Vt. Travel Map - August 28(WCAX)

There were no major changes to the updated travel map and the number of people allowed to come to Vermont without a quarantine -- about 6 million people.

COVID ASSISTANCE GRANTS

Human Services Secretary Mike Smith gave an update on two grant programs -- one for health care and human services providers who lost revenue due to the pandemic, and the other for front line health care workers.

The provider grant program is $275 million and more than 300 applications have been submitted, equaling about $116 million. The state is readying the first round of payments, which will be about $4 million. For the $28 million front line health care worker hazard pay program, there have been 460 applications so far. About 70 applicants have been approved and about $10 million is going out early next week. The state expects to review all applications submitted in august by mid-September.

Smith says 3SquaresVT households will also see an increase in their maximum food benefits.

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