What’s driving a spike in COVID cases in our region?

Published: Nov. 9, 2020 at 4:12 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont has its highest number of COVID-19 cases since early in the pandemic. Twenty-three new cases on Monday brings us up to 482 active cases.

Numbers don’t lie. We have not seen an increase like this since April.

Officials want you to think back and get back to that behavior from a few months ago-- social distancing, mask-wearing, washing your hands-- that helped reduce the total number of cases statewide.

A recent spike in coronavirus cases nationwide, including right here in Vermont.

“I guess it’s expected that what they said-- it would get worse in the fall,” said Julie Rosenblatt of Burlington.

“A little shocking I would say,” said Chris Nuckols of Essex.

Vermonters I talked with say they are still doing their part to make sure the virus doesn’t spread.

“As long as there is not big crowds,” said Juan Mier of Burlington.

“Yeah, we don’t go anywhere,” Rosenblatt said.

But the state says they are seeing more outbreaks and scattered cases.

“With more infection and the combination of that, more social gatherings, we are seeing those numbers rise,” said Tracy Dolan, the deputy commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health.

In addition, they say people are gathering and traveling. That means somebody who may have been in your circle of trust a few months ago, may not be as safe today.

In contact tracing being done by the health department, people are admitting their social gatherings and their circles of trust are growing.

“The number of contacts that people are reporting now who are close are much higher,” Dolan said.

And it’s a statewide issue.

In Burlington, the city’s wastewater surveillance program is detecting signs of COVID-19 in the city’s New North End. The mayor reminded people to be aware and cautious.

“It means we are in a period of elevated risk and it’s something that all Burlingtonians and Vermonters should be aware of,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger, D-Burlington.

And it’s hitting small towns.

“We have had a spike in cases in Williamstown,” said Jackie Higgins, the Williamstown town manager.

In Williamstown, the schools have gone remote for the week and the town offices have closed down for in-person interactions. The Williamstown Pub has also temporarily closed.

“We only had one case in Williamstown up until this point and we have had this spike in the last two weeks, so it’s scary,” Higgins said.

But while Vermont saw its first COVID-related death in a few months over the weekend, the state says there has been some success in protecting the most vulnerable including the elderly. And even as numbers grow, bigger picture, Vermont is still showing success in fighting the virus.

“Here in Vermont, just to put us in perspective relative to the rest of the country, we are still in really good shape. However, we are on an upward trend,” Dolan said.

The state also added it’s important to have the COVID talk with your family. That means pointing to the importance of not traveling and keeping gatherings small this holiday season.

As for Burlington, the mayor says they are right now evaluating the need for pop-up testing in the area.

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