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Surrounded by ‘sea of red,’ Vt. health officials paint grim picture of weeks ahead

Vermont's safe travel map
Vermont's safe travel map(WCAX)
Published: Nov. 10, 2020 at 5:41 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont health officials say the rising COVID caseload around the region -- matched by concerns about what’s going on around the country -- means bad news for any holiday travel anywhere.

With Vermont surrounded by “sea of red,” state officials Tuesday said fewer than 30 of the 3,100 counties nationwide would meet Vermont’s safety standards and suspended the state’s safe travel map. Add to that a grim picture in national COVID-19 projections.

“Yesterday, the U.S. passed 10 million coronavirus cases -- the most in the world. And it was also the fastest that we got to an additional million cases,” said Vt. DFR Commissioner Mike Pieciak, the state’s COVID data analyst. He showed a new graph with a sobering national forecast of 79% case growth in the next six weeks, reaching nearly 200,000 cases a day by mid-December if trends continue. “The country is trending in a very dangerous direction.”

In the Northeast, cases are projected to go up 105% percent in that same time frame. And locally, Vermont officials warn that forecasts show between 40 to 60 cases a day by mid-December. “We are truly on a threshold here,” said Vt. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine.

And officials again gave a strong warning about family gatherings during the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays in the form of data from our neighbors to the north. Canadian provinces that celebrated their Thanksgiving last month saw huge spikes in COVID-19 cases driven by small family gatherings. Other provinces that did not celebrate as much saw much lower case increases.

Levine says that’s why it’s up to Vermonters to make the hard choices to keep the state’s numbers from looking like the rest of the country. “I cannot say this enough -- to stop the spread and to protect each other we need to act. And as you’ve seen from the data, we need to act now,” he said.

The state also released its analysis of the average age of the people who are getting COVID-19 in Vermont -- today it sits at 35.

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