Vt. reopening key COVID surge sites as cases spike
MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) -- Vermont health officials are preparing for more COVID-related hospitalizations and reopening key surge sites as the virus broke the state’s one-day record for new cases set at the start of the pandemic.
The state of Vermont confirmed 72 new cases of coronavirus Wednesday, breaking the state’s projections by about a month. Officials say it all stems from small gatherings without masks and travelers not quarantining.
Madison Fry and her family are from Delaware and they’re on a road trip to Maine. They stopped at the Vermont Statehouse Wednesday for a photo-op along the way. They say they’re wearing masks and keeping their distance from others. “PA has a really high count. Deleware, considering how small it is, has a high count as well,” Fry said.
They say they didn’t know about Vermont’s new rules requiring all out-of-state travelers to quarantine two weeks until they saw it on a sign entering the state. Even as COVID cases across the country break records, they say aren’t planning on changing holiday plans. “We’re going to learn how to adapt to living in this era, but I don’t think it should stop people from what they want to do. We just need to learn to manage with the time we’re in,” Fry said.
Vermont’s spike in cases Wednesday prompted the state to once again prepare for surge plans administered by the National Guard. “We’re sort of re-gearing up again just like we did in March, but now we have a little more leisurely approach because we’ve done it once and we know how to do it,” said Vt. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine.
The surge site at the Champlain Valley Expo in Essex Junction is still up from the spring, but the state is now adding 100 new beds. And they’re staging a 50-bed field hospital near Rutland. Levine says everyone needs to be aware of potentially carrying and spreading the virus -- even young people. “The last thing we want is to have more of those individuals become ill, require hospitalizations, or God forbid, die,” he said.
The spike in cases comes a day after the governor announced a mandatory two-week quarantine for all travelers and residents coming into the state. A restriction that is expected to hit the state’s already beleaguered hospitality industry.
At Three Penny Taproom in Montpelier, managers like Jay Bothwelo, say that even with the new rules, they have the PPE, mandatory contact tracing, and other health measures in place that can allow them to keep operating through the winter. “There’s a burden of restaurants and business to go above and beyond what the governor is calling for safety protocols, but we’re cautiously optimistic,” he said. And he hopes other restaurants will follow suit.
As Vermonters spend more time indoors, health officials are urging them to get tested if they attend social gatherings or travel out of state.
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