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Spike in Vt. cases worse than spring, but state better prepared

Published: Nov. 13, 2020 at 5:37 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Governor Scott said new restrictions put in place Friday were based on the data from rising cases in Vermont. But is the caseload worse now than this spring or are we just better at catching the cases?

With 84 new COVID-19 cases reported Friday, a record 109 cases Thursday, and 72 on Wednesday, Vermont is seeing higher numbers than when the state shut down to stop the spread in March.

Vt. Heath Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine Friday said one thing is for sure -- there clearly is more virus in our communities. He says it’s always been here, but with more people moving gatherings indoors, letting their guard down, and partying on Halloween, conditions were right for the virus to surge.

We asked if it’s as bad as it was this past spring, even though lower case numbers were reported back then. “I think that in the very, very early -- March, April -- yes,” Levine said.

What we didn’t have then was an aggressive, widespread testing strategy to catch all the cases. But robust testing was in place all summer with low case counts. So, while Levine says testing helps document the cases, it’s peoples' behaviors that are causing them to rise. “The fact of the matter is, there’s more virus around and the virus that was always around is getting transmitted person-to-person,” Levine said.

So why not shut down completely? It also comes down to the data. AHS Secretary Mike Smith says hindsight allows them to be more surgical about what they restrict.

“When we entered into March, we were building the airplane as we were flying it,” Smith said. “In this instance, and in this spike, we’ve got the infrastructure in place, we’ve got the airplane built. What we have to do is make sure we fly through this turbulence in the best method that we can,” he said.

The other reason they’re in a better place is preparedness. Dr. Levine says we entered this recent surge with sufficient PPE, large amounts of testing, and adequate contact tracing, which means they don’t have to take as drastic of actions.

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