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Vt. COVID modeling reveals dangers of ignoring guidelines

Published: Nov. 24, 2020 at 7:48 AM EST
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont health officials Tuesday gave dire warnings of rapid COVID case growth and a surge in hospital visits if people don’t abide by travel and gathering guidelines for Thanksgiving.

“What might happen if Vermonters don’t follow the public health guidelines? The results are quite alarming and quite scary, actually,” said DFR DFR Commissioner Mike Pieciak.

“That was as worst a case scenario as you could draw. Clearly, if it got to the worst-case scenario, that would be a very dire place,” said Vt. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine.

According to state modeling, 40% of Vermont’s total cases have been just in the month of November -- more than in March through July of the pandemic. That number is especially worrisome with Thanksgiving just two days away. Cases are already expected to go up 41 percent in Vermont over the next four weeks. That’s actually a better forecast than last week, when it was projected to go up 50 percent. But it still puts Vermont at a high of about 150 cases a day by late December.

They say the state is already seeing some benefits from the new mitigation measures. Cases appear to have stabilized a bit, even gone down slightly. State leaders cautioned it’s still early on in this, but it shows what is possible when people follow the guidance. Nationally, 38% of people have indicated that they may not follow the guidance. And if 38% of Vermonters don’t follow the multi-household gatherings ban -- the state says we’ll have up to 3,800 new cases on top of the original forecasts, and about 40 to 50 new hospitalizations.

Under the worst-case scenario, Vermont could see a spike to upwards of 400 cases per day by the end of the first week of December if 38% of people gather for Thanksgiving. Following the guidelines, modeling shows the state staying between 100-200 cases per day.

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