Vt. health officials say IT glitch to blame for COVID case spike

Vermont health officials say Thursday’s record-breaking spike in reported daily COVID cases was due to an IT glitch that delayed the delivery of some results.
Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 12:02 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 17, 2021 at 6:27 AM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont health officials say Thursday’s record-breaking spike in reported daily COVID cases was due to an IT glitch that delayed the delivery of some test results.

The Vermont Department of Health reported 314 new cases Thursday, far surpassing last March’s previous high of 266 daily cases. Officials say they continue to investigate how a vendor IT glitch that delayed the delivery of test results impacted the count, as well as previous days’ case counts.

The department monitors the time it takes from when specimens are collected for testing to when the results are reported back from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Review of the data from the past week showed an increase in the turnaround time that began with specimens collected on September 9. They say the glitch involved EllKay, an IT vendor working for Broad.

Vermont state epidemiologist Pasty Kelso says they reported all the cases Thursday to be transparent. “It’s most valid to report them on the day we receive them and in this case we put a note on it saying some of these cases would have been attributed to other days,” she said.

Officials say the issue has been fixed. But glitch or no glitch, Vermonters we spoke with were still rattled by the elevated case counts. “It’s definitely scary and is a bummer, especially for schools and high school students -- getting worried that school is going to shut down again,” said Anna Kudriabetz, a high school student from Montpelier.

Health officials say the high rates of transmission continue to be primarily driven by the delta variant spreading among unvaccinated Vermonters, but that models continue to show case counts trending downward in the coming weeks. “it’s something that we have to deal with,” Governor Scott said Thursday. He says hospitalizations aren’t at a crisis point and that is what continues to drive his decisions. Scott also says the Labor Day weekend could have contributed to the increased infections. “We relaxed all of the restrictions that we had before. We are moving around more, we just had Labor Day where a lot of activities happened and a lot of people were getting together,” he said.

Lt. Governor Molly Gray, D-Vermont, who has primarily supported the governor’s COVID response, on Thursday said the governor needs to clarify guidance on masking and social distancing. “And if it comes to a state of emergency, that may be the next step. I trust his determination of whether that’s necessary to keep Vermonters safe,” she said.

Many people we spoke with are choosing to mask up again, even if vaccinated. “I was 150% sure that it was over and I did not want to go back through what we went through again, but people’s health comes first,” said Brooks Duprey of Montpelier.

Officials say vaccinations are still the most effective way to curb the spread of the delta variant.

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