COVID-19 expected to peak in Vermont in mid-April or early May

Published: Apr. 2, 2020 at 5:40 PM EDT
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Vermont will likely hit its coronavirus peak in mid-April or early May. State officials on Thursday released their first estimates for the spread of the virus here. Our Cat Viglienzoni breaks down what we learned.

The state actually said the models for how the virus will spread and peak here are better than what they had thought. But they also said we aren't out of the woods yet. And that's why the state says they can't tell you when you'll be able to go back to your normal routines.

"People want definitiveness and specificity. We're trying to provide that to the greatest degree we can now," said Michael Pieciak, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation.

Pieciak warns their models are fluid but says there's evidence to prove that Vermonters' efforts to stay at home are working.

According to the models, if the trends continue as is, Vermont has enough hospital beds. But we'll need more ICU beds to meet the peak need. Right now, it appears we're short about 65 or so ICU beds.

We'll also need more ventilators, which the state assured us, yet again, are coming. We need an estimated 21 ventilators. But if the curve bends more toward the worst-case projections, we will need more. That's why the state says it's buying up more ventilators and other supplies, so they can try to be ready.

They say that's why it's crucial for Vermonters to keep away from others and follow the governor's orders.

We asked what all this data says about when businesses can reopen and you can leave your homes.

Reporter Cat Viglienzoni: What sort of timeframe can you put on this right now?

Vt. Human Services Secretary Mike Smith: I don't think we want to put a timeframe on this... I wish I could put a date on it. I wish I could say X amount and we're done. But I can't do that right now. In fact, it would be irresponsible for me to do that right now.

They did say that when they can ease restrictions on businesses and people, they will.

The state is preparing for the worst-case scenario by setting up surge facilities around the state. They announced seven more. The largest is at the Champlain Valley Expo with 400 beds. Spartan Arena in Rutland and UVM's Patrick Gym have 150 beds each. The Barre Civic Center and Collins Perley Sports Arena in St. Albans have 50 each. And there are two staged surge trailers at Brattleboro Memorial and Mount Ascutney in Windsor, each with 50 beds. Those will be used if hospitals reach capacity.