Has Vermont hit its COVID-19 peak?

Published: Apr. 15, 2020 at 6:54 AM EDT
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As of Wednesday in Vermont, there are 759 known cases of COVID-19, 33 people are hospitalized with the disease, 30 are hospitalized and being investigated for the disease, and 30 people in the state have died.

Those numbers are encouraging for state officials who on Wednesday indicated we may be at our peak for coronavirus cases. But as our Cat Viglienzoni explains, they're not declaring victory just yet.

A map from the University of Washington indicates Vermont, New Hampshire and New York may be past peak. So we asked Vermont officials if we had already hit our peak number of cases and how they would know when we were through the worst of it.

"There's clearly a tendency towards a plateauing," Vt. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said.

Wednesday, Levine said the most recent models show this week could be Vermont's COVID-19 peak.

"We've been kind of at a level set for a number of days now," Levine said.

Reporter Cat Viglienzoni: What data would you need to see to say whether we have or have not?

Dr. Mark Levine: I'm going to be very cautious about how I say this, but cautiously say that perhaps we are in that peak zone and at that time of a plateauing.

Levine said they're looking at what kinds of hospital resources are being used for COVID-19 patients. They're also looking at new case data from the health department. The curve of total cases hasn't risen much at all in the past few days. That's because there aren't many new cases being added.

"I'd like to see the rest of this week go by to the beginning of next week before we get more definitive on that, but that's where we're leaning toward," Levine said.

On our current trajectory, it appears we won't need some of our more extreme resources like surge sites. Wednesday, Levine said only one person was using surge sites built for 900. But when we asked when they would close, Human Services Secretary Mike Smith said they're going to be very cautious.

"We will close the medical surge sites when we have reason to believe that we are truly on the downturn," Smith said.

Gov. Phil Scott said because of how close we are to New York and Boston, we're not in the clear.

"We have to be careful that there is enough protection in place for this not to start another fire here in Vermont. So, that's why we're being cautious, being careful," said Scott, R-Vermont.

One thing the health commissioner said we're going to have to be careful about going forward, given the lower number of people who have gotten the virus, is containment of any cases that do pop up until effective treatments or a vaccine become available. That may include extending elements of social distancing.

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