State officials say Vermont needs more supplies to fight coronavirus

MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) As of Wednesday, Vermont has 123 cases of coronavirus and eight people have died, most of them connected to Burlington Health and Rehab.

State officials reiterated again on Wednesday that we will see more cases and more deaths.

Our Cat Viglienzoni was at Wednesday's press conference where state officials said they believe we don't have enough supplies to fight the virus. They say as they prepare for all scenarios, the best to the worst, they are confident they'll need way more.

"The appearance of the graph is more important than the numbers," said Dr. Mark Levine, Vermont's health commissioner.

Levine pointed to the latest data showing our coronavirus cases are rising exponentially. And he says they will only get higher.

"I'm very concerned about the slope of that curve," Levine said. "And I'm very concerned in our small state about the number of deaths we have had."

We also got an update on treatment spaces and equipment.

Vermont has:

-575 total hospital beds

-163 ventilators

-78,000 N95 masks

-88,000 surgical masks

"These numbers I gave you are not enough," Vt. Human Services Secretary Mike Smith said.

Smith warned that they need to prepare for any possible scenario.

"I think, at a minimum, we need to double all the numbers I just gave you," he said.

Vt. Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling says they're buying equipment as fast as they can.

"We've bought millions of dollars in ventilators over the last few days. We have 202 that are inbound to Vermont. The timelines for delivery aren't known yet. But we're buying them as fast as possible. The same with PPE. As many as we can find, we are buying. People are asking how many do we need. The answer is-- as many as we can get a hold of," Schirling said.

Levine says they're looking at data from other countries as they try to predict how the coronavirus will affect us here. He says he's confident the governor's decision to tell people to stay in place is the right call to slow the spread.

"The impact of what we're going to do will lead to a far more favorable end result than if we had done nothing at all," Levine said. "It will work."

But he said he does not have answers to the most pressing question looming over Vermonters and the nation: How long will this last?

"I wish I had the very crystal clear answers for you. But we don't have those answers. Not as a national community or a global community," Levine said.

While he doesn't know how long this will last, we repeatedly heard officials on Wednesday say they believe this will be a monthslong process, not just a couple of weeks.