Percentage of positive coronavirus tests increasing in Vermont

Published: Apr. 1, 2020 at 10:46 AM EDT
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The state's health commissioner said the news is not encouraging, but it is also not unexpected. Dr. Mark Levine reported that as of Tuesday, there were 28 new cases of the coronavirus in Vermont, for a total of 321. And there were a total of 16 deaths.

And Vermont is seeing a disturbing trend in our battle with coronavirus. Levine says the percentage of people tested for COVID-19 who come back positive is going up.

"You can see a distinct trend going in an upward direction of the percent of the, all the tests that are done that are positive and they're now in the 10 to 12% range. Way back early in the epidemic, uh, they were down less than 5%," Levine said.

That means we are seeing more lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in Vermont for two reasons: we are testing more people and because COVID-19 is becoming more prevalent.

Of the 16 total deaths in Vermont, Levine said two of the newest ones involved elderly people living in group situations such as nursing homes or senior living complexes.

When there is an outbreak in a facility, Levine said they try to separate people who have not been exposed. And the state's outbreak response team goes to these facilities to help. They have responded to eight facilities, so far. He says the number is growing and that shouldn't come as a surprise.

The health commissioner also reiterated that the state wants to test people for COVID-19 in a much more expansive way. He said the state wants to provide that testing with help from health care workers.

Levine talked about a recent update from the CDC regarding exposure risk. They say one can transmit the coronavirus while they are in the asymptomatic state or when they will perhaps never become symptomatic at all. Experts say growing evidence confirms this. So about 48 hours before symptoms appear, people could transmit the disease. So, if there's a case you're familiar with, trace that contact back to include the 48 hours before symptoms

The health commissioner said that means social distancing now is more important than ever because people who don't look sick could make you sick.