College Restart in Vermont a ‘Huge Success,' Officials Say

Another 15,000 tests were administered at higher education institutions in Vermont, with five coming back positive

With the backdrop of the anniversary of September 11, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott encouraged people to embody similar humanity and courage in this pandemic that helped the country through the terrorists attacks.

"We saw firsthand that when we work towards a common purpose, as Americans, we can do almost anything as we seek the answers to how we get through those unprecedented times," Scott said. "It's so important for us to be united, because the fact is, this is going to be with us until there's a safe vaccine in place."

Officials declared the first of a three-phased plan to reopen colleges a "huge success," Friday.

Another 15,000 tests were administered at higher education institutions in Vermont, with five coming back positive, according to Financial Regualtion Commissioner Michael Pieciak. Over 42,000 tests have been administered since the college restart, including 38 positives, for a .09 percent positivity rate.

"We're now really through that restart period and onto that monitoring period," Pieciak said. "It's really good to see these results as we continue on through the semester."

The first step in the three-pronged approach was to ensure that the students do not arrive on campus infected. Now the focus will be on steps two and three, officials said, which involve preventing infection and then quickly identifying and isolating cases when they arise.

The majority of students came from the northeast and were tested before they came to school, were quarantined or tested when they arrived.

Vermont continues to have the lowest positivity rate in the nation for the last seven days, and the lowest prevalence rate since the start of the pandemic, according to Pieciak. The state reported 30 new cases of coronavirus this week, down from 45 the week prior.

Pieciak noted that the low case count is "particularly good," as K through 12 schools restarted this week and students have returned to college campuses.

Health Commissioner Mark Levine noted that the U.S. Centers for Disease and Prevention again acknowledged Vermont's contact tracing efforts as the best in the nation.

Scott extended the state of emergency in Vermont Friday as a vehicle to continue to manage and suppress this coronavirus while supporting workers and families.

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