Vermont health officials announced 20 new cases of the coronavirus on Saturday, including seven at a nursing home, bringing the state total to 49.
The Vermont Department of Health reported seven residents of the Burlington Health & Rehabilitation Center have tested positive for COVID-19. None of the residents, ranging in age from 60s to 80s, have required hospitalization.
“All of us at the Health Department are deeply concerned with the news of these additional positive cases” said Dr. Mark Levine. “Unfortunately, this new coronavirus can be very serious, especially for vulnerable Vermonters, and we have seen long-term care facilities across the country struggle to contain the virus.”
Health officials say the Burlington Health & Rehabilitation Center has been following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on treatment and isolation of COVID-19 patients since Monday, March 16.
Health Department epidemiologists have been on site and issued updated guidance for the facility, as well as for all long-term care facilities statewide with a known infection.
Officials have prioritized identifying and testing any symptomatic patients and health care workers at the Burlington nursing home following the initial positive tests. The facility is checking the temperature of all staff before they enter the building and having employees who are symptomatic stay at home.
“This is perhaps the most complex public health event most Vermonters have experienced,” Dr. Levine said.
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Of the other new cases reported Saturday, people range in age from 20s to 80s. At least three of the people have been hospitalized, according to health officials. Two men in their 80s from Franklin County are hospitalized at Northwestern Vermont Medical Center, while a woman in her 50s from Windham County is hospitalized at Cheshire Medical Center.
Other counties represented in the new cases include Chittenden, Addison, and Windsor.
Identifying information for four of the 20 new cases announced Saturday was not known.
The Health Department says it continues to prioritize testing samples from health care workers who are symptomatic, people who are hospitalized, residents of long-term care facilities, people who are immunocompromised, and other high-risk groups.
"I can’t repeat this enough – It is extremely important for all of us, young and old, to take extra care to help protect the people most vulnerable to serious illness – older Vermonters and people with chronic illnesses or who have impaired immunity,” Dr. Levine said.
Earlier Saturday, Gov. Phil Scott announced new community measures in an effort to mitigate the coronavirus outbreak. This includes all gymnasiums, fitness centers and similar exercise facilities, hair salons and barbers, nail salons, spas and tattoo parlors closing their door by Monday night.
Gov. Scott said the new restrictions are being implemented in an attempt to protect those most at risk and to slow the spread of the virus.
There have been two coronavirus-related deaths in the state so far. In addition to the two Vermont deaths, there have been seven deaths in New England - five in Connecticut and two in Massachusetts. There are more than 21,000 confirmed cases of the virus in the United States and at least 254 deaths nationwide as of Saturday afternoon.