Vermont is seeing a plateau in coronavirus cases, Gov. Phil Scott said Monday, but he is still urging residents to remain at home.
"While we’ve seen a flattening of the curve, we still don’t know if we’ve reached the peak," Scott said, "so as difficult as it is, we must continue to stay home so we don’t overwhelm our hospital system."
The number of new cases per day is getting smaller and seems to be leveling off, Scott said in a news conference.
Scott said there had been one additional coronavirus-related death and 21 new cases out of a total of almost 500 tests performed in Vermont, as of Sunday.
The latest data brought the state's total number of cases of the novel coronavirus to 748, including 28 deaths.
Health Commissioner Mark Levine urged people to wear masks in public, warning that failure to do so puts them at "extreme risk" of contracting or spreading the disease in a pre-symptomatic phase.
The update came after Scott extended Vermont's state of emergency status Friday to last until May 15. It had been set to expire on April 15. The state of emergency includes the Vermont's stay-at-home order. Schools remain closed through the end of the school year.
"I know that extending the state of emergency was a disappointment for many,” Scott said. "I can’t say this enough - your sacrifices are making a difference."
"I want to be clear," Scott said, "We will continue to watch the trends and hospital capacity so that as soon as we can begin to dial back some of these steps in a measured, responsible manner, we will."
In addition to existing testing and containment efforts, a working group of health officials are looking at serologic testing, which involves testing blood for antibodies to the coronavirus. The result can determine whether someone may have had the illness but were asymptomatic, according to Levine.
"As we enter this plateau phase now and hopefully a deceleration phase to follow, it will be more important to assess who has antibodies to the coronavirus for a whole bunch of reasons," Levine said. "We want to move on this front as fast as possible."
Though it remains unclear what immunity will look like, Levine said, these tests could help prioritize who should get a vaccine when one becomes available and how widespread the disease is in the state.
Levine created the working group over the weekend, comprised of infectious disease clinicians, primary care physicians, laboratory experts and public health surveillance experts, who have been charged with issuing a recommendation by late Thursday.
Scott also announced Friday that lodging operators would be allowed to accept registrations after June 15 and that he had directed the Department of Motor Vehicles to extend vehicle inspections due in April for another 60 days.