Two people who tested positive for the disease caused by the new coronavirus have died in Vermont, Gov. Phil Scott said at a news conference Thursday evening.
Both were elderly, Scott said. They are the state's first two coronavirus-related deaths.
"While their exact causes of death will be determined by the state's medical examiner, the fact that they had tested positive for COVID-19 is going to be concerning to many Vermonters, so I thought it was important to address it tonight," Scott said.
He noted that the virus is most dangerous to seniors and people with underlying conditions like lung and heart disease. He called the news sad but not unexpected, and a reminder that everyone in the state needs to do their part to prevent the coronavirus' spread.
Vermont health officials had reported 22 coronavirus cases in the state earlier Thursday.
Health Commissioner Mark Levine noted the deaths came fewer than two weeks after the first coronavirus case was reported in the state.
COVID-19 prompted Scott to declare a state of emergency last week. Schools closed this week in a bid to slow down the disease's spread, leaving nonprofits like Billings Farm & Museum to fill a void for learning.
The agriculture education center has been offering take-home bags twice a week for young children.
“I know this is a time when there’s a lot of uncertainty and parents are struggling, so anything we can do for families we thought would be a great thing to do,” said Christine Scales of Billings Farm & Museum.