Vt. Transplant Recipient Thanks Those Staying Home: ‘It's Very Much Appreciated'

Nine people in Vermont have died after being diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, and 158 people have tested positive for it overall, health officials said.

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The recipient of a double lung transplant is expressing gratitude to her fellow Vermonters who are following the new “stay home, stay safe” executive order from Gov. Phil Scott.

Thursday was the first full day the order was in effect.

“It’s very much appreciated that people are taking this seriously,” said Lara Govendo, discussing the directive to cut way back on in-person interactions as Vermont urgently tries to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

Govendo has cystic fibrosis and received a double lung transplant, explaining in an interview Thursday with NECN & NBC10 Boston that her life-sustaining medication has left her with a really fragile immune system.

For that reason, Govendo said she was grateful to hear from the news stations that they witnessed much less traffic than normal traveling around the Burlington area and many fewer people out and about.

“Right now, we’re all being called to look outside of ourselves and have the opportunity to protect our neighbor and our loved ones,” Govendo observed of the need for everyone to take responsibility for keeping themselves and others healthy.

More than 1,100 coronavirus tests have been conducted in Vermont.

On Thursday, the Vermont Department of Health announced the state’s ninth death in a person diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

The department also reported Thursday that the number of known COVID-19 cases increased to 158, up from 123 known cases Wednesday.

A number of businesses that provide essential products or services may stay open under the executive order, including grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and hardware stores.

We have a lot of updates today on government action being taken to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, and an exclusive interview with a woman who is stuck quarantined in a Chinese hotel for two weeks.

However, businesses that are staying open are making big changes.

“We’re all in this together,” said Burlington restaurant owner Earl Handy, whose lunch counter now offers curbside pickup and window service only.

Handy does a wipe-down of the pen after credit card transactions and provides a squirt of hand sanitizer to customers.

“To not take it seriously would be a mistake, I think,” one of Handy’s customers, Mike Jacquinto, said of the “stay home, stay safe” order.

A Vermont distillery is stepping in to help with the severe shortage of hand santizer in New England.

At Lunaroma, a big chunk of the aromatherapy shop’s sales come from handcrafted premium soaps — both to wholesale accounts and individual customers.

“We all know soap is incredibly important right now,” Lunaroma's DaMarla Von Tipton said of a key way to protect against the new coronavirus. “It’s important to get soap out there.”

With the store now temporarily closed to the public, it’s selling products via shipping, local delivery and pickups only.

Von Tipton said staffers disinfect a table every time someone grabs an order from outside the doors of Lunaroma.

For all the Vermonters taking handwashing and limiting time outside the home so seriously, lung transplant recipient Lara Govendo said thank you—for doing your part to keep COVID-19 from reaching people like her.

“One more death is one too many, because it’s somebody’s loved one,” Govendo said of the need to keep the disease from reaching vulnerable populations.

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