As case counts rise, Vermont adds staff for contact tracing

Coronavirus

Vermont reported 139 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, for a statewide total since the pandemic began of over 30,580. One death was reported, bringing the total to 291.

Meanwhile, state officials are boosting staff for contact tracing amid a recent rise in COVID-19 cases, state officials said. Human Services Secretary Mike Smith says the state had hired a contractor in the spring to allow some state workers who had been doing contract tracing to return to their jobs.

“The contract calls for them to increase their workforce as COVID-positive case counts rise. Recently, they failed to do that sufficiently leaving the state to fill the gap,” he said.

The state has increased its staffing to 104 full-time equivalent employees doing contact tracing and other related duties, including reaching out to close contacts and to businesses and schools, Smith said.

“We will continue to add state workers, our National Guard service members and additional contracted employees as needed,” he said.

On Wednesday, 39 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, including ten who were in intensive care, the Vermont Health Department reported.

The state is urging Vermonters who want to be tested for the virus to again make appointments rather than walk into a test site, as the state investigates reports of delays in receiving results amid a recent surge in cases.

“Now we are transitioning back to appointments because just showing up in a higher demand environment causes people to wait,” Smith says.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Vermont has risen over the past two weeks from 137.57 on Aug. 30 to 150.14 on Sept. 13.

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