South Burlington hotel now a recovery site; health officials seek test to identify virus antibodies in Vermonters

Coronavirus

The Holiday Inn in South Burlington will be used as a primary site to isolate people who test positive for COVID-19.

Starting this week, people who test positive for the virus but do not require hospitalization, will be housed until health care providers determine it is safe for them to return home.

“That can mean a variety of populations from health care workers to others that don’t have a home to safely isolate,” said Michael Smith, secretary of the Agency Of Human Services.  “The COVID-19 pandemic is unlike anything our state and country has ever experienced. It’s going to take all of us working together to help our state and neighbors recover.”

The hotel can house up to 150 people and will be staffed with security. Guests currently housed there by the state’s emergency housing program will be relocated.

At Monday’s briefing on the state’s reponse to the pandemic, Gov. Phil Scott said the Holiday Inn will be used to house patients until his state of emergency is lifted, which he has extended until May 15. But he said the timeline will depend on those being cared for at the hotel.

Also on Monday, Health Commissioner Mark Levine said he has assigned a group of experts to investigate the most accurate serological test available. Serologic testing can indentify coronavirus antibodies in the blood and help determine how widely the virus has spread in the community, especially in people who do not show symptoms.

Levine said that, at this stage in the pandemic, it’s important to know who may be infected.

 “We will do this in Vermont, but in a scientifically and public health informed, deliberate, strategic, and evidence-based manner,” said Levine, who hopes to have a good test identified by the end of the week.

Scott said the evidence shows that social distancing is working to help contain the spred of the virus. According to Scott, Vermont is one of the top five states to comply with mitigation measures.

 “If these trends continue, and we continue to flatten the curve we will slowly be able to get back to normal,” he said. “Although, it may be a different normal than what we had before.”

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