Officials worry record case count could strain Vermont’s hospital system


BURLINGTON, Vt. – On Thursday, Vermont reported 487 COVID-19 cases, marking a single-day record for the state. Six more deaths were reported, and 55 people were hospitalized, including 19 in intensive care.

With six of Vermont’s 14 counties reporting 40 or more cases, Gov. Phil Scott and other state officials are worried hospitalizations could continue to rise.

“If we stayed at this level of cases, based on our current hospitalization rate, there is potential to see the number of people currently hospitalized increase to over 80, which would be a significant strain on the system,”

Michael Pieciak, commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulation, said one year ago, the state saw a similar rise in cases. “You know, we’re only a few days out from Halloween and we’re already seeing our cases start to increase again,” he said.

Scott called on Vermonters to do their part in slowing this latest surge.

“We believe that if all Vermonters band together to make smart choices in the coming weeks, we can make sure that today’s uptick is not a trend that drives greater hospitalizations and deaths,” Governor Scott said. “But it takes all of us stepping up and committing to those smart choices, starting with getting vaccinated if you have not done so.”

UVM Medical Center recently created space to add 8 extended recovery beds and 12 inpatient beds. The Hospital’s Director of Nursing and Operations Resources said having that kind of flexibility is important.

“We have a good plan in place to make sure we’ve always got a few beds ahead waiting if we have COVID patients who need to come to the hospital. This just gives us more flexibility in our system to continue to be able to let people who don’t have COVID get access to the healthcare they need.”

Scott remains opposed to invoking a state of emergency, but said Vermonters need to think about what they can do to protect those at risk of hospitalizations and deaths.

“Get vaccinated, get your kids vaccinated and get your booster when eligible,” Governor Scott said. “Wear a mask when in indoor settings, even when vaccinated. Stay outside when you can, be mindful of the size of gatherings, encourage vaccination for guests at larger events and gatherings, use testing as a tool and stay home when you are sick.”

In addition, he urged people to get tested before visiting the elderly and medically vulnerable, and wear a mask indoors with them.

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