Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said Tuesday that coronavirus cases at two Vermont schools can be traced to the outbreak at a Montpelier hockey rink.
The health department has confirmed cases in at least a half -dozen Vermont schools, including two — Union Elementary School and Oxbow High School — where the cases are linked to recreational hockey and broomball leagues at Central Vermont Memorial Civic Center. Health officials the number of cases tied to the youth and adult leagues has reached nearly three dozen.
Levine said the virus was spread through activities that include team gatherings and carpools. “It appears that the outbreak we’re talking about in Central Vermont was most likely due to the kinds of activities teams may do together that don’t always occur on the ice,” he said.
Levine said the outbreak has not yet been contained, but that there is no reason for panic. Containment efforts are underway, he said, including contact tracing, testing and, when called for, quarantining.
“I don’t want people to get the idea that not contained means out of control, though, because it’s far from that,” he said.
Last week, Levine said cases identified in schools were tied to the community and not transmission between students and teachers. That’s no longer the case, he said Tuesday, although he did not criticize school officials. He said the schools have arranged students in pods with specific teachers, making it easier to notify the children and staff most at risk.
“For the first time, transmission occurred within the school,” he said. “Now, that doesn’t mean a school wasn’t doing what a school should do in terms of guidance.”
At Tuesday’s bi-weekly briefing by Gov. Phil Scott and administration officials, Michael Pieciak, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation, said Vermont is doing well well compared to states such as Maine and New Hampshire, where school-related cases exceed 100.
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