Four elderly residents of a Burlington nursing home — one of whom died Thursday — are among seven newly reported cases of COVID-19 in Vermont.
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According to figures released Friday by the Department of Health, a total of 29 people in Vermont have tested positive for the virus. Two people have died, including a woman in her 80s who was a resident at Burlington Health & Rehab, a long-term care facility.
Three other residents of the facility tested positive Thursday, the department said — a man and a woman in their 80s and a man in his 70s. None of three cases so far require hospitalization.
The facility is home to over 80 elderly residents. Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger said a significant number of people connected to the facility have symptoms right now.
A scenario like this is the exact thing Weinberger and other officials were hoping to avoid, but now he’s calling on State leaders to ensure everything in their power is being done to address it – particularly when it comes to following CDC guidelines.
“Facilities with confirmed cases should be isolating infected or suspected infected patients in separate, well-ventilated triage areas or private rooms with a closed door and private bathroom if possible,” Weinberger said.
According to Weinberger, State Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine told him people are working towards isolating infected and suspected infected patients at the facility. He re-assured the mayor that residents and healthcare workers who are symptomatic will be tested.
Weinberger wants the city to be involved in Burlington Health and Rehab’s calls with families of its residents going forward.
“I really want to be able to speak directly to all the impacted families,” Weinberger said. “I want them to know that we are in this with them.”
Burlington Health & Rehabilitation Center reported the inital positive case Tuesday. In response, the facility outlined steps it said staff were taking to prevent the spread of the virus, including restricting visitors and canceling communal dining and other activities. Employees who had contact with the infected patient were sent home for 14 days.
“We are currently receiving regular updates on the latest admission screening guidelines and infection control protocols,” said spokesperson Lori Mayer in a statement. “Everything we are doing is in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Public Health.”
Relatives told Local 22 that they were worried about the facility’s ability to contain the spread of virus. One man, who did not want to be named to protect his relative’s privacy, said he feels helpless to protect his 95-year-old mother from the disease.
“The 5th floor is where this all occurred, and my mother is on the 5th floor and she’s 95 so you know I’m worried about her,” he said. “If they get infected they’re going to die.”
A Windsor County man in his 20s and a man in his 40s from Windham County also tested positive, the department reported. Neither require hospital care.