Live Updates: COVID-19 in the Champlain Valley

Coronavirus

The latest news on the coronavirus outbreak in Vermont and the North Country.

Wednesday, April 1

Posted: 10:57 p.m.

Nationwide initiative to feed hungry clinicians, boost local restaurants to debut in Vermont

It’s called Frontline Foods, and it’s operating in more than a dozen cities to support both local clinicians and local restaurants that are struggling since Gov. Phil Scott’s directive to restrict service to take-out and delivery.

With help from community donations, local restaurants will receive money to cook individually packaged meals which will then be delivered to critical care workers at UVMMC. To start, organizers are aiming for deliveries about 3-4 times a week to about 50 emergency room and ICU staff members.

Posted: 8:43 p.m

Outbreak response teams monitoring COVID-19 cases at 8 Vermont group-living facilities

The Vermont Department of Health’s outbreak response teams are monitoring COVID-19 cases at eight nursing homes or senior-living centers in the Burlington area.

The facilities are:

  • Burlington Health and Rehab, Burlington;
  • Birchwood Terrace Rehab and Healthcare, Burlington;
  • The Residence at Quarry Hill, South Burlington;
  • Lancaster at O’Brien Farm, South Burlington;
  • Pinecrest at Essex, Essex Junction;
  • Taft Farms Senior Living Community, Williston;
  • Shelburne House, Williston;
  • UVM Health Network Home Health and Hospice, Colchester. 

At a news briefing Wednesday, Health Commissioner Mark Levine said the outbreaks should not be considered unusual under the circumstances.

“We’re behind many states in terms of the number of facilities, thank goodness, that have had a case, but this is something that we’re going to be seeing as an increased trend,” Levine said.

Posted: 1:24 p.m.

COVID-19 deaths in Vermont now at 16; total cases rise to 321

Levine said the four latest deaths include two people who were in the hospital, and two people living in group settings — one in a nursing home and one in a senior living facility. Health officials said test results show 28 new cases since Tuesday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 321.

Related Video: Outbreak response teams are monitoring 8 Vermont locations

At least three deaths were at Pinecrest at Essex, a 55-and-over apartment complex in Essex Junction. Two of the people who died were residents; one was the significant other of an employee at the facility. An outbreak at Burlington Health & Rehab, a long-term care facility, has claimed six residents who tested positive for COVID-19.

More: Charting the outbreak in Vermont and New Hampshire

Tuesday, March 31

Posted: 10:26 p.m.

Vermont scrambles to process “unprecedented” rush of unemployment claims

The Vermont Department of Labor has received more unemployment claims in the past two-and-a-half weeks than it does in a typical year, and it’s put a strain on an already aging system.

Michael Harrington, the Labor Department’s interim commissioner, said nearly 15,000 Vermonters have submitted initial claims for benefits as the coronavirus outbreak has forced many Vermont businesses to close or scale back operations, leading to layoffs.

“Vermont, just like many other states, has seen an increase that is unprecedented,” Harrington said. “We’ve doubled and tripled staff in our call center, we’ve set up supplementary lines, we’re also providing many of our forms online as well.”

Posted: 8:26 p.m.

Spirit Airlines suspending Plattsburgh service until May

Spirit is suspending service at four other airports — two in New York, one in New Jersey and Bradley International Airport in Hartford, Connecticut. A travel advisory by the Centers for Disease Control warns against non-essential travel to and from those states.

Posted: 7:21 p.m.

Coronavirus disrupts wedding plans, but getting to the altar is still possible

There are a lot of anxious brides and grooms these days. They have spent months planning their weddings and, with the coronavirus pandemic upending life in Vermont and around the globe, they are suddenly faced with uncertainty.

Some couples have decided to continue with their plans for the big day by streaming their wedding online for their guests. Others have decided to postpone it.

Posted: 7:14 p.m.

Burlington mayor announces new strategies in response to COVID-19 pandemic

 On Tuesday, Mayor Miro Weinbger said the city has designated a ten person COVID- 19 analytics team that will track state and federal legislation related to the outbreak. The team will also start planning relief strategies.

The city has also purchaed 100 forehead thermometers for essential businesses in Burlington. He said the city was able to purchase 100 to be used throughout Burlington.

“We are using them to secure city sites,” Weinberger said. “The EOC has one, you can’t get into the EOC without getting your temperature taken. Same thing with Burlington Police Department. But we have more than we need for city operations alone.”

Posted: 3:28 p.m.

Vermont COVID-19 cases jump by more than three dozen, with one new death

State health officials on Tuesday reported 37 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of people who have tested positive for the virus to 293. The number of deaths rose by one to a total of 13.

The latest death was the third since the weekend at Pinecrest at Essex, a 55-and-over apartment complex in Essex Junction. Two of the people who died, including the most recent person, were residents; one was the significant other of an employee at the facility.

Health Commissioner Mark Levine said the Health Department is advising Pinecrest residents to stay out of common rooms, such as the laundry and mail rooms. He said those who have had contact with tconfirmed cases have been isolated and told to contact their doctor if they develop symptoms

The number of new cases reported Tuesday are the most in a single day since the global outbreak first reached Vermont on March 7. The increase may be an indication of the state’s increased testing capacity.

Late last week, Health Commissioner Mark Levine announced that “strategic procurement” of test kits and related supplies would allow the state to test more Vermonters who have mild or moderate symptoms of COVID-19. On Sunday, the Vermont National Guard opened a drive-through testing center in Putney, on the campus of Landmark College.

State officials continue to investigate a deadly outbreak at Burlington Health & Rehab, a long-term care facility where at least six residents have died after testing positive for COVID-19.

Also on Monday, Gov. Phil Scott directed anyone entering the state to self-quarantine for two weeks and asked out-of-state residents to refrain from visiting Vermont unless they have to.

Video: “If you don’t need to come to Vermont, please don’t”

The governor also ordered all hotels, bed & breakfasts, campgrounds and short-term rentals like AirBnBs to close, and he suspended online lodging reservation systems.

The governor ordered VTrans and the Vermont and the Department of Motor Vehicles to post the new travel guidelines at major points of entry into the state, on highway message boards and at Burlington International Airport and other Vermont airports.

“This will help protect those currently in the state while allowing people who own a home or have a family to be here as well,” Scott said. “As Americans we’re all in this together, and we all have a role in keeping everyone safe.”

Monday, March 30

Posted: 6:54 p.m.

Burlington officials say social distancing is working, relief on the way for small businesses

Luke McGowan, director of the Community Economic Development Office, said financial relief is on the way for small businesses in the Queen City. CEDO announced $110,000 in grants available immediately. McGowan said the checks will be out within a month.

“We know it’s not enough, but it’s a start,” he said. “We do want to use this also as a way to understand the need that’s out there in the community.”

Posted: 6:24 p.m.

Vermont officials monitoring virus outbreak at Essex senior complex after two deaths

At a news briefing Monday, Health Commissioner Mark Levine said one of the deaths at Pinecrest at Essex, a complex for people who are 55 or older, was a resident. The other victim was described as the “signifcant other” of a staff member.

Levine said the Health Department is advising Pinecrest residents to stay out of common rooms, such as the laundry and mail rooms. He said those who have had contact with the initial case has been isolated and have been told to contact their doctor if they develop symptoms

A total of 12 people in Vermont have died since the outbreak began. At least six deaths were residents or patients at Burlington Health & Rehab, a long-term care facility.

More Video: Levine confirms two people have died at Pinecrest at Essex

Posted: 5:16 p.m.

Cuomo pleads for medical help amid New York’s ‘staggering’ death toll

New York’s governor and health officials warned that the crisis unfolding in New York City is just a preview of what other communities across the U.S. could soon face.

“Please come help us in New York now,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said as the state’s death toll climbed by more than 250 in a single day for a total of more than 1,200 victims, most of them in the city. He said an additional 1 million health care workers are needed to tackle the crisis.

“We’ve lost over 1,000 New Yorkers,” Cuomo said. “To me, we’re beyond staggering already. We’ve reached staggering.”

Posted: 1:21 p.m.

Scott asks out-of-state visitors to stay away; orders mandatory quarantine for returning Vermonters

Gov. Phil Scott on Monday asked out-of-state residents not to travel to Vermont if they don’t need to be here, and he directed Vermonters who return home to self-quarantine for two weeks.

The governor also ordered all hotels, bed & breakfasts, campagrounds and short-term rentals like AirBnBs to close, and he suspended online lodging reservation systems.

Sunday, March 29

Posted: 9:48 p.m.

New Hampshire reports third virus death; update on Vermont response due Monday

The victim was a woman in her 60s from Rockingham County who had underlying health issues, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. The department recorded 44 additional cases Sunday, bringing the total for the Granite State to 258.

The Vermont Department of Health reported two dozen new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the state’s total to 235. A total of 12 people have died. Gov. Phil Scott’s office has scheduled a news conference at 11 a.m. Monday.

Posted: 9:33 p.m.

Non-essential businesses in New York to remain closed until at least April 15

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has extended his order two weeks. It will also apply to non-essential state employees who have ordered to work and to all non-essential gatherings.

Cuomo said that while New York now has nearly 60,000 cases of coronavirus, he believes the virus has not yet reached its apex in the state. On several occasions this week, the governor mentioned that he was expecting the apex to arrive within the next two to three weeks.

Saturday March, 28

Posted: 9:51 p.m.

COVID-19 testing site to open Sunday in Putney

Health officials said in an email Saturday night that the site at Landmark College in Putney will be open from 8-3 p.m. daily, depending on the availability of testing supplies. You’ll need to have a referral from a doctor or a nurse to be tested there.

Posted: 9:01 a.m.

Q&A: Here’s how your federal coronavirus relief check will work

Congress has passed an unprecedented $2 trillion economic rescue package in an effort to stabilize the country’s households and businesses as the coronavirus pandemic spreads.

Perhaps the most talked-about provision of the bill — known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act — is its direct cash payments to Americans.

Friday, March 27

Posted: 6:46 p.m.

How one North Country school district is making the switch to remote learning

At Beekmantown Central School District they are taking remote learning to a whole other level. They are using technology to be creative and connect in ways they haven’t before.

The district even made a parody to Taylor Swifts hit song, You Need to Calm Down. The video features teachers and kids from the elementary school. They called the parody, You Need to Stay Home.

Thursday, March 26

Posted: 1:02 a.m.

New Hampshire issues stay-at-home order as lawmakers worry about medical supply shortage

Gov. Chris Sununu’s decision to issue the stay-at-home order came one day after 200 New Hampshire House Democrats sent a letter urging the governor to take action.

“These are tough decisions, they really are,” Sununu said Thursday. “But at the end of the day we know that the worst may still be ahead of us. It will take sacrifice, but New Hampshire is resilient and we will get through it.”

Meanwhile, Senators Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen held a telephone town hall Thursday evening to discuss what they say is a critical shortage of medical and other supplies. IN a letter to federal officials, they that many of the supplies they have received are unusable. For instance, more than 16,000 gloves could not be used due to latex allergy concerns.

Posted: 10:43 p.m.

Coronavirus Tracker: Charting the outbreak in Vermont and New Hampshire

A nationwide shortage of tests has made it difficult to know exactly how many confirmed cases there are. But here’s what we know so far about the outbreaks in Vermont and New Hampshire.

The data is updated daily from the Vermont and New Hampshire health departments.

Posted: 7:39 p.m.

Plattsburgh mayor: ‘I don’t want people to be scared’

Mayor Colin Read said about 40 percent of the confirmed cases in Clinton County are people age 60 and older, a population that is particularly vulnerable to the virus. On Thursday, Read tried to calm the fears of county residents, saying he is hopeful they will come together.

“I want people to be charged up and understanding that we are going to have to work hard to solve this together.”

Read urged residents to follow New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s order to stay at home and for all employees of non-essential businesses to work remotely. He encouraged residents to shop less frequently and at off-hours to prevent the spread of the virus.

Posted: 7:36 p.m.

Coronavirus poses unique threat to Vermont 7th grader with Crohn’s

Kiera Nestler has Crohn’s Disease, and while routine treatments help her manage the illness, they also weaken her immune system, making her more vulnerable to common colds and viruses.

Taking extra precautions is nothing new for the 7th grader, but the coronavirus outbreak has taken it to a new level.

“I’m pretty scared,” she said. “You know you cant leave the house, you can’t go outside really without the risk of being exposed to it,” Kiara said. “If I get the virus I could die, there’s a very good chance I could die.”

Posted: 6:02 p.m.

Vermont K-12 schools are officially closed for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year

Districts will close schools for in-person instruction and be required to implement continuity of learning plans for remote learning. Gov. Phil Scott had previously ordered PreK-12 schools closed from March 18 to April 6 in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The decision is the state’s latest effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Schools have been directed to develop more comprehensive plans for distance learning by April 13. Scott said he recognizes that “it will be challenging for some schools to implement remote learning through the end of the year.

“But I’m encouraged by the creativity I’ve seen from administrators, educators and parents already, which is why I know, together, they can rise to the occasion.”

Posted: 4 p.m.

Health officials: 35 new COVID-19 cases in Vermont; one more person has died

The number of people who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Vermont rose to 158, an increase of nearly three dozen since Wednesday and the largest one-day spike in new cases since the first positive test was reported March 7.

One more person in Vermont has died, according to the latest figures from the Vermont Department of Health, bringing the total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the state to nine. No information was immediately available about the person who died.

Posted: 1:08 p.m

Leahy: Vermont to get nearly $2 billion in virus relief package

The Vermont senator says the legislation, which is expected to pass the House on Friday, includes $1.25 billion to support state and counties that are addressing the economic devastation  caused by the virus. Among other appropriations for Vermont, the bill will provide $20 million to support public transportation, $5.4 million to support public health preparedness and $4.7 million in community development block grants.

Wednesday, March 25

Posted: 11:17 p.m.

One load at a time, Vermont soap maker helps local nonprofits through outbreak

Twincraft Skincare ships products from their manufacturing facilities in Winooski and Essex to over 140 personal care brands including Unilever, Loreal and Lululemon. Since the virus outbreak, the company has focused its efforts on getting soap into the hands of Vermont non-profits.

“If you need bar soap, if you need liquid soap, we’ll deliver it,” said Michele Asch, the company’s spokesperson. “We’ve been delivering to shelters, food shelves, organizations that have created extra beds in case the hospitals get overcrowded. Our emphasis right now is getting soap donations to Vermont organizations that are helping Vermonters.”

Posted: 6:56 p.m.

Weinberger urges Burlington residents to adhere to statewide ‘stay at home’ order

Mayor Miro Weinberger and other city leaders are keeping a close eye on a cluster of coronavirus cases at Burlington Health and Rehab, where six people have died after testing positive for COVID-19.

“I think we need to be preparing for a marathon,” Weinberger said Wednesday in a video update on the how the city is responding to the outbreak.

Weimnberger said the statewide stay-at-home order issued By Gov. Phil Scott, which took effect at 5 p.m. Wednesday, is critical to slowing the spread of the virus. “I don’t think we can get through this crisis without an order like this so I welcome that he’s taken it,” the mayor said.

Posted: 6:54 p.m.

Vermont State Police say they expect residents will stay at home

The Vermont Department of Public Safety and Vermont State Police has issued guidance to local police departments on how to enforce of Gov. Phil Scott’s stay-at-home order on Wednesday.

Enforcement of the order will be handled primarily through education and voluntary compliance. If officers observe or are made aware of people violating the order, they’ve been encouraged to remind the offender of the order’s requirements and to assess their willingness to voluntarily comply.

Posted: 6:48 p.m.

Hospital officials eye Northern Vermont University in event of coronavirus surge

Right now, Caledonia County has just one confirmed case of COVID-19, but health officials are considering locations where they can treat overflow patients or house patients separately to lower the risk of transmission.

One potential location is Northern Vermont University, which has campuses in Lyndon and Johnson.

“We’re looking at buildings on our campus,” said Laurel Ruggles, spokesperson for NVRH. . “We actually own quite a few of the buildings here, we have some of our offices, that are housed here on campus. We’re also looking at other spaces in our hospital, where we can relocate some of our in patient beds.”

Posted: 6:47 p.m.

Shortage of coronavirus tests, visitors to the Adirondacks worry Essex County officials

Linda Beers, director of Public Health for Essex County, said the number of confirmed cases is probably not accurate and likely the result of a shortage of tests. And she’s worried it’s giving residents a false impression of the outbreak.

“The low numbers here and anywhere in the North Country are misrepresentative, to let people have a sense that there is no COVID-19 here,” she said.

Essex County is rationing tests to focus on people admitted to the hospital, front-line healthcare workers and first responders.

Tuesday, March 24

Posted: 7:34 p.m.

Vermont Senate passes coronavirus relief measures

Legislation passed Tuesday would make sure anyone who loses their job or has to leave one to care for someone who is ill will be eligible for unemployment benefits; ensures state and local elections can go forward later in the year; and temporarily modifies the state’s open meeting laws so local government can function remotely.

It moves to the House on Wednesday.

Posted 7:03 p.m.

Vermont ACLU calls on officials to prevent spread of COVID-19 in state prisons

Advocacy Director Falko Shilling said the case underscores the need for officials to reduce the prison populaiton, something the ACLU has long been calling for.

“People are packed together in tight quarters and we know that that is how this virus spreads,” said Schilling. “We don’t want to see our prison became vectors where people who work in these facilities are taking this virus outside into their larger communities and spreading.

Posted: 5:45 p.m.

10 Burlington Health & Rehab patients will move to local hotel after five died from virus

Hours after reporting that a fifth resident of Burlington Health and Rehab died after testing positive for COVID-19, Vermont health officials say ten short-term patients of the long-term care facility will be moved to a Burlington hotel.

The patients, all of whom do not exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, will be relocated to specially equipped rooms at the DoubleTree by Hilton on Williston Road, where they will be treated by providers from UVM Medical Center. They will be discharged to their homes when they are well enough, the health department says.

Posted: 5:38 p.m.

Scott issues stay-at-home order, directs businesses to cease in-person operations

“I want to be very clear about this,” Gov. Phil Scott said. “We need everyone to limit activities outside of the home and to practice social distancing at all times to slow the spread of this highly contagious and potentially deadly virus. The more Vermonters who take this seriously and stay home, the faster we can return to normal.”

Scott’s order means Vermont will join at least 16 other states who have directed residents to remain in their homes except in certain circumstances, such as in emergencies and to purchase food and medicine. The moves are aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, particularly among older people and people with chronic health conditions that make them vulnerable to infection.

Posted: 3:35 p.m.

Vermont health officials report two more deaths as coronavirus continues to spread

Vermont health officials say two more people who tested positive for the novel coronavirus have died, including another patient at Burlington Health & Rehab.

A total of 7 people have died in Vermont; five of the victims were patients or residents at Burlington Health & Rehab, a long-term care facility on Pearl Street.

The number of people who have tested positive for the virus jumped to 95, the department reports, an increase of 20 since Monday. More than 1,530 people have so far been tested. Health Comissioner Mark Levine says commercial labs are now conducting coronavirus tests and that Vermonters should prepare for a rise in positive results.

Vermont businesses and not-for-profits have been ordered by Gov. Phil Scott to allow employees to work from home. Over the weekend, the governor issued a directive that shuttered close-contact business, such as gyms, hair and nail salons and tattoo parlors.

On Monday, the governor said Vermonters can expect additional measures, including an order for all residents to remain in their homes except for emergencies and to purchase food and medicine.

Posted: 12:31 p.m.

Two dozen Vermont National Guard members activated to set up temporary hospitals

The three temporary sites, or “medical surge facilities,” will be set up over the next three days. They will be used for patients who can be safely moved from a hospital, nursing home or other care facility to increase capacity for COVID-19 patients who need hospitalization.

The locations were selected because they are in areas with higher rates of COVID-19 cases that require hospital care:

  • Gutterson Fieldhouse on the UVM campus in Burlington;
  • Barre Municipal Auditorium in Barre;
  • Collins Perley Sports and Fitness Center oin Sty.Albans.

More sites will be added as needed.

Posted: 10:58 a.m.

Virus cases top 20,000 in New York as new restrictions start

(AP) Gov. Andrew Cuomo promised 1,000 temporary hospital beds will be swiftly placed inside a vast Manhattan convention center as officials raced to prepare for an overwhelming number of coronavirus patients.

New Yorkers on Monday experienced their first full day of severe restrictions intended to curb the spread of the virus. All of the state’s “nonessential” businesses were closed under an order that also banned nonessential gatherings of individuals.

By Wednesday, residents of 16 states will be under orders to stay at home. On Friday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered workers in nonessential businesses to stay home and said businesses that do not comply could be fined.

Posted: 9:15 a.m.

Scott: Stay-at-home order to Vermonters could come in next few days

At a news briefing Monday, Scott said Vermonters should prepare for more measures to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, including an order that residents remain in their homes with few exceptions.

“It’s not a question of if, its going to be a question of when,” Scott said, “and I will expect it will be in the next couple of days.”

Monday, March 23

Posted: 11:55 p.m.

Burlington City Council passes coronavirus response plan

During a remote meeting in which city business was conducted via conference call, the Burlington City Council passed a series of measures aimed at addressing the economic concerns of the coronavirus pandemic.

The city’s COVID-19 response plan has five key elements, which were summarized in a memorandum to city council by Mayor Miro Weinberger:

  • Provide meaningful relief to Burlington residents and businesses by delaying or waiving certain fees and tax deadlines.
  • Take steps to protect the City’s financial health given expected reduction and delays in City revenues.
  • Establish the Burlington COVID-19 Resource and Recovery Center.
  • Appropriate $1 million of Burlington Telecom revenues toward the costs of addressing this crisis.
  • Approve the Emergency Work and Paid Leave Policy (for city employees).

Posted: 8:33 p.m.

Corrections worker in Newport tests positive for COVID-19

The Department of Corrections says the worker, who last worked March 17, did not have contact with inmates at the prison and that no inmates have tested positive for the disease.

Prison staff has cleaned the area where the staffer worked and increased messaging to staff and inmates about hand washing and hygiene. They are also gathering a list of people who had contact with the worker.

Posted: 4:12 p.m.

Burlington mayor wants $1 million for COVID-19 response

Saying more than 1,000 Burlington residents lost their jobs or income last week, Mayor Miro Weinberger will ask City Council to approve a resolution outlining several economic measures in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including $1 million from the sale of Burlington Telecom to help cover the cost.

Weinberger “dozens if not hundreds” of Burlington businesses face an uncertain future. The outbreak has killed five people in Vermont — four of whom are residents of Burlington Health & Rehab on Pearl Street.

“There are huge questions about how Burlingtonians will pay for food, rent, mortgage payments, and make good on personal guarantees on small business loans,” Weinberger said in the memo. “After enjoying years of strong and stable economic growth, with very little warning, our community finds itself in scary and uncertain economic times.”

Posted: 2:32 p.m.

Vermont grocers’ group: Shop for 2 weeks, not 2 months

At Monday’s news briefing on the state’s response to the pandemic, Erin Sigrist, president of the Vermont Retailers & Grocers Association, said consumers who are hoarding food, paper products and other supplies “hurt the ability of our neighbors to remain safe and healthy as well.

Related Video: Vermont grocers’ association urges customers to remain calm

“It is imperative that we revert to how we used to shop,” she said. “We ask that you don’t hoard. We ask that you shop for two weeks, which is recommended by the [Centers for Disease Control].”

Posted: 12:36 p.m.

Three more have died at Burlington nursing home; 14 residents, one staffer have tested postive for virus

The number of people in Vermont with the virus who have died rose to five — four of whom were patients or residents of Burlington Health & Rehab, a long-term care facility on Pearl Street. As of Monday afternoon, 14 residents and one staff member at the facility have tested positive for the virus, said Health Commissioner Mark Levine.

“Unfortunately, this new coronavirus can be very serious, especially for vulnerable Vermonters, and we have seen long-term care facilities across the country struggle to contain the virus,” Levine said.

Related Video: Levine says more testing means more positive results

Posted: 10:06 a.m.

UVM wants undergrads to leave residence halls, off-campus housing by March 30

In a message to the university community Monday, Suresh V. Garimella said on-campus residents, other than those approved for emergency housing, will not be able to enter their rooms or retrieve their possessions after March 30. Students who vacate their rooms by then will receive a $1,000 housing credit.

“I wish there were other options,” Garimella said, “but my first priority is student safety and the safety of our communities. We understand that some students may not have viable alternatives; we will work with those who have challenging circumstances to provide emergency options for housing.”

Sunday, March 22

Posted: 9:49 p.m.

Clinton County reports 4th COVID-19 case; National Guard activated in New York

The Clinton County Health Department say said it learned of the county’s fourth postive test result Sunday. The man is in his fifties and had direct contact with one of the county’s three previously-diagnosed patients. He’s in self-isolation at home.

Meanwhile, President Trump said he’ll use federal money to fund the New York National Guard, which was activated Sunday. Gov. Andrew Cuomo will maintain command of the Guard as it helps fight the spread of the virus, but FEMA will cover all of its costs.

Posted: 9:37p.m.

Three new COVID-19 cases reported Sunday push Vermont’s total to 52

The Vermont Department of Health said Sunday that three more people in the state have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total for the Green Mountain State to 52.

The department says the novel coronavirus is spreading within community, rather than through travel or known contact with an infected individual.

Over the weekend, the governor ordered all businesses that require close physical contact — such as gyms, spas, barber shops and salons and tattoo parlors — to shut down by 8:00 p.m. Monday. The new restrictions do not apply to grocery stores, workplaces, airports or bus and railway stations, press conferences or court and legislative sessions.

He also reduced the number of people who can gather in one place at one time from 50 to 10. Click here to read the new order.

Posted: 11:10 a.m.

New York DMVs to close offices statewide, per Cuomo order

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo issued an executive order to closing in-office visits to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Online transactions for tasks like renewing licenses remain available.

Expiration dates for license, permits, and registrations on or after March 1 will also be extended.

Saturday, March 21

Posted: 8:50 p.m.

More COVID-19 cases at Burlington senior facility; total positive tests in Vermont now at 49

Seven of the 20 new cases are patients or residents at Burlington Health & Rehab, where a woman who tested positive for the virus died Thursday. Two Vermonters have died so far from the outbreak.

The state’s latest report says 978 Vermonters have been tested so far, and 288 people who may have been exposed via travel or close contact with a confirmed case are being monitored.

Posted: 7:17 p.m.

Citing shortages, Glens Falls cancels drive-thru COVID-19 testing

The hospital said it will continue to test those who show COVID-19 symptoms, and healthcare workers and first responders who show symptoms or have been exposed to others who tested positive.

The hospital says the policy change will “no impact on how patients who are admitted with symptoms are treated.” In a statement, hospital officials said:

This was a difficult decision. With test kits and Personal Protective Equipment limited, we have to make it a priority to test inpatients, and those on the front lines working hard to protect us all and treat the sickest among us.

Posted: 6:47 p.m.

North Country coronavirus cases climb to 3 after Clinton County woman test positive

A woman in her 30’s is quarantined at home to limit further spread of the virus. Officials say she contracted the virus after coming in direct contact with second person who tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this week.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s orders has ordered residents to stay home starting at 8 p.m. Sunday, shutting down all non-essential businesses in the Empire State.

Posted: 6:25 p.m.

Barre Hannaford closes for cleaning after possible coronavirus infection

According to Erika Dodge, a company spokesperson:

“In an abundance of caution, we have temporarily closed the Barre Hannaford for a deep and thorough cleaning because we have learned that an associate may have tested positive for COVID-19, or coronavirus. This deep cleaning is in addition to our ongoing, rigorous sanitary practices. For privacy reasons, we cannot provide information about the associate. We plan to reopen at our normal time tomorrow morning and apologize for any inconvenience.”

Posted: 9:30 a.m.

Scott orders more businesses to close, further restricts mass gatherings

Gyms and fitness centers. Salons, spas and tattoo parlors. All of these Vermont businesses must be closed by 8 p.m. Monday under a new directive by Gov. Phil Scott aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19, which has claimed two lives in Vermont.

The new order also further reduces the size of “non-essential” mass gatherings from 50 at a time in one palce to no more than 10 people. The new restriction does not include grocery stores, workplaces, airports or bus and railway stations, press conferences or court and lesgilative sessions. Click here to read the new order.

“There is no doubt these are difficult times, and my administration – with the help of the legislature and Vermont’s Congressional delegation – will do all we can to help those impacted by this virus or these measures,” Scott said.

In the last week, since declaring a state of emergency, Scott has ordered K-12 schools to close and canceled school-related activities until at least April 6; shuttered bars and restaurants to walk-in business and table dining; closed child-care centers to normal operations; and restricted access to long-term care facilities and nursing homes.

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.

Friday, March 20

Posted: 8:53 p.m.

Clinton County reports third coronavirus case; woman isolated at home

The Clinton County Health Department said the woman, who is in her 30s, had direct contact with the county’s second confirmed case, which was reported March 18.

“We anticipate that the number of cases in our region will continue to rise,” stated John Kanoza, Director of Public Health for Clinton County. 

Posted: 4:57 p.m.

Latest Vermont COVID-19 cases include four from Burlington senior care facility

Four elderly residents of a Burlington nursing home — one of whom died Thursday — are among seven newly reported cases of COVID-19 in Vermont.

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.

Related Video: Vermont health commissioner provides update on COVID-19

Posted: 4:01 p.m.

Poll: Americans more concerned with finances than health amid coronavirus pandemic

When asked about their personal finances, 42% of respondents said they were “very concerned” and another 36% said they were “somewhat concerned.” The issue of finances slightly outweighed personal medical concerns, with 26% of respondents “very concerned” about their personal health and 41% “somewhat concerned.”

When asked if they were worried they or an immediate family member may catch the coronavirus, 70% were very worried or somewhat worried. Only 22% reported being not too worried and 7% are not worried at all.

Scott announces new economic relief measures for Vermonters

Gov. Phil Scott announced new economic measures aimed at helping businesses and employees who are hurt by the coronavirus outbreak.

Also at Friday’s briefing, Health Commissioner Mark Levine said 28 people have now tested positive for COVID-19 in Vermont. Of the seven new cases reported yesterday, four were at Burlington Health & Rehab, the long-term care facility where a woman who tested positive earlier this week died Thursday.

Human Services Secretary Mark Smith said the state has 500 hospital beds and 153 respirators available to treat patients. Another 87 respirators are on their way, Smith said.

Posted: 1:05 p.m.

New York joins California in locking down against the virus

“We’re going to close the valve, because the rate of increase in the number of cases portends a total overwhelming of our hospital system,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said as cases in the state climbed to more than 7,000.

The increasingly drastic measures in the U.S. came as gasping patients filled the wards of hospitals in Spain and Italy, and the global death toll surpassed 10,000, with the virus still multiplying and gaining footholds in new corners of the world.

Posted: 10:35 a.m.

Cuomo emerges as Democratic counter to Trump virus response

Through daily briefings and scores of media appearances, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has emerged as one of the key faces responding to the pandemic. He is one of several governors thrust into the spotlight as cases surge, forcing a reordering of American life without schools, sporting events or large crowds.

Thursday, March 19

Posted: 8:17 p.m.

Plattsburgh mayor on COVID-19: ‘We are prepared for the long haul’

Mayor Colin Read ordered all non-essential employees to work from home if possible. City departments will be operating on an appointment-only basis. Public meetings will be available online and streamed on YouTube.

“A few days ago I said it was doubling every couple of days,” stated Read. “It seems to be doubling about every day now.”

Posted: 7:10 p.m.

Scott says two people in Vermont who tested positive for COVID-19 have died

Gov. Phil Scott announced the deaths Thursday at a press conference with Vermont Health Commissioner Mark Levine.

The Health Department said both people were in their 80s, and the state Medical Examiner will determine the causes of death. But Scott said the fact they both tested positve for the virus is “very concerning” and prompted him to hurriedly assemble the briefing.

One of the people who died was a woman in her 80s and a resident of the 126-bed Burlington Health & Rehabilitation Center. On Tuesday, the long-term care facility reported a positive test. On Wednesday, worried relatives of the center’s residents said they had concerns its ability to contain the spread of the virus.

Watch Thursday’s announcement

Posted: 6:21 p.m.

With classes canceled, Vermont schools rally to feed students

School buses were lined up at Colchester High School on Thursday, but the students were nowhere to be found. Instead, the school district is using the buses to deliver meals to students and their families.

With the coronavirus outbreak closing schools across the state, local districts have sprung into action to make sure children who rely on school-based meal programs do not go hungry.

Posted: 5 p.m.

Three more in Vermont test positive for COVID-19, health department reports

A Bennington County woman in her 80’s was one of the three new cases of COVID-19 reported by the Vermont Department of Health on Thursday. The other cases are a woman in her 60s in Orange County and a Vermont resident in another state.

None of the people who tested positive are being treated in a hospital, the department said.

The department said it had completed 57 more tests since Wednesday, and the number of people being monitored for symtoms increased by about three dozen.

Posted: 3:02 p.m.

New York State Police say 2 employees have tested positive for COVID-19

The New York State Police said one employee is stationed out of Division Headquarters in Albany and the other is from Long Island. As of Thursday, a total of 19 State Police employees are under quarantine, 12 are sworn officers and seven are civilian employees. (WTEN)

Posted: 12:17 p.m.

North Country COVID-19 cases at 3 after new Clinton County positive test reported

The Clinton County Health Department said it learned of the new case Wednesday evening. Department staff immediately began reaching out to anyone who may have had close contact with the infected person, who is isolated at home. Click here for the full story.

Related: Officials in Plattsburgh respond to Clinton County’s first case of coronavirus
Related: New York officials concerned about resources; Essex County reports first COVID-19 case

Wednesday, March 18

Posted: 11:24 p.m.

Inside UVM Medical Center’s drive-thru coronavirus test site

As confirmed cases of COVID-19 rise in Vermont, UVM Medical Center’s drive-thru testing site at the Champlain Valley Exposition is adapting to increasing demand.

On Wednesday, roughly 70 people were tested, more than three times the number of people who visited the location when it opened on Monday. Click here for the full story

Related Video: Vermont health commissioner on state’s strategy for coronavirus testing

Posted: 11:21 p.m.

UVM Medical Center tightens visitation policy amid coronavirus pandemic

The hospital is temporarily suspending patients visitation, closing some building entrances and screening everyone who enters the health network’s facilities and clinics to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The new measures took effect Wednesday evening. Click here for the full story

Posted: 8:39 p.m.

Addison County reports first COVID-19 case in Middlebury

Addison County’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 is a Middlebury resident who tested positive for the virus at Porter Medical Center’s drive-thru testing site. The hospital says the patient is quarantined at home. Click here for the full story

Posted: 7:18 p.m.

Family of Burlington nursing home resident with COVID-19 worried about spread of disease

Officials at the 126-bed Burlington Health & Rehabilitation Center say they are taking steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 after a resident tested positive for the disease on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, relatives say they are 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.

Posted: 7:10 p.m.

North Country officials concerned about resources; Essex County reports first COVID-19 case

Officials in Essex County, New York, have confirmed the county’s first case of the novel coronavirus.

According to the Essex County Health Department, the person was tested at Adirondack Medical Health Center on Friday. The person is now quarantined at their home.

Related: Officials in Plattsburgh respond to Clinton County’s first case of coronavirus
Related: North Country COVID-19 cases at 3 after new Clinton County positive test reported

Posted: 6:13 p.m.

Vermont officials offer details on “essential” child care, school meal programs

Gov. Phil Scott’s orders shutting down Vermont schools and licensed child care facilities to help contain the spread of coronavirus took effect Wednesday.

At a press conference, Scott detailed guidelines to encourage child care for essential personnel, such as health care providers, first responders, National Guard members who have been activated, and state employees working on the state’s reponse. The governor said the list of essential personnel will be updated.

Related Video: Scott on COVID-19 outbreak: “We need everyone to accept this reality”

Posted: 1:21 p.m.

Cuomo: Capacity of New York health care system will be tested by coronavirus

As New York State works to ‘flatten the curve’ and protect its hospital system, one of the major concerns is the number of available beds and ventilators.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said there are 53,000 hospital beds in the state and 3,000 ICU beds. He said experts predict that, once the outbtreak peaks, 55,000 to 110,000 hospital beds will be needed and 18,000 to 37,000 ICU beds.

Posted: 11:26 a.m

Levine: 19 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Vermont

At Wednesday’s press conference, Health Commissioner Mark Levine updated reporters on the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Vermont. He said more than 600 people had been tested, and hundreds of others have been or are currently being monitored for symptoms.

Here’s the breakdown as of March 18:

Related Video: Levine on state’s strategy for coronavirus testing

Tuesday, March 17

Posted: 9:07 p.m.

Burlington Catholic diocese suspends public mass, plans to live-stream services

The Burlington Roman Catholic Diocese is planning to live stream Mass beginning this Sunday, after Bishop Christopher Coyne suspended all public celebrations, including sacraments and devotions.

“I have taken this course of action following the advice of local public officials and the Centers for Disease Control guidelines to limit gatherings to 10 people,” Coyne said.

Posted: 7:49 p.m.

Vermont restaurants grapple with an uncertain future amid outbreak

A directive by Gov. Phil Scott in response to the coronavirus outbreak has shut the dining rooms of every restaurant in Vermont. While they can fill take-out and delivery orders, Scott’s order has created a lot of worry.

“What do I do? How do I make this work?” wondered Earl Handy, owner of Handy’s Lunch in Burlington.

Posted: 4:59 p.m.

Vermont has 5 new cases of COVID-19; number of negative tests nears 500

Five new cases of COVID-19 have been reported by the Vermont Department of Health, bringing the number of Vermonters and out-of-state visitors who have tested positive for the disease to 17, according to the figures released by the state.

Posted: 2:46 p.m.

New York halts debt collection in response to coronavirus

New Yorkers with student, medical, and other state debt will see payments frozen for at least 30 days as the attorney general and governor temporarily suspend state debt collection.

Over 165,000 cases qualify:

  • Patients with medical debt due to the five state hospitals and the five state veterans’ home
  • Individuals and select business and property owners who owe for oil spill cleanup and removal or breach of contract
  • Students owing SUNY campuses

Click here for the full story.

Posted: 11:31 a.m.

Vermont’s first COVID-19 patient is improving, hospital says

The first Vermont patient with a confirmed case of COVID-19 has improved to stable.

The patient is being treated at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington, which treating three cases of COVID-19. The hospital — as well as the UVM Medical Center – is offering drive-up testing for the disease caused by the coronavirus. Duchene says the hospital has been conducting about 20 tests a day.

Monday, March 16

Posted: 8:19 p.m.

Clinton County reports first COVID-19 case; nationwide shortage limits testing

County health officials said the person is in intensive care at UVM Health Network – CVPH in Plattsburgh. Meanwhile, Health Department staff are working to identify anyone who may have had contact with the individual prior to testing.

In a message announcing the case, Michelle LeBeau, hospital president and chief operating officer, said the “national shortage” of testing kits and supplies means that only hospitalized patients or patients pending admission will be tested for the virus.

Posted: 4:29 p.m.

Burlington mayor declares state of emergency; Burlington bars, restaurants to close Tuesday

Mayor Miro Weinberger said all bars and restaurants in the city will close starting at 6 a.m. Tuesday for at least 24 hours.

Weinberger said the city is suspending disconnections of municipal utility services until further notice, and will work to put together a relief package for workers and others impacted by the state and city’s response to the virus. Access to city buildings and many city services will be curtailed or suspended starting Wednesday.

“The City is taking further action because we are dealing with a global pandemic unlike any other that we have seen in modern times,” he said. “Around the world and the United States, we are seeing this virus spread at an almost exponential rate.”

Posted: 12:20 p.m.

Vermont reports 4 more virus cases, bringing total to 12 as schools prepare to close

At a news conference in Montpelier with Gov. Phil Scott, Levine said the coronavirus is now being spread within the state by person-to-person contact rather than just through known sources of transmission, such as foreign travel or contact with a sick individual.

The four newly confirmed cases include a woman in her 60s from Bennington who is being treated at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center. Two of the cases – a man and a woman, both in their 30s – are in Chittenden County. The fourth involves a man in his 60s in Orange County. Those three people are self-isolated at home, the department said.

Sunday, March 15

Posted: 6:52 p.m.

Scott orders K-12 school closures; number of Vermonters with COVID-19 rises to four

Hours after three new cases of the coronavirus were announced in Vermont, Gov. Phil Scott ordered schools to close no later than Wednesday and to put in place “continuity of education” plans in preparation for an extended cancellation of classes.

Meanwhile, late Sunday, the Champlain Valley School District said the Shelburne Community School would close immediately after a community member with connections to the school tested positive for COVID-19.

Posted: 2:57 a.m.

3 new presumptive positive cases of coronavirus in Vermont

The new cases involve a Windsor County man in his 80s who’s being hospitalized in White River Junction, a Washington County man in his 50s undergoing home isolation, and a man in his 50s from Westchester County, NY who was evaluated in Springfield.

Officials say they’re working to determine the patients’ travel history and other Vermonters they have been in close contact with.

Friday, March 13

Posted: 11:42 a.m.

Burlington School District considering “preemptive closure” to combat COVID-19 spread

In the latest update to the school community, Superinendent Yaw Obeng said that while no students, teachers or staff are known to have come in contact with the virus, the district has discussed so-called “preemptive closure” to decrease the spread of infection.

“I have not said much about closing previously as I did not want to raise alarm,”Obeng said. “However, I want to assure you that our District has been planning for the last week and a half for the possibility of closure.”

Thursday, March 12

Posted: 1:51 p.m.

UVM Medical Center official: Assume you will be exposed to coronavirus

Stephen Leffler, UVM Medical Center president and chief operating officer, said the hospital has been preparing for a coronavirus outbreak for several weeks. He said that while there have only been two cases in the state, and 80 percent of people infected will have only mild symptoms, everyone should assume they will come in contact with the virus

More Video: Full briefing from UVM Medical Center on COVID-19

Wednesday, March 11

Posted: 7:57 p.m.

Second presumed case of coronavirus in Chittenden County, man hospitalized

The Chittenden County adult is being treated at the University of Vermont Medical Center. This case comes less than a week after the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Bennington County.

Health officials say the patient is a man in his 70s and was hospitalized this week. They’re working to investigate the man’s possible exposure history and identify anyone who may have been in close contact with him. Officials say they will assess those people and determine if self-isolation is necessary.

Tuesday, March 10

Posted: 12:44 p.m.

What Vermonters should know about testing for COVID-19

Testing by public agencies like the Vermont Department of Health has been limited to people who meet certain criteria:

  • Hospitalized individuals with symptoms consistent with COVID-19;
  • Symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and a travel history to an affected area;
  • Symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and had close contact with another person who tested positive;
  • When a health care provider believes someone’s symptoms could be due to COVID-19.

Posted: 10:09 a.m.

Scott activates emergency operations center to coordinate Vermont’s virus response

A multi-disciplinary team with representatives from various state departments will begin operations Wednesday, working closely with the Department of Health “to ensure preparedness for the potential of widespread transmission of COVID-19.”

Posted: 11:15 a.m.

Potential virus exposure closes Williston schools for second day

Eileen McCoy has a daughter at Allen Brook School. She said she was surprised when she heard there wouldn’t be any school Monday.

“But I understand I’d rather keep everyone healthy today really thinking about a school there is a place that there are some medically fragile children,” said McCoy. 

Monday, March 9

Posted: 6:38 a.m.

Williston schools closed Monday over possible COVID-19 exposure

In a letter to parents of children at Central School and Allen Brook School, the Champlain Valley School District said a staff member traveled over February break and “multiple positive COVID-19 cases were confirmed with guests who stayed at the same hotel.”

Saturday, March 7

Posted: 11:19 p.m.

Vermont has its first probable case of the new coronavirus

The patient is apparently an adult who is quarantined in a hospital. State officials say they’re looking into the patient’s history of travel and possible exposure, retracing the patient’s steps to compile a list of people with whom the patient has been in contact.

Health investigators will offer health recommendations to the people on that list and screen them for risk of exposure to the virus.

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