Two elderly Vermonters who tested positive for COVID-19 have died.
Governor Phil Scott and Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine made the announcement at the Vermont Department of Health Thursday evening.
Both individuals were over the age of 80. One had been hospitalized at the VA Medical Center in White River Junction, while the other lived at the Burlington Health and Rehab long-term care facility.
“We know they were elderly Vermonters, which is an important reminder that the virus is most dangerous to seniors,” Gov. Scott said. “It is also a reminder that even though the vast majority of us will have mild, moderate or no symptoms at all, we can still spread the virus, which puts the vulnerable at extreme risk.”
Dr. Levine said everyone at the Department of Health is feeling the losses deeply, and offered condolances to both individuals’ friends and family.
Given the nationwide COVID-19 test shortage, Dr. Levine said the two cases illustrate the importance of Vermont’s strategy thus far.
“We are prioritizing our testing to healthcare workers who are symptomatic, people who are hospitalized, residents of long-term care facilities, people who are immunocompromised, and other high-risk groups,” Dr. Levine said.
Over 200 people have died nationwide due to the coronavirus, and Governor Scott acknowledged that these deaths might bring anxiety closer to home.
“I know some are feeling very scared, worried, and overwhelmed,” Gov. Scott said. “But I want you to know we will get through this, because we’re all in this together.”
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger offered condolances as well and urged vigilance.
“I am deeply saddened to learn that we lost the first two Vermonters, including one Burlingtonian, to the COVID-19 virus today, and I send my sympathies to their families,” Weinberger said. “These first deaths are a reminder to us all that this deadly virus is very much here and being transmitted in Vermont. Each of us can flatten the curve and save lives by acting as if we, ourselves, have the virus, and exercising vigilance and personal responsibility to ensure that it does not spread.”
Scott said another news conference will be held Friday to provide more information about the cases and the state’s response.