Vermont health officials monitoring 9 people for coronavirus

Local News

The Vermont Health Department says it has 9 people on its radar for possible exposure to the coronavairus.

No one in Vermont has been sickened by the virus, which goes by the name COVID-19, and state health officials say the risk for Vermonters is low right now. More than 1,300 people have died, most on mainland China, and more 50,000 have been infected worldwide.

Vermont health officials say they will be monitoring the 9 people, all of whom have returned from China in the past 14 days. They displayed no symptoms of respiratory illness when screened upon returning to the United States.

In a press release, Health Commissioner Mark Levine said the department is in contact with federal health officials regarding travelers who may be returning to Vermont.

“Once a person has been screened and cleared to continue their travel, if Vermont is their final destination, the Health Department is notified,” Levine said.

“Our epidemiology team then immediately reaches out to that person to assess their risk of exposure and determine what level of monitoring is indicated, and the extent to which the person may have to restrict their movements during the 14-day monitoring period.”

There are 15 confirmed cases in the U.S, but so far no deaths. The most recent case was confirmed on Thursday in Texas. Here’s where else cases have been confirmed according to CNN:

  • California: 8 cases
  • Illinois: 2 cases
  • Massachusetts: 1 case
  • Washington state: 1 case
  • Arizona: 1 case
  • Wisconsin: 1 case
  • Texas: 1

Levine said he’s confident Vermont will remain low-risk.

“This is really the fundamentals of public health, this is what public health is good at,” Levine said. “We’re aware of everyone, aware if they develop symptoms. We’ve educated them appropriately about settings they should avoid and not be in, so there’s very very minimal risk to anyone in our population.”

Stowe High School has cancelled an upcoming trip to China. St. Michael’s College had to re-arrange travel plans last month for a spring break trip to Taiwan.

Prof. Robert Letovsky explained the decision.

“The worst thing you can say to someone who’s worried is ‘don’t worry,” Letovsky said. “Here you are about to send their kid to a place that’s fairly close to the epicenter of this that has had documented cases and you’re saying ‘don’t worry, it’ll be okay.’ I don’t know, that’s a tough sell.”

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