Vermont reports 72 new virus cases; officials prepare to ramp up field hospitals to handle surge

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Vermont health officials reported 72 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, double the previous day’s report and the most since the start of the pandemic.

State officials say clusters and outbreaks are growing across the state, with many linked to Vermonters traveling out of state and attending social gatherings where masks aren’t worn and physical distancing isn’t practiced.

According to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard, 14 people are currently hospitalized for treatment, with six receiving care in the ICU. The total number of positive cases rose to 2,535. Nearly 60 people have died.

“I understand that Vermonters feel fatigued from the pandemic, its impact on all of us and the sacrifices it has required,” said Governor Phil Scott. “As I have said throughout this pandemic, we all have to do our part to keep each other safe and we must continue to follow the public health practices of wearing a mask, staying six feet apart, avoiding crowded places, and quarantining when you are sick.”

On Tuesday, Scott temporarily suspended Vermont’s travel map due and advised anyone visiting the state or residents who return from out of state to quarantine for 14 days or seven days with a PCR test.

On Wednesday, Scott said he has directed the State Emergency Operations Center to prepare the state’s existing surge plans, including re-deploying field hospital sites as a precautionary measure. 

A surge facility at the Champlain Valley Exposition in Essex Junction has a 400-bed capacity, but has remained staged with just 50 beds. Another 100 additional beds will be deployed in the coming days, officials said, with 250 more beds in reserve. A 50-bed field hospital trailer near Rutland is ready to add another 50 beds.

State health officials urge testing for COVID-19 for residents that recently attended events or gathering with people from outside their small social circle. Testing is also advised for people who have traveled out of state, have had a visitor from out of state or have had close contact with anyone who has tested positive.

“Vermonters must understand that by engaging in riskier activities, like attending parties and gatherings – even small ones – there will continue to be a surge in cases and we will see community spread like the rest of the country,” the health department said in a statement. 

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