Vermont tops 3,000 virus cases; Gov. blames breakdown in health protocols

Vermont News

MONTPELIER, Vt. (WFFF) — As Vermont topped 3,100 COVID-19 cases Tuesday, Governor Phil Scott again emphasized the need for preventive measures to curb the spread of the virus

On Monday, the state reported a record 120 new cases. As Scott took the podium for his briefing Tuesday, the Department of Health announced another 95 cases, driven largely by three counties—Washington (32), Chittenden (17), and Orange (16) counties.

The state’s COVID-19 dashboard shows 3,104 cases, with 59 deaths, since the pandemic began in March.

Scott said the recent surge in cases is driven by social gatherings where attendees did not wear masks or practice social distancing. Since October 1, 71% of new cases were linked to social events, he said, adding that schools, restaurants, and other businesses appear to be following the necessary safety protocols.

“We are seeing record growth,” Scott said. “And this growth is not because of tourists. Not because of restaurants. Not because of schools. It’s because people continue to get together with other adults. Multiple households, inside and outside, in situations usually involving alcohol, where they stop taking precautions.

Michael Pieciak, commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulation, said Vermont went from 2,000 cases to 3,000 cases in just 23 days. By comparison, it took almost three months to reach the first 1,000 cases and nearly five months to reach 2,000 cases.

“Again, you’ll see that cases are projected to continue to rise,” Pieciak said. On average, even getting as high as averaging 100 a day.”

Monica Ogleby leads a contact tracing team for the Department of Health. She said the outbreaks in Washington, Chittenden, and Orange counties are “all related to social gatherings.”  

“Over the course of the last few weeks we have seen people’s contact lists grow easily in the double digits,” she said. “It’s unusual for someone to have less than 10 contacts.”

In a Facebook post, Ogleby urged Vermonters to avoid being within six feet of someone for more than 15 minutes. “I just felt compelled to share with my small community really what a close contact means and how you can avoid being named as a close contact,” she said.

Scott, who criticized COVID-19 skeptics for denying the science behind the state’s response, said Vermonters need to think about the effect of their behavior on the health and safety of others.

“What I can’t take is seeing this continue to grow because it’s putting our healthcare system and economy and many lives at risk,” he said. “I’m asking you to please do your part to help.”

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