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The home for VPR's coverage of health and health industry issues affecting the state of Vermont.

Vermont Coronavirus Updates For Thursday, March 12

A person in a suit at a podium.
Liam Elder-Connors
UVM Medical Center COO Stephen Leffer speaks at a press conference outside the hosptial on Thursday. The state announced its second case of COVID-19 on Wednesday. The patient is currently hospitalized at UVM Medical Center in Burlington.

VPR reporters provide a quick round-up of local coronavirus news for Thursday, March 12.


Second COVID-19 patient in "critical" condition

Officials at the University of Vermont Medical Center told reporters Thursday the second patient in the state diagnosed with COVID-19 is in critical condition.

The state health department announced Wednesday evening that a Chittenden County man in his 70s had test positive for the disease.

UVM Medical Center officials released few details about the patient, citing privacy rules, but COO Stephen Leffler said the man was admitted through the emergency department on Tuesday and is currently isolated in the intensive care unit.

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The state health department is investigating the man's contact history to determine his exposure and who might have come in contact with him.

While state and health officials expect there are more waiting cases of coronavirus to be discovered in Vermont, Leffler said most cases of the disease are mild and don’t require hospitalization.

“You should assume when you're going out and about in public right now, that you could be being exposed,” he said. “And you should take all appropriate precautions, because it's out there, broader than just the two people that are currently in the hospital.”

Health officials are advising people to practice preventive measures, like washing hands and avoiding sick people.

As of Thursday afternoon, 97 people in Vermont have tested negative for COVID-19. The health department is monitoring 212 for potential exposure.

- Liam Elder-Connors

Vermont Statehouse to stay open ... for now

Vermont lawmakers will continue working out the Statehouse, for now at least.

Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe said public health officials have not yet advised lawmakers to close the building.

“In the coming days, it may be that we have to vote to close the Statehouse, and we’re really trying to make sure that we do that based on the best information from the Department of Health and their public health experts,” Ashe said.

The House and Senate rules committee voted Wednesday to ban all non-essential activities at the Statehouse. That prohibition includes school visits, non-legislative press conferences, and a weekly concert series.

Find a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the new coronavirus, plus resources, here.

In the meantime, Vermont lawmakers are looking for ways to mitigate the financial impact of COVID-19 on workers, businesses and elder care facilities.

Ashe said he and House Speaker Mitzi Johnson met Thursday morning to discuss the situation.

“We have asked committee chairs to immediately developing ideas that we could pass in a more expedited fashion that would help soften the blow that might be felt outside the Statehouse walls in the coming days,” he said.

Ashe added it’s too early to say what those efforts might look like, though he said  lawmakers will consider changes to the unemployment insurance program for workers whose jobs are affected by the public response to COVID-19.

Ashe said the Legislature is also concerned about the solvency of organizations that care for elderly and other vulnerable populations.

- Peter Hirschfeld 

Williston school district employee tests negative for COVID-19

The Champlain Valley School District employee who stayed at an out-of-state hotel linked to cases of COVID-19, leading to a precautionary shutdown of two Williston schools for two days, has tested negative for the disease.

The district sent out an email update Wednesday night, noting that they had specific consent from the individual to share the information.

Both Williston schools re-opened Wednesday after a deep cleaning.

- Sam Gale Rosen

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Neighbors to the north close gathering places

According to the CBC, starting Friday Montreal will close all its parks, swimming pools, sporting centers, plus the Planetarium and the Botantical Gardens.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault also ordered no more indoor events with more than 250 people. The government is encouraging anyone returning from traveling outside Canada to self-isolate, and the measure is required for public sector employees.

- Elodie Reed

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