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Vermont Coronavirus Updates For Saturday, March 28

A theater on a main street with the words "stay safe, see you soon."
Howard Weiss-Tisman
VPR File
The Latchis Theatre in Brattleboro on Thursday, March 26, acknowledging the present and looking forward to the post-coronavirus future.

Vermont reporters provide a quick round-up of ongoing local coverage of coronavirus for Saturday, March 28.


Vermont's COVID-19-related deaths up to 12

Two more people have died from the coronavirus in Vermont, the health department reported Saturday afternoon.

The state now has 12 deaths and 211 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

At least seven of those deaths have been patients in the Burlington Health & Rehab facility, which has experienced an outbreak.

Health Commissioner Mark Levine said Friday the state will greatly expand the number of people it tests for the coronavirus in the coming days.

- Mark Davis

Vermont Olympian self-quarantined following competition in Europe

Two-time Olympian and Barton native Susan Dunklee has just completed a two-week-long self-quarantine in her Craftsbury home following a winter of traveling for competition in Europe.

Dunklee, 34, won a silver medal in the 7.5 kilometer spring at the World Biathlon Championships in Rasen-Antholz, Italy on Feb. 14. She said she was in Finland when President Trump announced on March 12 his 30-day ban on travel from Europe to slow the spread of COVID-19.   

“We got woken up at four in the morning … by our team staff,” Dunklee said. “So our team staff basically evacuated us at that point.”

To get back to the U.S., Dunklee said they had to travel through five airports, and that they “were hand-sanitizing the whole day.”

That was about two weeks ago. Since then, Dunklee has self-isolated in her home.

“I certainly don’t want to bring this home to my family or my community, my neighbors,” she said.

Dunklee added she hasn’t had any symptoms of COVID-19.

- Mitch Wertlieb

Health officials caution against use of anti-malarial drugs for COVID-19

State health officials are cautioning Vermonters about using anti-malarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for treatment or prevention of illness caused by the coronavirus.

In a written statement, the health department noted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved any drugs for treating COVID-19, and the Centers for Disease Control  has said there’s no data available from randomized clinical trials.

Health officials further warned that there are potentially serious risks to taking these drugs, including death.

“Most people who get COVID-19 can manage their symptoms at home with rest, drinking fluids and taking fever-reducing medication,” the health department said. “Talk to your health care provider before taking any substance alleged to prevent or treat COVID-19.”

- Elodie Reed

PPE production in St. Johnsbury Masonic Hall

The Masonic Hall on the third floor of Catamount Arts Center has officially been transformed into a sewing factory to produce gowns and masks to supply the region’s health care workers.

The Caledonian Record reports the workers come from a variety of health-related jobs within Northern Counties Health Care. They’ve been re-assigned during the health crisis to turn out Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the region’s health workers on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis.

- Mary Engisch

UVMMC building triage space while laying off some employees

The state's biggest health network is preparing for a surge of COVID-19 patients, even as some employees are facing reduced pay and even layoffs.

This news came as construction crews build extra triage space near the University of Vermont Medical Center Emergency Room in Burlington, and as hospital officials scout out other locations to house more patients at places like the University of Vermont's Patrick Gym, if needed.

VTDigger writes UVM Medical Center hospital officials say some staff are being told they can apply for another job in the hospital at the same pay rate, take vacation time, take unpaid time off, or be furloughed.

- Mary Engisch

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