With this regular feature, the Banner runs down breaking local and regional developments in the coronavirus pandemic.
The statistics supplied by the Vermont Department of Health at midday each day are accurate as of the end of the previous day. The information is preliminary and subject to change.
One Vermonter died of COVID-19 over the past day, the health department reported Thursday. The death toll is now 75.
Twenty-nine Vermonters are hospitalized with the disease; three of those patients are in intensive care units.
The health department reported 178 new cases of COVID-19 over the past day. It is a new single-day record, eclipsing the 152 cases recorded on Nov. 18. The cumulative total reported is 4,642, which is 181 higher than the previous day’s total. The department did not explain the discrepancy.
Each of Vermont’s 14 counties reported at least one new case over the past day. Chittenden County had 64 new cases; Washington County had 29; Orleans County had 17; Franklin and Windham counties each had 13; Addison County had 12; Orange County had nine; Rutland County had eight; Lamoille County had four; Windsor County had three; Bennington and Grand Isle counties each had two; and Caledonia and Essex counties each had one.
Among Vermont counties, Bennington has the sixth-highest rate of COVID-19, at 62.9 cases per 10,000 residents, and Windham County is seventh, at 62.2. Washington County, which has recorded 217 cases over the past two weeks, is first, at 124.0 cases per 10,000.
So far, 227,464 people have been tested.
The number of Vermonters reported to have recovered from COVID-19 rose by 71, to 2,726.
The health department reported that 384 people were being monitored for the disease as of Thursday, an increase of 27 from Wednesday. Of these, 209 are visitors to Vermont.
HOSPITAL: CYBERATTACK ISSUES CAUSED DELAY IN TEST REPORTING
Vermont’s largest hospital was delayed in reporting about 50 coronavirus test results to the state because of a tech outage from a cyberattack in late October and its work to restore the system, the hospital’s president said Thursday.
The results were from testing done Nov. 22-29 and were sent to the Health Department on Monday, Dr. Stephen Leffler, president of the University of Vermont Medical Center, said during a news briefing.
The Health Department contacted the hospital after not receiving positive results for several days, Human Services Secretary Mike Smith said.
The tests were ordered by a medical provider, and everyone should have been notified by their provider, Smith said. The Health Department is now contacting the people who tested positive for contract tracing, officials said.
“We’re extremely sorry for this error and any impact that it had on any of our patients or our community,” Leffler said.
The hospital will be using a fax system to report the results until the information technology problems are fixed, he said.
Sixteen of those cases were included in Vermont’s daily virus case numbers on Thursday, and more are anticipated on Friday.
FACEBOOK TO REMOVE COVID-19 VACCINE-RELATED INFORMATION
Facebook said Thursday it will start removing false claims about COVID-19 vaccines, in its latest move to counter a tide of coronavirus-related online misinformation.
In the coming weeks, the social network will begin taking down any Facebook or Instagram posts with false information about the vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts.
The U.S. tech giant is taking action as the first COVID-19 vaccines are set to be rolled out. Britain this week became the first country to give emergency authorization for a vaccine developed by American drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech, and innoculations could start within days. Regulators in the U.S., the European Union and Canada are also vetting vaccines.
Facebook said it’s applying a policy to remove virus misinformation that could lead to “imminent physical harm.”
Posts that fall afoul of the policy could include phony claims about vaccine safety, efficacy, ingredients or side effects.
“For example, we will remove false claims that COVID-19 vaccines contain microchips, or anything else that isn’t on the official vaccine ingredient list,” the company said in a blog post.
Conspiracy theories about the vaccines that are already known to be false will also be removed.
Facebook has taken other steps to try to stop the spread of vaccine and coronavirus-related misinformation on its platform. From March to October, it has removed 12 million posts with coronavirus-related misinformation. The deleted posts include one by President Donald Trump with a link to a Fox News video of him saying children are “virtually immune” to the virus.
In October, the company banned ads discouraging vaccinations, though it made an exception for advocacy ads about government vaccine policies. The company has also promoted articles debunking COVID-19 misinformation on an information center.