MONTPELIER —Gov. Phil Scott and the state health commissioner reiterated calls Friday for Vermonters to follow new COVID-19 restrictions, including not gathering with other households and avoiding travel.
They said they have seen very concerning growth in coronavirus cases in Vermont, and four deaths in the past two weeks, after months without a fatality.
“I cannot stress this enough. We need people to limit their contacts with others,” Scott said during his virus briefing.
He urged Vermonters to take a look at the state’s case numbers, rising hospitalizations and deaths and states around the country that are exceeding their hospital capacity.
“Also think about the Vermonters we’ve lost,” he said. “They were grandmothers, grandfathers, moms, dads, husbands wives and friends.”
Such deaths are increasing because the amount of virus in the community is rising and getting into facilities that care for seniors, he said.
With rising cases, it’s easy to think the worst, said Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine. “But this is not a runaway train yet. It’s picking up speed, but we can get it under control if we all work together.”
Levine also provided news on when Vermont may get its first doses of a vaccine.
“Perhaps the earliest Vermont could see a vaccine on its doorsteps for a limited number of doses would be in the range of Dec. 10,” he said.
The governor clarified the ban on gatherings between households by saying that fitness activities between no more than two people from different households are allowed. Individuals in dangerous or unhealthy situations, may take shelter with another household and individuals who live alone may gather with one other household, he said.
“This means you can take a walk with a friend but you have to maintain distance and wear a mask,” he said. “But you have to maintain your distance and wear a mask.”
Associated Press writer Wilson Ring in Stowe contributed to this report.