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BENNINGTON — A second resident of the Vermont Veterans’ Home has tested positive for COVID-19 and is hospitalized at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center.

Melissa Jackson, the facility’s CEO, said Friday the infection was confirmed through a standard PCR test this week. She said she could not provide a report on the veteran’s condition because of patient privacy restrictions.

Jackson had announced on Wednesday that another resident who was diagnosed with the disease in early January had died. That infection was revealed through regular testing after a half dozen staff members at the Veterans Home tested positive for COVID-19 in late December and two more tested positive shortly afterward.

All of the staff members, who were asymptomatic prior to their positive tests, have since been cleared to return to work, Jackson said.

She said Friday that she and staff members have consulted with officials from the state Department of Health, and it was decided to continue on the testing schedule already in place, along with continued quarantining of all residents in their rooms since the December outbreak.

A Zoom videoconference meeting was held Friday afternoon to update family members of the residents and answer questions, Jackson said. Visits from family and friends have been discontinued since the recent outbreak surfaced through testing.

“We will continue to do what we are doing,” Jackson said. “There will be no immediate changes.”

Currently, she said, standard PCR tests are given to staff and residents twice weekly and rapid Antigen tests are given daily to both groups.

It remains unclear how the resident now hospitalized was infected, she said.

While vaccination of staff and residents is well underway, Jackson said that a vaccinated person could still become infected but have only a mild case and be asymptomatic.

Of approximately 200 staff members, about 75 percent will have had at least one of the two shots required for the vaccination after a clinic planned for Saturday, Jackson said, while the others declined the vaccination or have yet to receive it.

She said medical staff are meeting with those not yet vaccinated to provide information and answer questions.

Of 106 residents, five declined the shot and one could not receive it because of medical conditions, she said.

Jackson said she continues to have concerns as she has since COVID-19 reached the U.S. in the spring.

“It keeps me up at night,” she said, adding that she believes the staff “is doing every thing we can” during a time when Bennington County is experiencing a high rate of COVID-19 infection.

“Our staff is doing everything they can,” she said.

Jim Therrien writes for New England Newspapers in Southern Vermont. Email jtherrien@benningtonbanner.com

Reporter/editor

Jim Therrien reports for the three NENI newspapers in Southern Vermont. He previously worked as a reporter and editor at the Berkshire Eagle, the Bennington Banner, the Springfield (Mass.) Republican and the former North Adams Transcript.


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