Vermont reports 3 more virus-related deaths
Sears, Campion call for shelter-in-place order
Three more people linked to the Burlington Health and Rehabilitation Center have died after contracting COVID-19, Vermont's top public health official said Monday.
Separately, Gov. Phil Scott on Monday directed all businesses and not-for-profit entities to do all they can to put into place telecommuting or work-from-home procedures, setting an 8 p.m. Monday deadline. The governor said that more steps would be taken to keep more Vermonters at home.
"We're now entering a new phase in this fight to flatten the curve," Scott said.
Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said that more than a dozen patients at the Burlington center and one staff member have now tested positive for the coronavirus, which causes COVID-19.
Four of Vermont's five virus deaths are connected to Burlington Health and Rehabilitation.
Levine said officials have been in contact with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention seeking additional guidance for the Burlington outbreak.
"They have no desire to come here because, as I have said before, we have numerous outbreaks across the country in long-term care facilities as a result of COVID-19," Levine said.
The number of Vermont patients who have tested positive for the virus jumped by almost two dozen to a total of 75, although a part of that is a function of the additional testing that is taking place, Levine said.
Scott aid Monday Vermonters should prepare for more restrictions to help stem the pandemic that is sweeping the world. Scott wouldn't describe those restrictions in detail, but he said it would not be a shelter-in-place order.
"What we are going to advocate is just what we have done thus far. It will probably take another step,"' Scott said. "We want people to stay at home."
Bennington County state senators Brian Campion and Dick Sears issued a joint statement Monday, urging the governor to immediately institute a shelter-in-place, or at a minimum, stay-at-home order for the state.
"Vermont must take an important next step in order to protect its citizens and to stanch the spread of this virus," the senators said.
"You can still live your life, order take out, enjoy the outdoors, walk the dog, care for your family, pick up medicine, visit a doctor or get supplies to work from home. But when you are not performing such tasks, it is very important that you stay home and it is imperative the Governor mandate this through an executive action as soon as possible."
For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus.
The president of the University of Vermont says remote instruction will continue for the rest of the spring semester and graduation is unlikely to happen as planned to help reduce the spread of the new coronavirus.
In a letter Monday to students and staff, UVM President Suresh Garimella said students currently living in residential halls should return home.
Students, except those approved for emergency housing, will not have access to rooms, their possessions or associated facilities after March 30.
Garimella says UVM will work with students who may not have viable alternatives to provide emergency housing options.
UVM is also encouraging non-local students living off campus to go home. The school will issue housing and meal credit and plans to make a decision about commencement by the end of March.
The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
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