The number of cases of COVID-19 in Vermont jumped more than 50%, going from under 30 to approaching 50, the state health department reported Saturday.
Of the new cases, more than half a dozen were at the Burlington Health and Rehabilitation Center, which had already reported nearly a half dozen cases and the death of one elderly woman resident.
The health department is now prioritizing identifying and testing any patients or workers at the Burlington rehabilitation center who are showing symptoms. None of the new cases reported at the center have been hospitalized.
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.
Two Vermont COVID-19 patients have died, including the elderly woman from the Burlington center, and elderly veteran from Windsor County.
“All of us at the Health Department are deeply concerned with the news of these additional positive cases” Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said in a Saturday statement. “Unfortunately, this new coronavirus can be very serious, especially for vulnerable Vermonters, and we have seen long-term care facilities across the country struggle to contain the virus.”
The numbers reported Saturday came after Vermont Gov. Phil Scott ordered the closure of “close-contact” businesses, such as gyms, hair salons and tattoo parlors. Scott’s order also restricted the size of gatherings to fewer than 10 people.
The governor’s order includes businesses such as gyms, hair salons, fitness centers, barbers, nail salons and tattoo parlors
Other businesses may remain open, but they must comply with federal and state guidance for social distancing.
The Vermont Legislature plans to return to the Statehouse in Montpelier next week to act on legislation designed to help the state recover from the economic damage caused by the outbreak, but leaders are working to determine the best way to do that safely.
Before lawmakers adjourned March 13, the House passed a bill that would expand eligibility for unemployment benefits to people who lost their jobs because of the virus, but to become law it must be passed by the Senate.
The Vermont Constitution requires that lawmakers be present to vote.
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