BURLINGTON, VT – Governor Phil Scott and Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine Thursday night announced the state’s first deaths among Vermonters infected with novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
The first was a male resident of Windsor County who had been hospitalized at the VA Medical Center in White River Junction. The second was a female resident of the Burlington Health and Rehab long-term care facility in Burlington. Both were over the age of 80.
“With this sad news, I know Vermonters across the state join me in sending our deepest sympathies to the loved ones of these two Vermonters during this difficult time,” said Gov. Scott. “I know some are feeling scared, worried and overwhelmed, but I want you all to know that we will get through this because we’re all in this together.”
“All of us at the Health Department are feeling these first losses very deeply, and I want to express my deepest condolences to the patients’ loved ones, friends and family,” said Dr. Levine. “When COVID-19 first appeared in Vermont, we sincerely hoped the state would be spared such losses. Unfortunately, this new coronavirus can be very serious, especially for vulnerable Vermonters, such as people who live in closed settings like long-term care facilities.”
The Health Department works to identify people who are at high risk because of possible contact with people who have tested positive for the virus, including household members and other close contacts, as well as healthcare workers and first responders who may have been exposed. Each person is assessed for their exposure risk and provided with guidance for their health and recommendations for self-isolation or other measures.
The Health Department is prioritizing testing samples from healthcare workers who are symptomatic, people who are hospitalized, residents of long-term care facilities, people who are immunocompromised, and other high-risk groups.
“We are now experiencing the type of community spread of the virus that we have seen in other states,” said Dr. Levine. “The state has been taking strong action to prevent illness from spreading. But these deaths–and I hope we will experience no more–highlight how extremely important it is for all of us, young and old, to take extra care to help protect the people most vulnerable to serious illness, including older Vermonters and people with chronic illnesses or who have impaired immunity.”
For up-to-date information and guidance for staying healthy and preventing the spread of illness, go to: healthvermont.gov/covid19.