Rep. Sibilia March 8 update on COVID-19 Coronavirus

Good afternoon,

The first presumptive case of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus has been identified. The patient is receiving treatment at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington.

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What follows is information for my constituents. Legislators are getting regular updates from the Department of Health. I will share relevant information and updates as they become available. The most helpful things we can do to limit the spread of this flu/pneumonia like illness is stay home if you have a fever or cough, practice good hygiene and hand-washing, and limit unnecessary touching in public like handshakes and hugs.

Bookmark these pages for updates:

What’s happening in Vermont?

Vermont cases of COVID-191
Vermonters tested negative for COVID-1928
Vermonters being monitored224
Vermonters who have completed monitoring23
As of March 8, 2020 noon

What is a coronavirus? (WHO guidance)

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.  

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.  Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans. 

Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. 

What is the COVID-19 Coronavirus? (WHO guidance)

COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. The main way the disease spreads is through respiratory droplets expelled by someone who is coughing.

Who is considered high risk? (CDC guidance)

Older adults and people who have severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease seem to be at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness. Early data suggest older people are twice as likely to have serious COVID-19 illness. This may be because:

  • As people age, their immune systems change, making it harder for their body to fight off diseases and infection.
  • Many older adults are also more likely to have underlying health conditions that make it harder to cope with and recover from illness.

If a COVID-19 outbreak happens in your community, it could last for a long time. Depending on the severity of the outbreak, public health officials may recommend community actions to reduce exposures to COVID-19. These actions can slow the spread and reduce the impact of disease.

If you are at increased risk for COVID-19 complications due to age or because you have a severe underlying medical condition, it is especially important for you to take actions to reduce your risk of exposure.

How can I protect myself? (State of Vermont guidance)

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection. Person-to-person spread of the virus is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Much is still unknown about how the virus spreads. Take these everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of germs:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Who can get tested for COVID-19? (State of Vermont guidance)

If you traveled to affected locations (see Guidance for Travelers on this page) within the past two weeks or have been in close contact with a person with COVID-19, and develop a fever, cough or have difficulty breathing, contact your health care provider right away.

If you are ill, call your health care provider to find out if you should be seen for an evaluation and consideration of testing. Health care providers may decide to test the following people for COVID-19:

  • People who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and is hospitalized.
  • People – whether hospitalized or in an outpatient setting ­– who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and a travel history to an affected area or had close contact with another person who tested positive for COVID-19.

The state will ensure that anyone who meets the medical requirements for testing for COVID-19 can do so at no cost.

More questions that are answered at the Vermont Health Department

  • Should I wear a face mask when I go out in public?
  • Where is it safe to travel internationally?
  • What is the turnaround time for testing?
  • Where can I find translated materials?
  • Resources for schools, child care programs and colleges
  • Information for health care professionals
  • Guidance for businesses
  • Guidance for first responders
  • Guidance for long-term care facilities

Vermonters with questions can call 211 for more assistance. Vermonters in my district who need added assistance can also contact me at 802-384-0233.

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