Rep. Sibilia: 3 new cases, schools ordered closed March 15th 2020

All,

I’m certain you may have additional questions or concerns in light of these two news releases. I am still planning to send out additional local information later this evening. If you have questions or info you’d like to see – please be in touch.

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.

Here is what I am telling my own family – if you are older, or have compromised immunity please stay home if at all possible. Publicly gathering increases the odds you may become sick and need hospitalized care. If you are healthy and have not been exposed, please practice social distancing and good hand washing if you are out in public. more science based information here

Health Officials Announce Three New Presumptive Cases of New Coronavirus COVID-19

BURLINGTON, VT – The Vermont Department of Health reported three new presumptive positive cases in Vermont of the new coronavirus COVID-19. To date, there are now four presumptive positive cases and one case that has been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The first is a Windsor County male in his 90’s. He is hospitalized at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in White River Junction, Vermont. The second is a Washington County male in his 50’s. He was initially treated at Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin, Vermont. He is currently in home isolation, following CVMC’s home care protocols. The third new presumptive positive case is also a male in his 50’s. He is a resident of Westchester County, New York and is receiving care at Springfield Hospital in Springfield, Vermont.

Vermont health officials have been in contact with our public health counterparts in New York and our other neighboring states to inform them of these cases. The Health Department’s contact tracing team has been working to investigate the patient’s travel history and related community activities, and to identify anyone who may have been in close contact with the patients. They will be assessed for their exposure risk and provided with guidance for their health and recommendations for self-isolation or other restrictions.

“We have been in contact with the hospitals and know these patients are receiving the best care possible,” said Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD. “We expected that Vermont would see more cases, and that there likely will be more. As Governor Scott said yesterday, the full focus of the state is on minimizing spread of COVID-19 in our communities. We all have a critical role to play in flattening the potential curve of infections, and I ask every Vermonter to visit healthvermont.gov for up to date information about the steps to take to keep themselves and our communities healthy.”

Please go to healthvermont.gov/covid19 for the most up-to-date information and guidance about COVID-19, including from the CDC.

WHEN TO CALL

  • If you have questions about COVID-19: Dial 2-1-1
  • If you are returning from most of Europe, China, Iran or South Korea:
    Call Health Department Epidemiology at 802-863-7240.
  • If you are sick or concerned about your health: Contact your health care provider by phone. Do not go to the hospital, except in a life-threatening situation. Do not call the Health Department.

Person-to-person spread of the virus occurs mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

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 your arm or a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

On March 13, Gov. Phil Scott called on Vermonters to help protect our most vulnerable ­– the elderly and the very ill ­– and announced several mitigation strategies to help slow the spread of the new coronavirus. They include restricting visitor access at long-term care facilities and hospitals, prohibiting large, non-essential gatherings of more than 250 people and suspending out-of-state travel for state employees. Gov. Scott declared a state of emergency to help ensure Vermont has all the necessary resources to respond to this evolving threat. Read the executive order.

# # #

Gov. Scott Orders Orderly Closure of Vermont preK-12 Schools This Week

Districts Tasked with Continuity of Education and Service Plans

Montpelier, Vt. –  In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Phil Scott has announced a Continuity of Education Plan for the orderly dismissal of all schools, and cancellation of all school related activities, no later than Wednesday, March 18. This directive, which will be distributed to schools later today, will last through April 6 — but may very well be extended for a longer period.

Governor Scott’s directive will task local districts with three key components to support the State response:

  • Food and special needs services for children;
  • Collaborating with the state to provide childcare options for healthcare workers and others essential to the response; and
  • Systems for ensuring maintenance of education during the initial dismissal; and a continuing education plan if schools are dismissed for an extended period.

No student is required to be in school Monday or Tuesday, if their parents or guardians would prefer to keep them home. 

Education professionals should report to work as scheduled to assist in these efforts during this period of school dismissal.   Districts are directed to follow workplace hygiene guidance issued by the Vermont Department of Health.

“This decision is based on the best scientific evidence available to the experts at the Vermont Department of Health,” said Dr. Mark Levine. “Closing schools at the end of the day Tuesday is another important step to help keep us ahead of the curve, in terms of preventing and reducing spread of COVID-19.”

“The orderly dismissal of schools is essential to support both the State’s response to COVID-19 and the needs of children and families across Vermont,” Governor Scott said. “We must ensure children are safe, nourished, and still learning even as the traditional structure of school is disrupted.  The work of educators will be essential in this effort.”

Governor Scott continued: “This is a moment of service for all of us. I know that educators across Vermont will do their part to support students and families. I’ve asked the Agency of Education to work with superintendents and local districts to ensure every child continues to receive the services they need from their schools, as well as assignments to take home to continue their academic studies.”

Governor Scott said that, while he hoped schools would only need to be closed through April 6, it is possible they will be closed for a longer period and families and businesses should prepare for this possibility.

MORE ON CONTINUITY OF EDUCATION AND SERVICE PLANS

Governor Scott said, to prepare for the potential for an extended dismissal, each district must have a Continuity of Education Plan that includes:

  • Meal service for those who need it;
  • Services for children with disabilities and special needs;
  • Working with the state to provide district-based options that meet the childcare needs of healthcare workers and other Vermonters essential to the response (EMS, Fire, LEO, National Guard personnel, etc.);
  • Ensuring children have trackable work to do when schools are dismissed Tuesday; and
  • Remote learning plan that prepares for schools to be closed for a longer period.

School districts that have Continuity of Education Plans in place that meet these directives may elect to close before Wednesday. All schools should be closed for instruction at the end of the school day on Tuesday.

Under the Governor’s directive, schools will remain operational for administrators, teachers and staff to sustain essential services and to plan and implement continuity of education through remote learning. The Vermont Department of Health has provided “social distancing” guidance that districts should use to ensure a healthy workplace.

Governor Scott also added that the State understands there will be many unique challenges around specific students or specific programs, and that every district is going to have a different localized approach. 

“We need local government – and especially our schools and educators – to lend their capable hands and their enormous hearts in this effort. It is very important to the overall response.”

###

MEDIA NOTE:  Governor Scott and other state officials will host a media availability tomorrow (Monday, March 16th) to provide an update on overall response and answer questions.  To encourage social distancing a call-in option will be available. 

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