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Projections positive for slowing spread of COVID-19 in Vermont

Vermont is on a better-than-expected trajectory in the COVID-19 outbreak as case numbers continue to decline, according to the state’s latest predictions for new infections, hospitalizations and medical need.
“Overall the news continues to be good,” Michael Pieciak, commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulation, said as he outlined the projections Friday. “Vermont’s actual experience continues to trend better than even our best case forecasts.”
The state appears to have reached the peak for demand on hospital resources, he said. But, Pieciak said, there is still reason for caution. 
“Although we have seen a reduction in the new number of COVID-19 cases, many people in Vermont are still shedding the virus, meaning that they can infect other people,” he said. “We don’t anticipate reaching our peak on this important measurement until about a week or so.”
New cases of COVID-19 reported over the weekend bring the state’s total number of confirmed cases since the beginning of the outbreak to 851, as reported Sunday. Forty-six people have died of the virus. The number of hospitalized patients continued to decline.
At the moment, cases of COVID-19 are on track to double every 37 days, a steep reduction from earlier in the crisis when case numbers doubled every three to seven days, according to a chart presented at the press conference.
The state does not expect the number of COVID-19 cases to exceed health care resources, according to the model.
Pieciak said models from the World Health Organization and the University of Washington suggested that Vermont was on a good track to begin reopening the state based on the growth rate of the virus. Gov. Phil Scott on Friday announced that crews of five people or fewer will be allowed to return to work in certain sectors.
Pieciak credited Vermonters’ willingness to socially distance as the main reason for the state’s positive trend. Mobility data shows that Vermonters are adhering to guidelines to stay home and keep distance from others, according to a chart presented at the press conference.
“We have also stated all along the practice social distancing is the most important thing Vermonters can do,” he said. “And it’s clear that together, our mutual sacrifices are helping us to defeat the virus, and continue to save lives.”
On Thursday the state also published new details about how researchers created their predictions for the future of COVID-19 in Vermont. While officials have presented the totals — put together by four research teams — the new website has interactive models and explanations of the researchers’ methodologies.
The research teams have different predicted scenarios for how many COVID-19 cases Vermont will have, and have updated their predictions several times during the course of the outbreak. 
For example, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington released a model on March 31 that predicted 93,000 deaths nationally from the first wave of cases. Its most recent model predicts 67,000 deaths.
 

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