COVID-19 flares up at Helen Porter nursing home

MIDDLEBURY — Helen Porter Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center on Thursday, April 27, confirmed that 21 of its residents are currently battling COVID-19. As a result, the facility has reinstituted its visitor/staff masking requirement until further notice.

Porter Medical Center officials also confirmed on Thursday that four members of the Helen Porter community (either residents or staff) had contracted the virus during the past two calendar days. Nine staff and 10 residents have tested positive for the virus during the past seven days.

An automated phone line — 802-385-3661 — providing COVID updates for Helen Porter states that “all units” at the facility are “in outbreak status.”

On a more positive note, Porter spokesperson Christopher Morris said Porter Hospital hasn’t seen any recent increase in COVID cases and still has its “normal” visitor policy in place.

It was on Wednesday, April 12, that the Vermont affiliates of the University of Vermont Health Network — which includes Porter Medical Center — lifted masking requirements for patients and employees in public areas, returning to pre-COVID hospital visitation guidelines for most clinical units where visitation restrictions were not in place before the pandemic.

Despite the spike in cases at Helen Porter, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting that Addison County’s COVID-19 community level was “low” over the past week; Vermont as a whole also had a low level of COVID-19 in the community (though, Rutland County’s level was “medium” with 12 cases as of Wednesday).

The CDC reported 42 cases of COVID-19 in Addison County for the week ended on Wednesday, April 26. That was a 740% increase — a large percentage from a very small starting number.

The CDC said that 31,406 Addison County residents — or 85.4% — have taken at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. The agency said 36% of Addison County residents have got a COVID vaccine booster shot.

COVID-19 is very scarce across the vast majority of the United States. Nationwide, the CDC reported this week that 3,147 counties — 97.7% —had low levels of COVID-19, while only 62 counties (1.9%) have a medium level of the disease, and 12 counties (all in Texas, Nebraska and Alaska) have high levels of COVID-19 in the community. Most of those counties are very rural, meaning even a small number of cases has a big impact in terms of percent of total population.

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