Health officials say valley residents not at heightened risk

Vermont Department of Health Deputy Commissioner Tracy Dolan

READSBORO- The Vermont Department of Health says Readsboro and other Deerfield Valley residents do not need to take any special precautions to prevent contracting COVID-19 (coronavirus).
A Readsboro man received a presumptive diagnosis of coronavirus over the weekend, the first case in Vermont. According to Southern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington, the patient is in “serious condition” and remains in isolation in a “negative pressure” room. According to hospital officials, the results of testing that may confirm the patient has COVID-19 virus have not been received as of Tuesday morning, although they were expected on Monday.

Vermont Department of Health Deputy Commissioner Tracy Dolan says local residents are not at any heightened risk for exposure. “There's nothing unique people in Readsboro need to do,” Dolan said. “Our advice is the same as it is for anyone else in Vermont. The key is hand washing. If you're not feeling well, stay home. If you've recently returned from China, Italy, South Korea, or Iran, you should stay home and monitor your health for 14 days. If you've had contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus, you should reach out to us.”

Those who have had direct contact with someone that has coronavirus should call the department at (802) 863-7240 or 1-800-640-4373. Dolan says that only those who have had direct contact with someone that has a confirmed case of COVID-19 are likely to receive a follow-up phone call. “If you've had contact with a brother or sister of someone who has coronavirus, or if there's several degrees of separation from a confirmed case, it's unlikely we'll provide any advice.”

But the Vermont Health Department may be in touch with some individuals even before they call. Dolan says the department is conducting a “contact investigation,” and has been contacting individuals they have reason to believe have had direct contact with the patient. Dolan says the department's investigation is ongoing, but thanks to the cooperation of Readsboro residents and officials, people have already been contacted. “If the health department hasn't reached out to you, unless you've had direct, close contact with a patient, you can go about your way,” Dolan said. “We've been getting great cooperation from the people of Readsboro, people have been very helpful, and we're feeling very successful.

Testing for the virus, Dolan said, should be arranged through a physician, but she says only those who have direct contact with someone that has the virus need to be tested. “If a physician believes they should be tested, they'll receive testing.”

SVMC is offering “drive-up” testing for patients who have a referral from their primary care provider. According to a release issued on Monday, the process was initiated over the weekend to minimize potential viral exposure to other patients and staff for patients who do not need emergency care or monitoring. Emergency department staff wear personal protective equipment, swab patients in their cars, and remind patients to practice self-isolation until results are known. Samples are sent to a Vermont lab for results, which typically arrive to the primary care provider within 72 hours. The State of Vermont is not charging for the test, and the patient will not incur hospital emergency room charges.

SVMC officials say those who have had casual exposure to someone positive for COVID-19 should stay at home, self-monitor by taking their temperature regularly, and call their primary care provider if symptoms arise. The spread of the virus through secondary contact – with someone who has come into contact with someone positive for COVID-19 – is considered low-risk if that person has not had any symptoms. Anyone who has serious symptoms, including fever, a dry cough, and shortness of breath should contact their primary care provider for a referral and instructions for using drive-up testing or a referral for treatment.

The Deerfield Valley News

797 VT Route 100 North
Wilmington, VT 05363

Phone: 802-464-3388
Fax: 802-464-7255

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