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MONTPELIER — To relieve some of the pressure on Vermont hospitals caused by a combination of factors, including COVID-19, the state is opening 80 beds at long-term care and rehabilitation facilities, said Agency of Human Services Secretary Mike Smith.

“It’s clear that our health care system as the governor mentioned and our health care workers are under stress,” Smith said during the Gov. Phil Scott’s weekly virus briefing on Tuesday.

It’s a result of a combination of factors, including people delaying care and arriving at hospitals or doctors’ offices with more acute conditions; people going to the emergency department with mental health needs; and a shortage of staffed beds available for patients to be discharged from hospitals, he said.

“The main point I really want to make here is that across the board our health care workforce is under stress,” Smith said. “With that said, day in and day out we see them going above and beyond to care for their fellow Vermonters. So I want to take a moment to thank them, to sincerely thank them for all that they do,” he said.

— The Associated Press