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Staff Report

BURLINGTON — A female resident of Windham County is one of 16 new positive cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 reported by the Vermont Department of Health on Saturday. The woman in her 50s is hospitalized at the Cheshire Medical Center in Keene, N.H.

No other information was released about the woman. She is the second positive case of COVID-19 reported in Windham County.  On Friday, the Department of Health reported that a male resident in his 40s tested positive for the virus. That Windham County resident is not hospitalized.

The new positive tests bring the total number of identified cases in Vermont to 49, according to the Department of Health.

Seven of the new cases reported Saturday are residents of the Burlington Health & Rehabilitation Center (BHR) in Burlington. Health Department epidemiologists have been on site and issued updated guidance for this facility and all long-term care facilities statewide with a known infection. Health officials have also spoken with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Burlington Health & Rehabilitation Center has been following CDC guidance on treatment and isolation of COVID-19 patients since Monday, March 16. The Health Department has prioritized identifying and testing any symptomatic patients and health care workers at the facility following the initial positive tests. The facility is checking the temperature of all staff before they enter the building and having employees who are symptomatic stay at home.

"All of us at the Health Department are deeply concerned with the news of these additional positive cases" said Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD, in a press release. "Unfortunately, this new coronavirus can be very serious, especially for vulnerable Vermonters, and we have seen long-term care facilities across the country struggle to contain the virus."

Facilities should continue to take aggressive measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 including checking the temperature of all staff before they enter the building and having employees that are symptomatic remain at home.

The Health Department continues to prioritize testing samples from health care workers who are symptomatic, people who are hospitalized, residents of long-term care facilities, people who are immunocompromised, and other high-risk groups.

"This is perhaps the most complex public health event most Vermonters have experienced," Dr. Levine said. "And I can't repeat this enough - It is extremely important for all of us, young and old, to take extra care to help protect the people most vulnerable to serious illness - older Vermonters and people with chronic illnesses or who have impaired immunity."