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State officials: Virus still here

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MONTPELIER — The coronavirus is still in communities, prompting the state to offer pop-up testing sites like the one in Brattleboro on Sunday.

"Though the sun is shining, the weather is hot, it's summer vacation season, the state and the country are actively engaged in reopening the economy," Health Commissioner Mark Levine said Monday during the governor's regular press conference on COVID-19 updates, "the novel coronavirus has failed to take notice of any of that. It is here and it doesn't seem to be going anywhere."

The northeastern part of the United States is doing better now with the virus than the southern half of the country and the West Coast, Levine said, but about 90 countries and nearly half of the states in America are seeing increases in cases. He noted the majority of cases are now being seen in 18- to 34-year-olds.

Vermont had no current hospitalizations at the time of the press conference and is not seeing major growth in the number of deaths, Levine said. The number of Vermont deaths has been hovering at 55 since May 24, but ticked up to 56 on June 16.

"But we can't give up," he said, adding that state officials anticipate new outbreaks will occur and have ways to quickly respond.

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Two pop-up testing sites recently went up in Windham County and Rutland County. Levine cited investigations of infections involving two adults and four children from a residential community in Windham County and two individuals infected from a work site in Rutland County.

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Once someone is determined to have the virus, family members and coworkers are contacted, he said. Those who test positive are given instructions for isolation and working with medical providers.

Levine said if the Vermont Department of Health assesses that there is a significant risk, a pop-up testing site will be set up out of "concern for the greater community."

"It makes it much easier to early on identify who's at risk, who may actually have contracted the virus," he said. "It doesn't mean we know something special and we expect hundreds of people to be infected."

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Asked whether more information about what led to the pop-up testing sites would be released, Levine said doing so might mislead people.

Mike Smith, secretary of human services, described two cases involving new intakes at correctional facilities in Chittenden County and Rutland County. He said contact tracing and mass testing are underway.

In Rutland, all staff and inmates besides the infected inmate tested negative for the virus Saturday. Smith said they would all be tested again.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com and at @CMaysBR on Twitter.


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