VDH COVID-19 Update: Mask mandate could be coming, childcare cases in Williston

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VDH COVID-19 Update: Mask mandate could be coming, childcare cases in Williston

Tue, 07/21/2020 - 5:29pm -- tim

Daily Update on Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

July 21, 2020

New information is in red and bold.

This update is available online at healthvermont.gov/covid19,Click the “See the Latest Update” button.

Please visit the Vermont Department of Health’s COVID-19 web and data pages healthvermont.gov/covid19

Vermont marks over 30 days without a COVID-19 death

Governor Phil Scott and Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD, noted at a press conference Tuesday that it has now been over 30 days since Vermont has had a death associated with COVID-19.

“From a national standpoint I believe this is unprecedented,” Dr. Levine said.

Vermont’s COVID-19 fatality rate has been 9 deaths per 100,000 as compared with other parts of the Northeast, which range from 29 to 165 deaths per 100,000.

Dr. Levine said a slight majority of the Vermont deaths have occurred inside long-term care facilities like nursing homes. New, strict protocols for those facilities have made a difference.

“We certainly credit the directors and staff of those facilities for instituting intense measures to protect the vulnerable populations they care for, as well as families that have sacrificed visiting their loved ones,” Dr. Levine said.

He also recognized the state’s careful reopening plans and the work of Vermonters to prevent the virus’ spread, which has led to less active cases and, in turn, less opportunity for hospitalizations and serious life-threatening illness.

Governor Scott may consider expanding mask mandate

Though Vermont has done well, Governor Phil Scott said Vermont officials are watching the “forest fire” of cases spreading in the nation’s south and west. Alongside these national trends, and with K-12 schools and colleges and universities reopening in the fall, we have to keep our guard up and protect the progress we’ve made, he said.

“Another option we’re considering is expanding our existing mask mandates,” Gov. Scott said. “We’ve been looking more closely at the best time to deploy this tool, as well as others. “And if it continues to look like this fire could be headed back toward us, an expanded mask policy will be part of the mix.”

Scott said he would have more information by Friday, informed by the updated regional data to be presented then by Commissioner Pieciak.

Vermont also has the lowest total case count in the nation. It also very likely has the lowest positivity rate.

No COVID-19 outbreak in Bennington/Windham Counties

Health Commissioner Dr Mark Levine discusses antigen testing during Tuesday's press briefing. ORCA Media screen grab.

Dr. Levine said Tuesday that the Health Department has gathered more data as part of its investigation into positive antigen test results reported by the Manchester Medical Center and determined there is not a community outbreak of COVID-19.

The Health Department has completed interviews with all 65 people who tested positive through antigen testing at the clinic.

A PCR test, which is recommended to confirm the antigen result, has been conducted for 52 of the individuals, Dr. Levine said.

Of those 52 people, 48 tested negative. Four people tested positive and are considered confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Dr. Levine reported that 1,613 people were also tested through various sites in the area last week, most in Manchester. That PCR testing only turned up one additional positive result.

“We do not believe community transmission of COVID-19 is occurring,” Dr. Levine said. “The clinicians at the MMC continue to work cooperatively with us and are just as concerned about finding the explanation for the discordant test results between antigen and PCR as we are.”

The Health Department is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the tests and our investigation.

Childcare cases in Williston

Dr Levine also acknowledged at the press briefing that there was a recent situation in Williston at a childcare facility in which an unmasked adult exposed more than one child to the coronavirus. The "very young" children tested positive for COVID-19.

He could not be more specific on the number because of privacy concerns, but said it was a small number.

As for the situation itself, "It's gone one full week without any reported cases," Dr Levine said. "It was the adult who was the ill person initially, and then some children subsequently tested positive. The bottom line, though, again, the theme we've been repeating, is the transmission pattern is usually adult to child, not child to adult, whether we're talking about childcare or kindergarten to grade six, it seems to be the way the pattern goes."

"This also gives me another opportunity to tout, if I could, our success record with childcares across the state. Childcares were operative from the very beginning because of the issue of essential workers needing to have reliable childcare so that they could perform their duties, and we've expanded them since. This is not another occurrence of many. This is a unique occurrence, really, considering how many childcares there are in the state."

Dr Levine said parents and childcare providers have had concerns just by the fact that we're in the COVID era and "things have worked out very, very well. But this does illustrate that there will be a case here, there will be a case there. Much like we're talking about schools and colleges, there will be cases in those settings as well. But as long as they can be isolated cases, scattered cases, don't occur with great frequency, they can be contained very effectively through the public health measures we've utilized."

"That's what's important for everyone to understand," he said.

Case Information

Current COVID-19 Activity in Vermont

As of 12 p.m. on July 21, 2020





Total cases*



(7 new)


Currently hospitalized




Hospitalized under investigation




Total people recovered








People tested




Travelers monitored




Contacts monitored




People completed monitoring




* Includes testing conducted at the Health Department Laboratory, commercial labs and other public health labs.

+ Death occurring in persons known to have COVID-19. Death certificate may be pending. 

Hospitalization data is provided by the Vermont Healthcare Emergency Preparedness Coalition and is based on hospitals updating this information.

Find more at the data dashboard: healthvermont.gov/currentactivity.

Get Tested for COVID-19

People who want to be tested can contact their health care provider for a referral.

For people who do not have symptoms of COVID-19, pop-up sites for testing are currently scheduled through July. The sites operate from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

See how to get tested and to make an appointment.

Guidance for Vermonters

If you are having a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to the hospital.

If you are having even mild symptoms of COVID-19, call your health care provider.

Maintain physical distancing of at least 6 feet and wear a mask when near others.

Visit our Frequently Asked Questions.

Traveler Information

With case numbers up in states across the country, it is important to have the latest information about travel to Vermont, including about quarantine requirements, testing, and to sign up with Sara Alert for symptom check reminders.  

Take Care of Your Emotional and Mental Health

If you or someone you know is in crisis or needs emotional support, help is available 24/7:

For more information: