BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - Amid a record surge in virus cases, the Vermont Health Department is looking for people who attended two Halloween parties and others who participated in a bowling league so they can be tested for the virus that causes COVID-19.
The department says contact tracers have been unsuccessful in getting all the information they need about the people who attended the Oct. 31 parties in Marshfield and Milton.
They are also looking for people who took part in bowling leagues at Spare Time in Colchester on Nov. 4 and 5.
People who attended those events should be tested and follow public health guidelines for preventing the spread of the virus.
The state’s ability to contain the spread of COVID-19 relies heavily on the cooperation of Vermonters who have tested positive and their close contacts, said Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine.
“When the contact tracing team is not getting the information it needs, then people who may have been exposed to the virus and don’t know it might be unintentionally transmitting it to others,” Levine said in a statement. “That’s how an outbreak starts.”
State officials say a number of recent cases have been traced to social gatherings like baby showers, Halloween parties, deer camps and other small gatherings where masking and physical distance broke down.
The call for more cooperation comes as the number of new cases of the virus is continuing to spike in Vermont. On Thursday, for the second consecutive day, statistics showed the state set single-day records for new infections.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Vermont has risen over the past two weeks from 21 new cases per day on Oct. 28 to 38 new cases per day on Nov. 11.
Even though the number of cases in Vermont is increasing, the state still has the lowest rate in the country of new COVID-19 cases per capita in the last 14 days.
Statistics reported Thursday showed there were 19 people hospitalized in the state with COVID-19 and five were in the intensive care unit.
More than 2,650 cases have been reported since the pandemic began. The number of deaths remains at 59.
As the size of the spike became apparent, Gov. Phil Scott ordered the State Emergency Operations Center to carry out existing surge plans, including redeployment of field hospital sites by National Guard soldiers as a precautionary measure.
State officials are reiterating their calls for Vermonters to comply with virus guidance, including wearing masks, staying 6 feet (2 meters) apart, avoiding crowds and quarantining.
The city of Burlington is setting up pop-up clinics in the New North End to test for the virus that causes COVID-19 after the virus was found in wastewater.
The free tests will be offered Thursday and Friday at the Robert Miller Community and Recreation Center.
City officials say wastewater monitoring shows the virus may be on the rise in the area. Detection of the virus in wastewater can occur as much as three to seven days before it is found in positive tests.
On Thursday, the tests will be offered from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. On Friday, they will be offered from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
While the tests are free, appointments are required.
Like much of the region and the country, Vermont is seeing a surge in virus cases.
Gov. Phil Scott and other state officials are reiterating their calls for Vermonters to comply with virus guidance, including wearing masks, staying 6 feet (2 meters) apart, avoiding crowds and quarantining.
The officials say a number of the recent cases have been traced to social gatherings like baby showers, Halloween parties, deer camps and other small gatherings where masking and physical distance broke down.
This story was first published on Nov. 12, 2020. It was updated on Nov. 13, 2020, to correct the dates involved in a contract tracing effort at a bowling alley to Nov. 4 and 5 instead of Nov. 3 and 4.
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