Vermont becomes first state to report no new COVID-19 deaths for 30 days

Funeral Home
Workers move bodies to a refrigerated truck from the Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Home in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Wednesday, April 29, 2020. Police responded to a report of human bodies in vehicles, which they determined were connected to the nearby funeral home. The New York Police Department notified the state Department of Health, which oversees funeral homes. The coronavirus pandemic has overrun most funeral homes and morgues in New York City. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

(BOSTON 25 WFXT) – Since states started recording data in March, Vermont has tested nearly 80,000 people for COVID-19 and reported a total of 1,334 confirmed cases of the virus.

Fifty-six deaths have been recorded in the state with that number remaining consistent for more than a month. There have been no new coronavirus deaths since June 16, according to the Vermont Department of Health.

Even before that, the death toll was increasing at a slow rate. From May 15 through May 23, the cumulative death toll sat at 54 deaths. One more person died on May 24 due to coronavirus complications, but no further COVID-19 deaths were reported again until June 15, when the death toll rose again by just one.

In comparison, Massachusetts, which borders Vermont and compares in size by square miles, has recorded more than 8,400 deaths. New Hampshire, another bordering state that’s comparable in size, has recorded 395 coronavirus-related deaths.

New York, the third state that touches Vermont, is often referred to as the epicenter of the virus in the U.S. More than 32,000 people have died in the state due to the pandemic.

“I look at our surrounding states, and they’re doing so much better than they’ve ever done. But they still have deaths all the time,” said Dr. Mark Levine, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health. “There, death is a routine occurrence. Here, it isn’t at all.”

Vermont’s population is significantly smaller than those of its border states. But when considering deaths within a subset, Vermont has recorded nine deaths per 100,000 people. That’s compared to 29 in New Hampshire, 122 in Massachusetts and 165 in New York, according to the Burlington Free Press.

Levine said Vermont’s spread of the virus has been slow and the death toll has been mostly stagnant “because Vermonters are actually doing what we advised them to do.”

Vermont Gov. Philip Scott declared a state of emergency on March 13. That order is still in affect until Aug. 15, as Scott has extended the state of emergency each month after assessing COVID-19 developments.

While there is no statewide mask mandate in place, Vermont officials have encouraged face coverings and gatherings are limited to 25 people, with certain industry exceptions. Fairs and festivals have been canceled, and travelers are required to quarantine for seven days after receiving a negative COVID-19 test result or 14 days if the individual doesn’t get tested.

The governor’s stay-at-home order, which was issued on March 25, expired May 15. And data shows most residents did in fact stay home. As a result, Scott said, the “hundreds and hundreds of lives” were saved.

Phased reopenings with strict guidelines have further curbed the spread of the virus.

“As strict as you think any of our strategies have been over time, and as anxious as you may be for things to start to reopen, the reality is, looking at other places around the country that have opened too fast and seeing what dire straits they’re in — we’re not,” Levine told Vermonters. “So stand with us, and allow us to open in a phased, gradual way, and try to abide by those rules.”

“Hold the course with us, so that we can safely navigate to the day where we have a vaccine, and can get back to the lives that we wanted to live in the first place,” he said

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