For Immediate Release: November 16, 2020
Media Contact:

Ben Truman │ Vermont Department of Health
802-951-5153 / 802-863-7281
[email protected]


State and Local Officials Organize Stepped-up Response to COVID-19 Cases in Orange and Washington Counties
Washington and Orange counties epicenter of current surge in cases

BURLINGTON, VT – With Orange and Washington Counties accounting for nearly 40% of the COVID-19 cases in the state in the last two weeks, health officials are calling on residents to join stepped-up local efforts to stop the spread of the virus.

The Department of Health on Monday reported 122 new cases of COVID-19, the highest daily number since the start of the pandemic, and the latest in a run of record-breaking case reports in the state. There have been 789 cases reported in the last two weeks in Vermont. Of those, 68 are in Orange County for an incidence rate of 23.5 per 10,000 people – twice the state incidence rate of 12.6. In Washington County there are 233 cases for an incidence rate of nearly 40 cases per 10,000 people – over three times the state rate.

Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD said the Scott Administration will be holding meetings with town and elected officials in the two counties to organize and mobilize efforts to reduce the number of new cases in their communities, including by promoting greater compliance with state health requirements and the Governor’s Executive Orders.

“Cases are up in every county in Vermont, but our recent data is highlighting the need to put extra effort into stemming the spread of the virus in these counties,” said Dr. Levine. “We are monitoring and investigating more than 50 active situations in Washington and Orange Counties, meaning additional follow-up is needed in addition to normal contact tracing, such as notification of a worksite, school, or healthcare facility, or coordination of testing in response to a large number of exposures. We need to do all we can to focus people’s efforts on prevention and containment.”

The rate of cases in all of Vermont’s counties has been increasing for the past several weeks. Essex County, with 14 active cases has the next highest incidence rate of nearly 23 per 10,000 people, or twice the state rate. While Chittenden County also has a high number of cases, 189, its relative incidence rate is much lower at 11.5 per 10,000.

Dr. Levine said that for these two counties – but throughout the state as well – the focus is on strengthening Vermonters’ commitment and ability to adapt behaviors to better protect themselves and preventing the spread of the virus.

“Each case leads to the virus spreading in the community which leads to outbreaks,” said Dr. Levine. “We can end this. We know what the solutions are:  limiting contacts and gatherings, following the travel and quarantine guidance, and getting tested when you’ve been to a social gathering, had symptoms of Covid-19, or had exposure to a person who is infected. We need everyone’s help to be successful.”

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