Testing, Essex Junction, 3-18-2020

A member of the University of Vermont Medical Center’s Critical Care Transport team demonstrates testing for COVID-19 at a drive-up testing site in Essex Junction.

ST. ALBANS – As COVID-19’s spread in Vermont appears to remain at a crawl, so too does its spread through Franklin County, where Vermont’s health department has reported only a handful of additional cases in the past month.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the health department has confirmed 111 cases of COVID-19 in Franklin County, meaning only nine additional cases have been reported in the Northwest Vermont county since the Messenger reported there being 102 cases in Franklin County on June 16.

Every town in Franklin County but Berkshire, Fletcher and Sheldon have had at least one case of COVID-19 reported since the disease was first observed in Vermont in March. Almost half of the county’s cases continue to be attributed to an April outbreak at the Northwest State Correctional Facility (NWSCF).

All five towns constituting neighboring Grand Isle County have now had at least one known case of COVID-19 reported since March. Thirteen cases in total have been reported in Grand Isle County, according to Vermont’s health department.

Due to Grand Isle County’s small size, however, the 13 cases reported by the health department Wednesday mean Grand Isle County is seeing a ratio of 18.3 known cases per 10,000 people in the county, a rate comparable to the 22.5 cases per 10,000 people seen in neighboring Franklin County.

Aside from the early April outbreak among NWSCF’s prison population, no additional cases have been reported in St. Albans Town, which continues to be shown as having only 45 cases reported as of the health department’s most recent town-level reporting from July 16.

At least one more case had been identified in the prison since mid-June, however, after an inmate who was brought into the facility in late June tested positive. According to the Agency of Human Services, the inmate had been quarantined during their entire time at NWSCF before testing positive for COVID-19.

There have been no deaths attributed to cases of COVID-19 within the St. Albans prison. Most of those infected in the prison had been asymptomatic and quarantined at a facility in St. Johnsbury before returning to the St. Albans prison upon two negative tests for COVID-19.

Twenty-four cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in St. Albans City since the first case of COVID-19 was identified in Vermont in March, meaning an additional four cases have been reported in Franklin County’s only city since the middle of June.

Only two other towns in Franklin County continue to have enough confirmed cases of COVID-19 to meet the health department’s six-case threshold for reporting specific caseloads, with eight cases having been identified in both Enosburgh and Swanton.

In places with fewer than five known cases of COVID-19, the state has only reported there being a presence of the disease.

Health officials have hesitated to provide exact numbers of cases in those communities out of fear that the information could be used to more easily identify those who had the disease, potentially running afoul of both Vermont and federal patient privacy laws.

Eight cases had already been identified in Swanton in June, but the latest update from the health department shows two more cases of COVID-19 having been identified in Enosburgh since the Messenger last reported there having been six cases in the Franklin County town in June.

As of July 16, Vermont’s health department has also confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Georgia and Montgomery, neither of which had reported cases of the disease since the Messenger last reported on the health department’s town-level data.

As of Wednesday, six deaths have been attributed to complications from COVID-19 in Franklin County since March and no deaths have been attributed to the disease in Grand Isle County.

Vermont has reported no additional deaths due to COVID-19 in at least a month.

Statewide, Vermont’s health department continues to report only a handful of additional cases every day, with state officials recently declaring that COVID-19’s spread within Vermont continues to occur at a pace well below the state’s “guardrails” for gauging its continued economic reopening.

More than 1,300 cases have been identified in Vermont since March, with more than half of those cases found in Chittenden County alone. As of Wednesday, 695 cases had been confirmed in Chittenden County, Vermont’s most populated county and the center of the state’s only metropolitan area.

Fifty-six have died in Vermont due to complications of COVID-19, according to the health department.

More than 1,100, however, have recovered from the disease.

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