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Scott says Vt. curve is flattening; Dartmouth warns students about conduct 

  • Two shoppers wearing protective masks, due to the virus outbreak, walk to their vehicle during a heavy rain storm after shopping at the Walmart store in Epping, N.H., Monday, April 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) ap — Charles Krupa

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 4/13/2020 4:39:45 PM
Modified: 4/13/2020 8:48:59 PM

Here is the COVID-19 news for Monday in the Upper Valley:

Vt. sees curve flattening 

Gov. Phil Scott said on Monday that Vermont appears to have seen a leveling off of new cases of the novel coronavirus, an indication that the “stay home” orders he issued three weeks ago have been working.

“I can’t say this enough. Your sacrifices are making a difference,” Scott said in a news conference on Monday.

State officials on Monday said Vermont logged another 21 cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 748. Thirty-three people are hospitalized with the virus, and another 33 are hospitalized and under observation. There also was one additional death from COVID-19, bringing the Vermont total to 28.

“While we have seen a flattening of the curve, we still don’t know if we have reached the peak,” said Scott.

“The number of new additional cases per day is getting smaller, and it is leveling off,” added Health Commissioner Mark Levine. “We seem to be approaching, if you will, a plateau. We’ll see if it’s a sustained phenomenon or just a trend over several days.”

Levine noted that Vermont had not seen “major outbreaks” in the general population, but acknowledged that they had taken place in some nursing homes and a prison.

Levine said he went into two stores over the weekend and was concerned to see some people not wearing masks, saying they could be putting others at “extreme risk” in not doing so, especially if they are carrying the virus but are asymptomatic.

“Again, I strongly urge the use of face coverings,” he said.

Dartmouth tells students to abide by college code of conduct

Dartmouth Dean of the College Kathryn Lively wrote a sharply-worded email to undergraduates Monday, saying a “relative few” students have held unauthorized parties in fraternities, congregated in groups both on campus and around Hanover, gone into dorms without permission, “berated and yelled” at hourly employees in Dartmouth who were trying to do their jobs, and failed in other ways to comply with safe social distancing practices.

Town officials have already worried about the presence of students in off-campus apartments, though they are legally allowed to live there even as Dartmouth is doing online classes through the spring semester.

Lively’s email said students who fail to abide by Dartmouth’s Standards of Conduct — which includes not interfering with the “College's responsibility to protect the health and safety of its members or visitors” — risk being expelled or having their organization derecognized by the college.

“As individuals, you are accountable for your choices and their consequences. And, as members of student organizations, your behavior may have consequences for your organization,” she wrote. “In the context of the pandemic and public health crisis, you should expect that both individual and organizational disciplinary consequences will be swift and severe as circumstances warrant.”

Vt. Health Dept. offers guidance

State health officials are offering health and safety guidance for grocery and hardware stores, pharmacies and other businesses deemed essential.

They include having workers wear cloth face coverings; regularly sanitizing shopping carts, door handles, credit card machines and other high-touch areas; installing a plastic shield between customers and staff; and moving workspaces to be at least 6 feet apart.

The suggestions also include offering dedicated shopping hours for higher-risk populations; removing self-serve stations such as salad bars; taking phone orders and limiting the number of customers in the store; and making sure hand-washing stations or hand sanitizers are readily available.

Vt. Labor Dept. to alphabetize calls

The Vermont Department of Labor had a system outage on Sunday that caused a lot of claimants to get a message saying that their Social Security number was not found, Commissioner Michael Harrington said.

“My understanding is everything should be functional now,” he said on Monday. “People can still file their claims online and over the phone for the rest of the week.”

A new alphabetized intake system has been implemented in response to the rising number of unemployment claims and inquiries. To reduce the volume of calls and online claims, the system designates certain days of the week for people to contact the department based on the first letter of their last name.

The department is encouraging Vermonters to file by phone at 800-983-2300 Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

For filing online or calling the claimant assistance line, the alphabetized system has designated Mondays for last names beginning with A through E, Tuesdays F through L, Wednesdays M through R, and Thursdays S through Z.

Testing for antibodies

Copley Hospital in Morrisville, Vt., has started testing its health-care workers to see if they have developed COVID-19 antibodies, according to VtDigger.

The blood-based test could help determine who is now immune to the new coronavirus, enabling them to return to work.

Levine, the Vermont Health Department commissioner, has appointed a working group of experts to recommend by late Thursday how the state should move forward with so-called serology testing that could show whether someone has the virus or has antibodies indicating they’ve recovered.

“We will do this work in Vermont but in a scientifically and public health-informed, deliberate, strategic and evidence-based manner,” he said on Monday.

Levine said he wants to make sure the testing, which has yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, is sufficiently accurate and said it is likely to become a “critical part” of Vermont’s future strategy is dealing with the outbreak.

Co-op workers to wear masks

Employees of the Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society will be required to wear masks starting on Wednesday. 

“This applies to employees at all Co-op locations, including those working in administrative offices. This policy follows recommendations from the CDC and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union,” the Co-op said on its website.

The New Hampshire Grocers Association on Monday recommended that shoppers only go into a grocery store when it is essential, wear cloth face coverings, shop alone, practice social distancing, stay home if they don’t feel well and only handle produce and other items if they intend to buy them.

VNH update

The Visiting Nurse and Hospice for VT and NH is concerned about a false rumor circulating that it does not accept COVID-19 patients. In fact, the agency is taking COVID-19 patients into its program.

“We are fully operational and accepting all patients. We are committed to serving all patients regardless of their care needs. As hospitals prepare to meet patients’ needs in the acute care setting, we will continue to be here to provide support to all patients that need home-based care. We are taking all precautions outlined by the CDC to protect patients and staff without sacrificing patient care needs,” Danielle DeVost, a Visiting Nurse spokeswoman, said in an email.

VA is hiring

The Veterans Affairs New England Healthcare System is hiring clinical staff, including physicians, physician assistants, registered nurses and licensed practical nurses, nursing assistants, pharmacy techs, health aides, housekeeping assistants, cooks and laborers.

The hiring “will help bolster the facility’s medical staff during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the VA said in a news release.

For a complete listing of opportunities, which includes the VA Medical Center in White River Junction, go to

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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