Vermont still has some of the lowest coronavirus infection rates in the country and officials are hoping to be able to keep it that way even though many nearby states and counties are seeing their numbers increase.
Officials said during a briefing Tuesday that travel appeared to be one of the main routes of transmission of the virus and many people were visiting Vermont during the fall foliage season.
Gov. Phil Scott said he was hopeful that the end of fall, traditionally one of the most important times of the year for Vermont’s tourism industry, would mean fewer people would be visiting the state from areas with high rates of infection, but there is only so much the state can do.
“We can’t shut down our borders,” Scott said. “We can’t check papers as they come across the border. So we have to rely on some sort of honor system.”
The travel map the state developed that allows people to visit Vermont without quarantining is continuing to shrink. There is no enforcement mechanism attached to the system that as of Tuesday allows just under 1.9 million people from counties across the Northeast with low viral rates are eligible to visit Vermont without quarantining.
That figure is down about 1 million in the last week. When the system was first developed in July, about 11.5 million people were eligible to visit Vermont.
Scott said he’s hoping “we’ll be able to get back to some to some sort of normalcy, that we’ll be able to welcome people in to ski.
But “it will look much different,” he said.
Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said 12 cases of the virus have been traced to both adult and youth hockey players at the Central Vermont Civic Center in Montpelier.
He said contact tracing is underway, but the exact mode of transmission is not yet clear, whether it is due to playing or practicing hockey or to activities incidental to the sport, such as car-pooling to practices or team gatherings.
“Team rosters are being collected and a timeline is being developed that will guide further actions,” Levine said.
On Tuesday, the Vermont Health Department reported 11 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19, bringing the statewide total since the pandemic began to just under 1,890.
Of the new cases, three were in Chittenden and Washington counties, two in Bennington County and one each in Windham, Orange and Orleans counties.
The number of deaths remains at 58, a figure that has not changed in more than two months.
While Vermont’s numbers remain low, over the last two weeks there have been a total of 130 new cases, the highest two-week total since early June.
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