COVID-19 Update
To help with the mitigation of the spread of COVID-19, federal and state governments have passed a host of measures that waive certain standard regulations and guidelines that could make it harder for hospitals and other health care providers to fight the virus.

Read a summary here .

In the News
Coronavirus relief bill slows in U.S. Senate, talks continue

The U.S. Senate’s drive to pass a $1-trillion-plus coronavirus response bill remained stymied late on Sunday, as Democrats held out for more money to help state and local governments and hospitals, while Republicans urged quick action to give financial markets a sign of encouragement.

Earlier on Sunday, the Senate failed to get the necessary 60 votes in the 100-member chamber to get the Republican plan over a procedural hurdle after days of negotiations, with 47 senators voting in favor and 47 opposed.

COVID-19 Roundup: Hospitals grapple with unknowns; Vermonters seek tests; Volunteers sew masks

Vermont hospitals are grappling with many unknowns: the number of people who could be infected, the demand for intensive care and ventilators, how many providers could be needed, and whether supplies will hold out.  See VTDigger’s story

The state has had no choice but to ration tests because of a nationwide shortage. VTDigger spoke with half a dozen people with symptoms similar to the coronavirus who were self-isolating but have not been able to get a test.  See VTDigger’s story
Bracing for Coronavirus Spread, Vermont Frees Up
Hospital Beds
Seven Days

Vermont officials said on Friday that the state has "significantly" increased its number of available hospital beds and ventilators in recent days to prepare for the continued spread of coronavirus. 

Whether it will be enough to withstand a widespread outbreak remains unclear, however, with officials on Friday saying that they are still working to predict how many beds and ventilators might be needed in the weeks to come. 

Michael Pieciak, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation, said at a press conference Friday morning that the state is consulting with experts to examine "best-case and worst-case scenarios." 
Hospital: 1st Vermont COVID-19 patient improving

The first Vermont patient with a confirmed case of COVID-19 has improved to stable.

In a statement issued by the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington, Chief Nursing Officer Pamela Duchene calls the patient's condition an improvement.

The Bennington hospital is now treating three cases of COVID-19. The hospital is also offering drive-up testing for the disease caused by the coronavirus. Duchene says the hospital has been conducting about 20 tests a day.

Governor orders childcare centers closed, except for key personnel
Vermont Business Magazine

Governor Phil Scott issued Tuesday a directive and announced additional guidance for preK-12 schools and childcare centers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The governor directed childcare centers across the state to close normal operations but encouraged them to continue operationg exclusively where needed to provide childcare services for workers who are essential to Vermont’s ongoing effort in community mitigation of COVID-19. 

To support those most critical to Vermont’s ongoing COVID-19 response, the Governor has ordered schools to provide childcare for “essential persons” working in response to the crisis. District by district information will be available as those local plans are finalized.

“Teachers, childcare providers and school support staff are going to be as critical to our response as our doctors, nurses and healthcare support staff,” said Governor Phil Scott. “That’s why, even as we ask the public to step back to help slow the spread of this virus, we are asking others, including our educators and child care providers, to step in and provide a critical service so those who are on the frontlines of our response can continue to care for the sick, protect the public and manage this evolving challenge. I am incredibly proud of the selflessness of these public servants at this time of need.”

Brumsted: What we all can do
Vermont Business Magazine

For nearly two months, teams across the UVM Health Network have been planning for our clinical and operational response to what is now designated as a pandemic by the World Health Organization and declared a State of Emergency in both Vermont and New York.

It is essential that all of us now move with an abundance of caution and take important measures to slow and ultimately stop the spread of COVID-19. From across the globe, and now in the United States, we are seeing examples of how important it is to act responsibly and swiftly, and we must, too.

As we focus on the health and safety of our patients, our staff, and our community – and as we learn more about COVID-19 – I want to share ways we are changing our policies and practices across the health system and also will share some helpful information you can use to keep you and your loved ones as safe and healthy as possible during these challenging times.

We need to do everything possible to keep our health care providers and staff safe and healthy so we can be here for our community and do the best we can for our patients and families. We are following guidelines from the CDC and the health departments in Vermont and New York and building upon our own best practices to slow the spread of COVID-19.