Just hours after Vermont issued its weekly travel advisory map, which lists which county residents must quarantine for 14 days before crossing into the state, the governor scrapped the system.
Due to the rising number of cases throughout the Northeast, Gov. Phil Scott announced late Tuesday that all visitors to Vermont — and all Vermonters who leave the state — must quarantine.
He urged everyone to simply not travel.
For those who choose to travel, Vermonters must quarantine upon their return. Out-of-staters must quarantine before crossing into Vermont.
There are limited exceptions, mainly for essential travel. However, Vermont also will allow people to cross the border for a “school-sponsored activity.” It was not immediately clear if that would allow high school ski clubs in New York to visit Vermont ski resorts, or allow Vermont students who attend school in Washington County to continue their after-school clubs and athletic teams.
As recently as earlier Tuesday, those after-school activities were not allowed under the previous system.
Now, Vermonters returning from an out-of-state trip must complete either a 14-day quarantine or a 7-day quarantine followed by a negative coronavirus test. The quarantine can be in the state in which the Vermonter is visiting if the Vermonter is traveling back by personal car. Otherwise, the quarantine begins when the Vermonter gets home.
Those who want to visit Vermont must quarantine at home for 14 days, or seven days followed by a negative test, if they are traveling by car. If they are traveling by public transportation, they must quarantine after arriving in Vermont. That means they cannot visit friends, shop or do other activities until their quarantine is over.
It is a shift from the system that was in place, but it essentially means that the restrictions on travel that were in place before are more permanent. There is no longer the possibility that a county’s caseload will fall to the point where free travel would be allowed.
But it was unlikely that free travel was going to happen soon under the previous system. At noon Tuesday, Vermont ranked Washington County in “red” because of the coronavirus outbreak at Washington Correctional Facility, the medium-security prison in Fort Ann.
While Warren and Saratoga counties have been in “red” or “yellow” for months, Washington County has normally been in “green,” allowing cross-state travel. The quarantine rules apply to all counties that are ranked red or yellow.
While there are no increased rules when a county is ranked “red,” it indicates that Vermont believes the coronavirus situation is much worse. It’s harder to get from red to green, according to Vermont’s formula. Washington County has twice gone from yellow to green in one week’s time, but it was far less likely to go from red to green.
Vermont will continue to update its map each week, for informational purposes.
Great Meadow, Washington correctional facilities
One inmate at Great Meadow Correctional Facility and one more inmate, for a total of 16, at Washington Correctional Facility, have tested positive for coronavirus, the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision said Tuesday.
DOCCS is in the process of testing every inmate, a change from the department’s previous policy of only testing inmates who had coronavirus symptoms. Nearly every inmate in Fort Ann has now been tested, with about 250 inmates left to test out of 1,353 inmates at Great Meadow. It was that routine testing that uncovered the cluster of cases at Washington Correctional Facility, where there are 679 inmates.
Most of the test results have not come back yet.
If the outbreak grows, the state may bring in rapid testing units for the correctional officers, DOCCS said. They are not quarantined unless they have close contact with a sick inmate, defined as within 6 feet for 10 minutes over a 24-hour period. They are wearing masks, and quarantine for 14 days if they end up in a close contact situation.
Visitors are still allowed at both facilities, but inmates who tested positive cannot receive visitors until they are well and have finished their quarantine period.
Warrensburg Elementary School case
A student at Warrensburg Elementary tested positive Monday, school officials said.
The student has not been in school since Oct. 30.
Warren County Health Services worked with school officials to determine quarantines for people who were exposed.
Hadley-Luzerne Elementary School case
Late Tuesday, Hadley-Luzerne reported that an individual at the elementary school had tested positive for coronavirus. The school is remaining open.
Unlike previous reports, school officials did not say when the person was last in school.
Three elementary school students and two staff at the school have tested positive since school opened. The school closed for in-person classes for a week in September in an effort to stop the chain of infection. A week later, the Junior-Senior High School also closed for a week to stop a series of infections.
- Warren County reported seven new cases, for a total of 427 confirmed cases since March, and six recoveries, for a total of 371 recoveries. Of the seven cases, three caught the virus from household members who were ill. Another caught the virus from a COVID-positive acquaintance (and then infected a household member), one appears to have caught the virus at a Halloween party at which people were not wearing masks and social distancing, and the seventh case was the Warrensburg student. Tracers are still working to determine where the student was infected. There are 21 people currently ill, and none are hospitalized.
- Washington County reported three new cases, all people who were in quarantine after contact with someone who had previously tested positive. That brings the county’s total to 356 confirmed cases since March, not counting any prison cases. One person recovered, for a total of 328 recoveries. There are 15 people currently ill and one is hospitalized.
- Saratoga County reported one new death, a Clifton Park man who was living independently. He was 67 years old. He is the 20th coronavirus death in the county.
- Saratoga County also reported nine new cases, for a total of 1,536 confirmed cases, and eight people recovered, for a total of 1,376 recoveries. A total of 140 people are currently sick, and 11 people are hospitalized, down from 14 Monday.
- In the northern Saratoga County towns, new cases include one Moreau resident (for a total of five). Still ill: four Northumberland residents, four Moreau residents, two town of Saratoga residents, two Schuylerville residents, two South Glens Falls residents and eight Wilton residents. Recovered: one village of Corinth resident.
- Essex County reported three new cases. There are 11 people currently ill, and no one is hospitalized.
- Glens Falls Hospital reported no coronavirus patients. Saratoga Hospital reported four coronavirus patients.
For Monday, the most recent date for which the following data was available:
- The Capital Region reported a total of 175 new cases, a positive test rate of 2.9%. To keep the virus under control, the goal is to keep the positive test rate under 1%. The only counties to manage that Monday were Warren County, at 0.5%, and Washington County, at 0.4%.
- Albany County was at 5.5% with 97 new cases; Schenectady County was at 4.8% with 25 new cases; Rensselaer County was at 2.9% with 17 new cases; Columbia County was at 2.5% with 13 new cases; Greene County was at 1.9% with five new cases; and Saratoga County was at 1% with 14 new cases.
- Statewide, 3,965 people tested positive Monday, an overall positivity rate of 3%. The hot spots had a positive test rate of 5.6% and the state without the hot spots had a positive test rate of 2.5%.
- There were 1,548 people hospitalized with coronavirus Monday and 32 people died.
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