MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) – The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, congratulated Vermonters for their success in slowing the spread of the coronavirus.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases and also a member of President Trump’s White House Coronavirus Task Force, joined Vermont officials via Zoom to talk about Vermont’s response. He said Vermont should be the model for the rest of the country and congratulated the governor and the administration, saying he’d like to bottle what’s happening here and take it with him.
Fauci also cautioned against complacency, even in rural areas like the Northeast Kingdom, with very low virus growth. “Please, you’ve done so well, don’t let your guard down,” Fauci said. He says he doesn’t think it’s inevitable that Vermont will see a second wave of COVID if residents stay the course, but reminded people that the virus is a “formidable foe” and will return if given the chance.
He said the pushback from a nationwide mask mandate in some parts of the country would make it counterproductive to put in place as well as difficult to enforce.
He says he expects a safe vaccine in November or December and that it should be available early next year. He gave an update on the process. He said there are multiple layers of checkpoints for safety and efficacy. He said he trusts the FDA will do what the science tells them to do and that when a vaccine gets approved he would not hesitate to get it or have his entire family get it.
He largely avoided a question about whether lives would have been saved if the president hadn’t purposely downplayed the seriousness of the virus in recordings just released by reporter Bob Woodward. He said it’s important to look forward and not back.
RETURN TO SCHOOL
Vermont Education Secretary Dan French said schools where positive cases were found this week — Hartford and Duxbury — handled it well and he expects a return to “normal” operations soon.
Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said his team was ready and worked quickly to find anyone who may need to quarantine. He says there are fewer than six cases at Crossett Brook and Hartford High School.
Levine said they have still not found a link to a small bump in COVID cases in Orleans County last week and that no more cases have turned up there.
Area colleges continue to report success in their testing protocols and Levine says officials are upbeat about how the screenings are going.
As of Monday, Vermont health officials have reported a total of 1,696 coronavirus cases in the state and 58 deaths. A total of 151,478 tests have been conducted, 522 travelers are being monitored, 8,287 have completed monitoring and 1,509 have recovered.
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