Health Care

Vermont says Covid-19 cases will likely remain within health system capacity

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The latest update to the state’s model of Covid-19 cases shows that the rate of new cases — an important metric to determine the extent of the virus’ spread — continues to decline.

At a press conference Friday, Michael Pieciak, commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulation, said the slowdown indicates Vermont is unlikely to run out of important health care needs like hospital beds, intensive care beds and ventilators.

“The glimmer of hope from last week shines a little brighter,” he said.

While the case rate could mean a “milder experience” in the coming weeks, Pieciak warned that the future is not guaranteed. He said the slowdown was the result of Gov. Phil Scott’s decision to issue a stay-at-home order and other social distancing measures. 

The state still predicts a peak in cases in two to four weeks, he said, with an estimated 1,000 to 5,000 Vermonters being diagnosed with the virus by the end of May. Vermont is expected to experience less than 100 deaths during this wave of the virus. 

According to the state’s analysis of cases, the percent of newly confirmed Covid-19 cases compared to all cases has gone from 15% last week to 9% this week, Pieciak said. 

Researchers have used that metric to determine how fast Covid-19 is spreading in the community. Pieciak said the doubling rate — the amount of time it took for the number of cases to double — is also declining.

At last week’s press conference, Pieciak said the state was doing a good job of testing Vermonters for Covid-19 compared to other states. He did not provide data on Covid-19 testing for the latest model.

Vermont is currently fourth in the nation in tests conducted per capita, according to The Covid Tracking Project, an organization that tracks different state data.

The model also presented updated data on how predicted cases compare to the capacity of the health care system. The models did not predict a potential overload in hospital beds, ventilators or personal protective equipment.

It did, however, project a shortage of adult ICU beds for Covid-19 patients under a worst-case scenario, a trajectory Pieciak said last week that he does not believe the state is on.

As of April 10, the state had 679 confirmed Covid-19 cases, an increase of 51 over the previous day, and 24 deaths, an increase of one. Thirty-two Vermonters were hospitalized with the disease as of Friday and another 43 were hospitalized with symptoms of Covid-19 but did not have a confirmed diagnosis.

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