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‘No indication’ of Covid-19 spread in Manchester area, heath department says

Jul 19 2020, 7:37 PM

The Department of Health announced Sunday that more than half of the people who had been identified as part of a possible Covid-19 outbreak in Manchester have since tested negative in a follow-up test for the virus.

Sixty-three people in southwestern Vermont had come back positive when they were tested at a local doctor’s office with an antigen test, a new type of technology that delivers rapid results, according to a press release issued Sunday

The health department has subsequently tested 35 of those individuals with a polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test, which the state relies on to screen for active infection. So far, two people had positive results in follow-up testing. The other 33 tested negative.

The department said Sunday it has found “no indication of COVID-19 spreading in the community.”

The reports of the positive tests from the Manchester Medical Center sparked confusion last week as local and state officials gave seemingly contradicting reports. On Friday, Health Commissioner Mark Levine said the antigen results may have been false positives, prompting criticism from the facility’s medical director.

The Department of Health said that as of Saturday, all but seven people who had positive antigen tests had been contacted. Most, according to state officials, do not have symptoms and have not been linked to other possible cases.

“We have not yet found connections that would lead us to believe there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in Bennington or Windham counties,” Levine said.

Attempts to reach Manchester Medical Center on Sunday were unsuccessful.

— Elizabeth Hewitt