By MIKE DONOGHUE
Islander Staff Reporter
MONTPELIER -- The projected peak of COVID-19 cases in Vermont is expected to hit between mid-to-late April and early May based on current study models, state officials said at a news conference Thursday.
The projection is not cast in concrete and could change, but it is the best estimate based on current conditions.
Officials emphasized the sacrifices Vermonters are making now by staying at home are working. They said the upcoming weeks will be critical to saving lives.
Gov. Phil Scott also announced today additional medical surge locations, including one at the Champlain Valley Exposition in Essex, are being prepared in conjunction with the Vermont National Guard.
The new sites are designed to prepare for an expected surge of COVID-19 patients and the need for additional hospital and medical capacity.
The surge site at the Essex fairgrounds will provide 400 beds staffed primarily by National Guard personnel. The COVID-19 patients will continue to be treated at the hospitals. The patients at the new sites will be for other medical issues so the hospital can focus on COVID-19.
A second surge site in Rutland County with 150 beds will be supported by the Rutland Regional Medical Center.
The announcement Thursday came as Vermont saw the number of positive tests rise to 338 – an increase of 17 from the day before.
There was now 17 deaths, which is up one from Wednesday and 5 up since Monday.
Vermont has conducted 4,711 tests, an increase in one day from 4,495, the state said.
The number of people being monitored dropped slightly from 153 to 127.
There are still no reported cases in Grand Isle and Essex Counties, but both had their second day of tests available at the local health center. Four more people were tested at the Champlain Islands Health Center in South Hero. Seven had tests on Wednesday afternoon, the first day of testing in Grand Isle County.
Gov. Scott continues to ask Vermonters to stay home as much as possible to keep everyone safe during this pandemic.
Only essential personnel is given an exception. Those include workers at grocery stories, hardware stores, news media, restaurants that are offering takeout or delivery only.
Vermonters should leave home only for essentials, such as food. They are asked to keep at least 6 feet away from other persons