By MICHAEL DONOGHUE
Islander Staff Reporter
ST. ALBANS -- The Northwestern Medical Center in St. Albans reported late Friday afternoon that one of its employees had tested positive for COVID-19.
The Islander had reported the St. Albans hospital had two positive tests among patients last Saturday morning.
“With the presence of COVID-19 in our community, we have understood that it was inevitable that employees from among our team of nearly 900 people would eventually test positive for the virus,” Dr. John Minadeo, Chief Medical Quality Officer said.
The positive test came as Vermont Health Commissioner Mark Levine announced during the Friday news conference that 10 people testing positive for COVID-19 have died in Vermont.
Seven of the deaths are patients from the Burlington Health and Rehabilitation on Pearl Street. One of them died in a hospital setting, Dr. Levine said
The number of positive tests hit 184 as of Friday, compared to 95 positives on Tuesday, the Vermont Health Department said.
Grand Isle County – along with Essex County – still has no reported cases.
The number of conducted tests hit 2,261 as of Friday compared to 1,535 on Tuesday.
The St. Albans hospital knew its staff would be impacted after he two patients were infected.
The hospital said it would not provide additional information about the infected person, including whether it was a man or woman, a doctor or nurse or some other profession. The hospital also failed to provide an age range.
The Medical Center made the announcement on its website. NMC officials did not respond to phone messages on Friday seeking more information.
The state was more forthcoming during a more than one-hour news conference featuring Gov. Phil Scott, Commissioner Levine and other key commissioners.
The news conference was used by Gov. Scott to further outline his announcement from late Thursday afternoon ordering the closing of schools and ending in-person learning for the academic year.
“I know this news is incredibly difficult, it’s disappointing, it’s just plain sad” Scott told reporters, many calling into the Montpelier press conference.
The school closing order came two days after Scott’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order asking Vermonters to stay at home. Scott’s Executive Order, effective on allows for certain essential Vermont services, including grocery stores, banks, hardware stores and the news media to continue to deliver assistance for Vermonters.
Scott and U.S. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt. are among those that have been urging Vermonters to stay home. Leahy took the additional step of asking out-of-staters to stay out of Vermont while the state tries to resolve the epidemic.
Under questioning, Scott urged thousands of college and high school students sent home without all the property from their dorm rooms to hold off on returning to retrieve items. Many of them are from out-of-state – including hot spots like New York State.
“They should ask themselves, Do I want it or do I need it?,” Scott responded.
“If you just want it, stay right where you are until we get further down this path. If you need it….I’m sure the school could ship it to you. What’s the best action for your personal safety and others?”
Gov. Scott also told reporters that it is up to the state legislature to delay the start of a July 1 ban on single-use plastic grocery bags. Scott said believed he did not have authority to order a delay.
Some Vermont stores are refusing baggers to handle reusable grocery bags.