Virus outbreak linked to hockey rink grows to 30 cases

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The outbreak of people infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 traced to a Montpelier hockey rink has expanded to 30, the Vermont Health Department said Monday.

The cases are linked to adult and youth hockey leagues and an adult broomball league at the Central Vermont Memorial Civic Center.

The Health Department is planning a pop-up testing clinic Thursday at the Barre Auditorium. Testing is for people who are not showing any symptoms of COVID-19, but had direct links to the teams and their close contacts.

The Central Vermont Medical Center will also be holding special testing clinics from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. from Tuesday through Friday at its Acute Respiratory Clinic on the Barre-Montpelier Road.

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INMATES TESTED

The Vermont Department of Corrections say the third round of testing of more than 2,000 inmates and staff at the state's prisons found no positive cases.

The tests included the six state-run facilities and the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in Tutwiler, Mississippi, which is holding just over 200 Vermont inmates.

The state began its fourth round of testing on Monday at the Northwest State Correctional Facility in St. Albans.

“I’m deeply appreciative of the effort and hard work of Vermont DOC staff in keeping our facilities clean,” Vermont Corrections Commissioner Jim Baker said in a statement. “This is not a time to let our guard down. Our approach of ‘testing to suppress’ is saving lives."

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SCHOOL CLEANED

Officials in Vermont say the Oxbow High School in Bradford was closed for the weekend for deep cleaning after a staff member tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.

“In working with the Vermont Department of Health, we have determined that no students at Oxbow are considered to be close contacts who require testing or quarantine to limit spread,” Superintendent Emilie Knisley said in a social media post. “This is excellent news for our students.”

The Valley News reports contact tracing is underway and the case is believed to be isolated to the 8th grade.

There was no impact on River Bend Career and Technical Center or shared bus routes, Knisley said.

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OUTDOOR RESCUES

Vermont outdoor search and rescue teams are seeing more calls for services, and experts are attributing the increase to more people getting outdoors during pandemic, officials said.

“The numbers for missions are up this year,” said Vermont Search and Rescue Coordinator Neil Van Dyke, who is with the Vermont Department of Public Safety.

And the increase in calls means the rescue personnel are having to do more to protect themselves from becoming infected with the coronavirus. In addition to using personal protective equipment, search and rescue teams have had to do additional sanitizing, cleaning, and, when possible, maintain social distance.

“Yes, there is extra time involved, but our mission is still to help someone in need," Van Dyke told WCAX-TV. "All of the search and rescue teams in Vermont have had to adopt some policies and procedures for dealing with emergencies and then undergo some training to make sure they are following those policies.”

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NUMBERS

On Monday, the Vermont Health Department reported nine new cases of the virus, bringing the statewide total to just under 1,950.

Of the new cases, three were in Chittenden County, two in Orange and Washington counties, and one each in Orleans and Windsor counties.

There are currently no patients hospitalized in Vermont who have COVID-19 or are suspected of having it.

The number of deaths in the state remains at 58, where it has been for more than two months.