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Vt. COVID resurgence targets familiar victims

Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 6:38 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 19, 2020 at 7:20 PM EST
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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - The recent deaths at Rutland Health and Rehab are a reminder of how vulnerable the elderly are to the coronavirus and why health officials say reducing the spread of the virus is so important for all of us.

With the increase in cases, advocates for the elderly say it’s extremely important for all community members to stay vigilant, even if you don’t personally come into contact with older residents. “Think about our older Vermonters who are the most vulnerable,” said Chris Adams with the Southwestern Vermont Council of Aging, a group that gives support to older Vermonters to help them be independent. “From what we’ve seen, older Vermonters by and large have done a tremendous job really locking down and being diligent and protecting themselves.”

Nonetheless, over 90,000 Americans living in long-term care have died from COVID. In Vermont, 34 deaths are associated with long-term care facilities -- that’s more than half of all COVID deaths in the state. That population and other older Vermonters are more vulnerable when the virus is spreading in the community.

“You would never want to be the cause for your grandmother or grandfather or loved one who is older -- to be stuck with COVID and potentially a life-threatening virus,” said April Cioffi with the Godnick Adult Center, a Rutland senior center.

She says they have canceled all in-person exercise and wellness programs. For some aging Vermonters, this location is their only source of socialization and a place to get out and be healthy. “Be cognizant about not spending time with people that aren’t in our household and if you really want to care for a loved one, give them a phone call, check-in with them, have a conversation with them. See what their day is like and talk about some happy memories,” advised Cioffi.

Asymptomatic people can unknowingly pass the virus on to someone who may be in close contact with the elderly, so advocates say it is important for everyone to continue wearing masks, wash your hands, and only associate with those in your household. “Vermonters are known for being good neighbors and taking care of each other and there’s no better example than now -- when everybody really needs to do what’s best,” Adams said.

The state this week released strict new guidance for visitors to long-term care facilities.

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