Coronavirus testing ramps up to include Vermonters with mild and moderate symptoms


Increased numbers of Vermonters with mild or moderate symptoms of COVID-19 are being tested for the disease as the result of a more aggressive policy announced last week by Health Commissioner Mark Levine.

A total of 3,930 residents have been tested as of 1 p.m. Monday — a 74% jump from Friday’s test-count of 2,261 reported by the Health Department.

Positive test results edged up 39% (from 184 to 256) during the same time period, the department reported.

Earlier and more widespread testing has become part of the state’s “full-court press” to slow the pandemic, Levine said Friday in a news conference: Tracking even mild cases has helped other countries contain the spread of COVID-19.

Vermont’s recent boost in its supply of test kits — thanks to unnamed “people in high places” —  enabled the expansion of service, Levine added.

“While this risks drawing down our supplies more quickly, the timing is right to expand testing in the short term,” he wrote in a memo Friday to healthcare workers.

Before Levine’s announcement, testing had been a priority only for healthcare workers, hospitalized patients and vulnerable populations, such as the elderly.

Any Vermonter experiencing what might be symptoms of COVID-19 — including a fever, dry cough and shortness of breath — should phone a local healthcare provider to arrange for a test, Levine said.

Unless a resident is in a life-threatening situation (severe symptoms of COVID-19 include pneumonia, which can be fatal), residents should not visit a testing site or hospital without first securing permission from a health professional, according to the department’s website.

Arrangements for a test cannot be made through the Health Department, it adds — nor via phone calls to the 2-1-1 hotline.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers an online “self-checker” to help people determine if they are experiencing symptoms of the disease.

Contact Joel Banner Baird at 802-660-1843 or Follow him on Twitter @VTgoingUp.

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