MONTPELIER — State officials say six more people have tested positive in an outbreak of the novel coronavirus connected to Central Vermont Memorial Civic Center in Montpelier.
Gov. Phil Scott has also signed an executive order telling all indoor ice rinks in the state they cannot accept new reservations for the next two weeks in response to New Hampshire shutting down rinks as consequence of the virus’ spread.
At the governor’s regular Friday news conference, Dr. Patsy Kelso, state epidemiologist, said there have been 18 confirmed cases of the virus so far. The outbreak is related to youth and adult hockey leagues, as well as broomball teams, that played at the rink. Kelso said the 18 confirmed cases are all players or close contacts of those players. Twelve of the cases were reported at Tuesday’s news conference.
She said the state Department of Health’s contact tracing team continues to reach out to those who might be affected.
The epidemiologist said there will be a pop-up testing site Saturday at the Barre City Auditorium from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“And we’re recommending that anyone with direct links to a team, their close contacts and people associated with the civic center be tested. Testing is not recommended for the broader Montpelier community in response to this situation,” she said.
Kelso said so far it does not appear the outbreak has spread into the community.
The governor didn’t give any specifics, but he said state officials are considering a number of steps to strengthen guidance around off-the-ice activities and interstate play. State officials believe the virus may have spread during activities such as car pooling or team gatherings, but not during actual play. The governor later announced the outbreak might be connected to outbreaks in New Hampshire.
The governor released a statement Friday saying all indoor ice rinks in Vermont are prohibited from accepting new reservations until Halloween. This is in response to neighboring New Hampshire’s decision to close rinks there after six outbreaks associated with hockey, according to published reports.
Rinks can still operate with their current schedule, according to the release.
Also, two people have tested positive for the virus at a pod at Union Elementary School in Montpelier. Officials have not said whether the two are teachers or students, but the cases are not believed to be connected to the outbreak at the hockey rink. Kelso said the first person with the virus gave it to the second, marking the first time there had been in-school transmission of the virus since schools reopened last month.
She said officials are conducting contact tracing at the school, as well.
“The fact that this was the state’s first in-school transmission doesn’t mean an escalation of the virus. It means that someone that is infectious transmitted it to someone,” she said.