On Thursday, the Vermont Department of Health reported another death attributed to COVID-19, the first in a little more than six weeks.

There have been 57 Vermonters who have died as result of COVID, according to the state.

The news was released along with a statement from Dr. Mark Levine, commissioner of the state’s health department.

“This is the first Vermont death in 43 days, and we at the health department express our deepest condolences to the patient’s loved ones, friends and family,” Levine said.

For privacy reasons, the state did not release any identifying information about the person or the circumstances of the death but people who may have been exposed to COVID by that person have already been contacted.

The Associated Press on Wednesday reported that according to the count kept by Johns Hopkins University, 150,000 people in the United States have died from COVID.

Vermont, however, has kept the death toll in the state to 56 for a month and a half.

Gov. Phil Scott, unlike some other Republican governors, had taken early action in an effort to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus and COVID. He shut down schools and restaurants, ordered retailers to stop the sale of nonessential items to keep people home and encouraged social distancing.

Last week, Scott announced a “mask mandate” that will take effect Saturday.

On Thursday, Scott posted to his Facebook page that he had just learned of the first COVID-associated death in Vermont since June 16.

“It is a sobering reminder that this virus is still among us, and it’s up to all of us to do our part to keep our friends, family and neighbors safe and healthy,” Scott wrote.

Vermont is continuing to see promising results from its efforts to prevent a widespread outbreak of COVID. On Thursday, the health department’s daily update on COVID said there have been about 1,400 patients identified with the respiratory disease out of almost 93,300 tests.

Only one person was hospitalized in the state for treatment, although 17 are being hospitalized while being tested for COVID, and only one new case of COVID has been identified since Wednesday.

Also, the Wednesday update announced one new case and there were three new cases on the Tuesday update.

Levine’s statement addressed the health department’s belief that the low number of transmission was the result of Vermonters cooperating even though all deaths can’t be prevented.

“We have been uniquely fortunate to have been spared such a loss for many weeks. And we are maintaining a relatively low rate of new positive cases. This has been made possible by the cooperation and sacrifices Vermonters have made to protect themselves and others from this coronavirus,” he said.

Levine asked Vermonters to continue with practices such as frequent hand-washing, social distancing and mask-wearing to prepare for the reality that “the virus is not going away anytime soon.”

patrick.mcardle@rutlandherald.com

patrick.mcardle@rutlandherald.com

patrick.mcardle@rutlandherald.com

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