Please avoid Thanksgiving and holiday gatherings. We are seeing an alarming increase in the spread of COVID-19 cases throughout the country. Hospitals are quickly becoming overwhelmed with patients and face the distressing prospect of having to choose which patients they have the capacity to treat. As the experts have predicted, with the colder weather causing us to close up our houses and move indoors, the pandemic is approaching the most crucial and challenging period for our nation.

Although Rutland Regional Medical Center is well-prepared, we are concerned about this rapid rise of COVID-19 transmission throughout Vermont — including right here in Rutland County. This has caused Gov. Phil Scott to impose additional measures that include a prohibition on all public and private social gatherings with people who don’t live in the same household. This means we need to cancel our plans for in-home gatherings with relatives and friends for Thanksgiving and the winter holidays and through the balance of the year, including New Year’s Eve and Day.

I appreciate how disheartening and difficult this is for our community to accept, but we, at Rutland Regional, need your help now more than ever. If we all commit to avoiding social gatherings during the coming holiday season, we can stop the spread here in our community and avoid overwhelming our hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and keep our friends and family safe while awaiting the arrival of a vaccine early next year.

There is cause for optimism and hope with the news that two vaccines are highly effective and close to being approved! Rutland Regional is working with the state and federal governments on storage and distribution plans for our community. While this will take some time, I am confident we will begin to get back to normal in 2021. Our success in doing so will depend in large part on how well we are able to contain the spread of the virus during the next several months.

Because of all your good efforts this past year, Rutland County has been one of the safest places in the country. Please help us to continue to protect our patients, protect our staff and ensure Rutland Regional will have the capacity to care for our community, by avoiding in-person gatherings this Thanksgiving and throughout the 2020 holiday season.

Claudio Fort is Rutland Regional Medical Center president & CEO.

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