The Second Wave

A “second wave” of COVID-19 has been a possibility for months but seemed a distant one, especially given Vermont’s best-in-the-nation response so far. Even as our infection numbers were small and stable, many people, including Department of Health Commissioner Mark Levine, said Vermont is not an island. Last week, that became all too evident. 
Cases here in our state are rising exponentially. We must all act immediately to slow the spread and flatten the curve. What were once a handful of cases are now outbreaks that affect schools, businesses and, of course, hospitals. The first few new cases acted like sparks, and subsequent outbreaks became brush fires. Coupled with Halloween parties and other social gatherings over the past few weeks, we now have a COVID-19 forest fire in Vermont.
I know this is dramatic language, but the situation is serious and requires a dramatic response. The Governor and our state health leaders are carefully and thoughtfully restricting activities that have generated spikes. They are also rightly focused on striking a balance between needed safety measures and keeping our economy, schools and child care centers open. 
Safety measures and mitigation steps like those Gov. Scott announced last week intend to prevent new infections and slow the overall spread so that our hospitals and health care system are not overwhelmed.
The next days and weeks are critical. With holidays approaching, safety during the pandemic means re-thinking traditions. Our hospitals are better prepared than earlier this year, but they still need our help. That means:
  • Connecting virtually instead of in person whenever possible 
  • Understanding and following the new restrictions, which can be found here
  • Replacing in-person holiday celebrations with virtual gatherings
  • Advising family and friends to heed the guidelines because none of us are “exceptions”
Hospitals too are taking difficult but important steps like limiting visitors to keep staff and patients safe. 
On a personal note, I know this is hard. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and I would love to spend it with my Mom as usual. This year, that just is not possible, so we will share a meal on Zoom and not risk transmitting COVID. It will be different but also safer and kinder. Sharing love with our family members means protecting them from the virus.
Thank you for your sacrifice and support. By working together and prioritizing public health, we got through this once—and we will do so again.
Jeff Tieman
VAHHS President and CEO