This is the message that I shared during today’s selectboard meeting.
As of yesterday, there are 158 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Vermont, 5 of those here in Lamoille County. This is not a surprise. This is exactly what we have been expecting. In fact, we are prepared for many more cases than we are seeing today. Health Care Systems and first responders all over the state are prepared to handle much, much worse. Your own EMS, Fire and Police Departments have the necessary protective equipment that we need to do our job today and in the near future. We can always use more, if you or anyone you know, has N95 masks or surgical gowns, please encourage them to contact me. All of us have been in constant communication with the Vermont Department of Health, Copley Hospital, Vermont Emergency Management and our colleagues across the country. I want to stress that your public safety team is prepared. As always, we are ready to respond to all emergencies.
We continue to follow the guidance of the CDC and the Department of Health and encourage you to do the same. It is imperative that we all share and promote the same message. This will reduce confusion and allow the message to reach further throughout the community. Here are a few take aways from the current guidance:
• If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever, cough and shortness of breath, CALL you health care provider. If you don’t have one, you can call Stowe Family Practice, they will help you. DO NOT show up at the hospital or practice without calling first.
• Testing is currently limited and is prioritized for health care workers, hospitalized patients and vulnerable populations.
• Not everyone needs testing. Do not call the health department. Again, do not go to the hospital, except in a life-threatening emergency.
• If you do need to go grocery shopping, please practice social distancing. Do not be afraid to kindly ask others to do the same. It is definitely awkward, it is not rude.
The most important component in all of this though, is you, members of the community, worker and visitors. Our efforts to flatten the curve, per say, will only be successful if we ALL do our part. On March 24, Governor Scott issued a stay home/stay safe order. This order closed all non-essential business with a few exceptions. The important message from this order though, is to STAY HOME. This is all in an effort to limit your movement, reducing the chance to spread the virus, keeping your neighbors, yourself and your family safer. This is very simple, stay home unless you have to purchase groceries or pick up medicine. Other than that, there really aren’t any other reason to leave your property. Recreation is encouraged, ONLY if you can do so while maintaining a responsible social distance. If we as a society do not comply with directives, we will only prolong this pandemic.
If you need any further information, we consistently update our COVID-19 page on our public safety website at dps.stowevt.gov/covid-19. I also ask that you like follow and share our Stowe Public Safety Facebook page. We constantly share up to date information there as well. If those options don’t work for you, don’t hesitate to the call me at the fire department, 253-4315.
I want close with this. It is absolutely vital that we stop the division and vigilantism. There has been a lot of discussion of us versus them. There is absolutely no place for that during these trying times. We have always been a town that has included our second home owners and visitors within our community. Now is the time that we must come together as one and support our neighbors, regardless of their license plate color.
Chief Kyle Walker