Dr. Fauci applauds Vermont’s response to pandemic, calls on nation to follow its lead

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Dr. Anthony Fauci joined Vermont Gov. Phil Scott's coronavirus press briefing Sept. 14, where he applauded the state's low COVID-19 positivity rate.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading expert on infectious disease, called Vermont’s handling of COVID-19 some of the best in the country, at a press briefing with Vermont reporters Sept. 15. 

Fauci joined Governor Phil Scott’s biweekly press briefing remotely for 30 minutes Tuesday to speak briefly on the coronavirus in Vermont and answer questions from the press. Fauci, who has become a household name in the country, praised Vermont’s response to the virus. 

“If we do what you’ve [Vermont] been doing in the rest of the country…we can not only get through the fall and winter, but we can come out on the other end better off than we went in,” Fauci said. 

Despite his praise, Fauci warned Vermont residents not to let their guard down.

“Even when you are in as good of shape as Vermont is, by certain things that you’ve done, don’t get careless,” he said. “I don’t expect that you will, because there’s no indication of that, but be prudent and careful in your interactions in the community.”

Fauci also noted that Vermont has one of the lowest positivity rates in the country at around 0.2 percent. 

“I want to congratulate you and all of the officials in your state who have been responsible for this plan and the implementation of it in a very prudent way,” he said. 

Fauci said he hopes Vermont’s low numbers of cases will continue into the winter. 

“I don’t think you inevitably are going to have a second wave,” he said. “It’s going to be challenging as you get into the future in the winter, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to have a problem.”

Following Fauci’s appearance, Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine offered praise for the University of Vermont’s “aggressive” pre-screening efforts before students made it back to campus at the end of August. 

“Through [students quarantining] you were able to pick out the few cases there were, including students coming from other higher risk areas, and then have the entire campus start on a level playing field,” he said. 

Dr. Levine also said that UVM and other Vermont colleges should remain hopeful.

“On the phone call with the colleges this morning, there was quite a bit of optimism and a real sense of accomplishment by those who were on the call because they felt that they really launched the process really well,” he said.  

New data from the state of Vermont showed that compared to other colleges across the country, Vermont college students have some of the lowest rates of COVID-19, coming in at 0.09 percent.

According to last week’s testing report, UVM had a 0.03 percent positivity rate with three positive cases of the 8,385 tests conducted on students, faculty and staff.

UVM’s newest testing results from Sept. 10-Sept. 16 will be posted to the UVM website tomorrow Sept. 17 at 4 p.m.