Covid-19 updates

Are out-of-staters, fleeing the virus, coming to Central Vermont?

By Curt Peterson

Some Vermonters imagine a vast influx of out-of-staters bringing the dreaded coronavirus into our state. Governor Scott has shut down short-term rentals and regular lodgings until June 15, but second-home owners fleeing New York, in particular, but New Jersey and Southern New England as well, are allegedly here in droves to escape the virus.

But that assumption is largely based on a logical deduction rather than evidence.

Indeed, the statistics would indicate Rutland and Windsor counties are a pretty safe place to be during the pandemic.

As of April 20, Rutland County (population 58,000) registered 43 confirmed cases of Covid-19 (7/10,000), and Windsor County (population 55,000) has 37 confirmed cases (7/10,000). Two have died in Windsor County, one in Rutland County.

Statewide, 38 virus patients have died, 12,726 Vermonters have been tested, and 812 cases have been confirmed (about 13/10,000).

New York City (population of 8.4 million) alone has 129,788 (04/19/20) confirmed Covid-19 cases (154/10,000) and 10,022 deaths.

But are fears of infected “carpetbaggers” bringing the virus to our relatively safe, resource-limited regions justified?

Suspicion the virus may be imported from harder-hit states inspired Governor Scott to post state employees at the borders counting out-of-state license plates.

Stephanie Brackin, media relations/Covid-19 joint information center information management officer, provided the Mountain Times with the border statistics: Between April 1 and April 12, 290,071 Vermont vehicles have entered the state and 280,827 out-of-state vehicles have entered the state— in other words, about half (50.8%) of the vehicles crossing the borders had Vermont plates, and about half (49.2%) were registered out-of-state.

“We are seeing approximately 53% less overall traffic into and within Vermont. Much of this data comes from Roadway Weather Information Systems (RWIS), the automated data collection,” Brackin reported. Additionally, she said, “We are seeing at least a 60% decline in reportable crashes in the same time frame.”

The governor has required that everyone entering Vermont from “hot spot” locations to self-quarantine for 14 days once here – this includes Vermonters as well as out-of-staters.

Brackin said the state posts information “everywhere” to inform local and visiting public of the regulations and recommendations, “including road signs, public service announcements … on radio and television, posts across state government social media pages, and comprehensive information on state websites.”

As of April 13 the Vermont Department of Health reported 40 confirmed Covid-19 cases were patients from other states – out of 748, or about 5.3%.

“The Health Department reports the cumulative number of people who have tested positive for Covid-19 by county of residence. Non-residents who test positive in Vermont while visiting or seeking care are included in the county where they were identified,” Brackin explained.

While we know that as of April 18, Rutland County had 42 confirmed cases and Windsor County had 34, whether or not all of those cases were residents of Vermont would not be disclosed. Rutland Regional Medical Center’s Marketing and Public Relations Communications Specialist Peg Bolgioni declined to say how many of their Covid-19 patients are out-of-state residents, citing HIPPA privacy regulations, and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center doesn’t have information that shows how many of their Covid-19 patients are from neither New Hampshire nor Vermont, according to Rick Adams, DHMC senior director of strategic communications and marketing.

Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center did not respond to our request for patient demographics in time for our deadline. But we anticipate a similar reply.

On April 8, Jess Carson, research assistant professor at UNH Carsey School of Public Policy, published a short study on the subject of Covid-19 incidence in rural vs. urban environments called “Rural Areas with Seasonal Homes Hit Hard by Covid-19.”

In it she wrote: “In the nation’s 199 rural counties where seasonal housing accounts for 25% or more of all housing units, average cases per 100,000 are more than twice as high as in other rural counties and 15% higher than in urban areas as of April 5.”

Interpolating an attached graph, the seasonal dwelling-heavy counties averaged almost 7/10,000, while other rural counties a little more than 3/10,000.

This, compared with Rutland and Windsor County figures, would indicate we are about where Carson predicts us to be. We have twice the national case rate as rural counties with few seasonal homes, but New York City, from which many out-of-state isolaters are thought to come, has 18 times the rate our region has.

7 comments on “Are out-of-staters, fleeing the virus, coming to Central Vermont?

  1. I was going into Shaw’s the other day and was walking barrel I was walking along side a woman going into Shaw’s I had my mask
    mask on she asked,”is it mandatory to wear masks”, I’m from NJ and it’s a night mare. I thought how is this happening?

  2. I live in Cheshire County NH and believe me there are plenty of Vermont license plates parked at our home improvement stpres, supermarkets and state liquor stores. Vermonter’s can keep their Better than Thow attitudes in their own state and shop in their own stores. What are they thinking!!!

  3. They are already here, as an essential employee I pass by far too many out of state plates, namely NY. They are either parked or driving around. Lies I saw unto thee.

  4. While his intentions might be good, closing hotels and motels and limiting the aisles people can walk down in Wal Mart is foolish, endangers public health, and violates the 6 foot “rule” of social distancing. When you limit where people can go in a store, you are condensing people into smaller spaces, violating the “6 foot rule” and putting people’s lives at risk. If a store’s aisles are not more than 6 feet wide and you eliminate aisles that people can walk through, then you are forcing people to come within close contact with others, making things more dangerous. As to motels and hotels, not everyone who stays in one is on vacation. There are people who live in some of those motels, and there are truck drivers who do not have sleepers on their trucks and stay in motels or hotels when they are working. As a new resident, I’ve noticed VT is not very “truck friendly”, so maybe all trucks should just stay out of VT and let Vermonters go to other states to do their shopping. As it is, I’m sure most of the out of town plates being recorded are people who moved here, haven’t registered their vehicles yet, and are going to NY to shop, since the Governor decided to reduce the items people can buy. So while he may be good intentioned, Governor Scott is creating part of the problem.

  5. I am sorry but out-stater absolutely should not be here under any circumstances especially now they come here from. Connecticut, New Jersey, Long Island, Massachusetts & New York & hide in their second homes up on Stratton they are rude to locals buy up all the food they can find they are selfish thinking only of themselves..We all know that they are not self- quarantining for (14) days.I have no respect for people who can not stay in their own state but come to Vermont where we have been in quarantine since March .

  6. Someone should take a look at Windham County with 65 cases! When we first were hit 4 out of the 8 confirmed were out of staters coming to their 2nd homes at Stratton Mountain and Mount Snow. There have been more NY and out of state cars on the road then Vermonters and more of them walking in groups on our trails. They are not quarantining and our small store parking lots are fulled with their cars. Some if them did quarantine but a good portion of them are not. There are MANY of them that have been here for the weekend or a few days. We live in the area and see the people come and go in these otherwise vacant houses this time of year. Not a good situation for those of us that live, work and try to survive here.

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