Campus COVID outbreak linked to hockey league in Central Vermont

By Grace Filloramo and Sarah Knickerbocker

Online Editor and Design Editor

In breaking news at his weekly press conference today,  Vermont Gov. Phil Scott and state health officials revealed that the COVID-19 outbreak at Saint Michael’s College was sparked by an outbreak in Central Vermont earlier this month and COVID fatigue may also have contributed.

“There are 89 total cases now associated with the central Vermont outbreak. The outbreak led to four additional outbreaks although much smaller in size, in exception of the larger outbreak at Saint Michael’s College, where there are now 47 cases,” said Michael Pieciak, Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation. 

The four outbreaks are all linked to two cases that have been traced to a central Vermont hockey league that within days led to 13 cases spreading outwards. “We have noticed in our own data that individuals are spending more time not just outside of their homes but further away from their homes since the spring. With increased mobility, you’re seeing cases easily being spread through geographic areas,” Pieciak said. 

“A few days later the first few cases at Saint Michael’s College were identified. Initially there were eight individual cases detected through campus surveillance testing,” Pieciak said. “The first reported case of transmission among the college was just a few days later on Oct. 21st”

“This is the worst time to let COVID fatigue set in” said the Commissioner of Health for Vermont, Dr. Mark Levine who also appeared at a Student Town Hall at Saint Michael’s Thursday evening.

“Covid fatigue is our fatigue around all of the difficult efforts we are called upon to do in order to lessen the spread of covid,” said Mary Masson, the Director of Student Health Services at Saint Michael’s College.

“It’s the sacrifices we make, the loneliness we feel, the inability to live life as we did a year ago. It’s constantly being called upon to think of the common good versus just ourselves. And we are feeling the effects, which can be loneliness, general anxiety, exhaustion and yes, grief.”

With this sort of pandemic fatigue on the rise, we also see a rise in the number of people who have contracted COVID-19.

In regard to the outbreak largely stemming from St. Michael’s there are now a total 11 situations being monitored by the Vermont Department of Health Dr. Levine explained.

In the press conference, health officials were adamant that Vermonters must continue to follow the COVID-19 guidelines, especially now with a spike in case numbers. “That means masking up, keeping six feet apart, washing your hands, keeping social gatherings small and just amongst those you trust, especially as we move indoors and make sure to follow our travel guidelines” said Vermont Governor Phil Scott.