MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — News that President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for COVID-19 "is a reminder that this virus knows no boundaries and we have to remain vigilant in order to remain safe," Republican Vermont Gov. Phil Scott said Friday during his bi-weekly virus briefing.
Scott, who said his thoughts were with the president, his family and the people Trump may have come into contact with recently, said he understands how stressful and troubling the pandemic is for the country, "adding to that a national atmosphere that is so polarized.”
He urged Vermonters to find a way to come together and help and be kinder to each other.
"This pandemic has tested our strength over and over again," Scott said. He recommended that Vermonters take some time this weekend to perhaps get a maple creemee, enjoy the foliage, climb a mountain, or visit a state park.
“Whatever you can do to take care of yourselves because your mental health is important as well," he said.
A golf tournament in Bennington has led to a small number of COVID-19 cases in Vermont and across the New York state border, said Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine on Friday. The Fall Foliage Invitational Tournament at Mount Anthony Country Club over the weekend of Sept. 19 has led to five cases, including three in Vermonters, he said.
Health teams have provided isolation guidance to those who tested positive and identified their close contacts so they can quarantine to prevent further spread of the virus, he said.
The Health Department reached out to the more than 80 people who attended, although it considers others to have a lower risk of being exposed to the virus. Attendees are being asked to stay home if they feel sick, call their health care provider if they develop symptoms, and consider getting tested even if they don't have symptoms, he said.
“This is a reminder, like Dr. (Anthony) Fauci told us, that despite all of our good work here in Vermont things can change quickly if we're not careful," Levine said. "Just look at what's with the wedding event in Maine,” he said, referring to a wedding and reception in northern Maine that has led to outbreaks in different parts of the state including at a nursing home in Madison and a jail in southern Maine, with 180 cases and eight deaths.
Vermont reported 13 new cases of the coronavirus on Friday, for a statewide total to date of 1,768. One person was hospitalized and no new deaths have been reported for over two months.
While most people who contract the coronavirus recover after suffering only mild to moderate symptoms, it can be deadly for older patients and those with other health problems.
This story has been corrected to reflect that the wedding and reception was in Maine, not Vermont.