Vermont National Guard to operate COVID-19 testing site in Putney

PUTNEY, Vt. – The Vermont Department of Health, in collaboration with the medical division of the National Guard Civil Support Team, is setting up an additional COVID-19 patient test site at Landmark College in Putney, Vt. This site is being established to provide additional testing capacity for people who have a referral from their health care provider.

At a press conference on Friday, Gov. Phil Scott and Health Commissioner Mark Levine, M.D. announced that aggressive procurement of supplies has allowed the state to broaden the scope of its testing efforts. Until now, limited supplies required restricting prioritized testing to high-risk patients. Dr. Levine said health care providers are now able to include people with mild to moderate symptoms in making clinical referrals for priority testing.

Hospitals and federally qualified health centers throughout Vermont have been at the forefront of the state’s COVID-19 response and are receiving these newly available supplies for specimen collection.

The Landmark College site is the latest addition to the increasing number of temporary pop-up, drive-through and other facilities being established to help ensure as many Vermonters as possible can be tested. Health care providers will be continually informed of these sites as they become available.

“Early and broad testing is a proven strategy to limit the spread of this virus,” said Dr. Levine. “Vermont is still early enough on the curve of positive cases that increased testing can have a large impact on our ability to flatten that curve. We are sincerely grateful for the work of our entire health care establishment, and for the support being provided by our National Guard.”

The Landmark College testing site has begun seeing referred patients starting as of Sunday, March 29. It will operate from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. throughout the week. The hours, and for how many days the site is open, will depend on the availability of testing supplies.

Health officials emphasized that people cannot simply show up at a testing site or drive-thru location. Everyone must still talk with their health care provider and be formally referred for testing.

Expanded testing is a critically important strategic step that Dr. Levine said drives the state’s efforts to aggressively procure supplies to broaden the opportunities for people to be tested, even as a steady pipeline of those supplies cannot be guaranteed.

“The steady increase in positive cases in Vermont, along with the growing number of people who are ill and who, tragically, have died from the virus, mean that while we will draw on our supplies more quickly, the benefit of ‘more testing now’ significantly outweighs the risk that we may have to slow these efforts again later.”

“Our overall strategy is to test, to counsel and isolate those who test positive, conduct contact tracing, and quarantine as clinically appropriate,” said Dr. Levine. “We are all counting on each other to do everything we can to meet this public health crisis head on.”

For up-to-date information and guidance for staying healthy and preventing the spread of illness go to www.healthvermont.gov/covid19.

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