Workers running coronavirus tests at the Vermont Health Department lab
The Vermont Department of Health reported 24 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, but no new deaths.
The number of people who’ve tested positive for the virus in the state now stands at 235, while the death toll remains 12, according to the data updated Sunday afternoon.
It was the first time in about a week that the state reported no new COVID-19 deaths. The increase in new infections represents the smallest number of new cases reported in nearly a week, since 20 new cases were reported on March 23.
The modest increase comes alongside a dramatic spike in the total number of tests performed in the state, from 2,374 on Saturday to 3,701 Sunday. It's unclear whether those 1,327 new tests have also been processed or just conducted. The health department did not immediately respond to a request for clarification.
The spike in testing comes after Health Commissioner Mark Levine announced Friday that the state would allow people with mild symptoms — who previously wouldn’t have qualified for a test — to get tested following an increase in the number of testing kits available in the state.
The “more testing now” strategy is a calculated decision to draw down the state’s stash of test kits in an effort to identify more people infected, have them isolate themselves and trace their contacts, Levine said.
“This is really the critical juncture,” he said. Patients still need a referral from their doctor to be tested, and those without symptoms are still not eligible for a test, Levine said.
Vermont health officials have not said how many test kits they have on hand.