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The home for VPR's coverage of health and health industry issues affecting the state of Vermont.

How To Read Vermont's COVID-19 Numbers

A large white machine sits on a counter.
Elodie Reed
A PCR machine, which is used to amplify RNA from test samples to detect COVID-19, at the Vermont Department of Health Lab in Colchester.

Updated 5:10 p.m. 11/5/2020

The Vermont Department of Health is updating our state's COVID-19 numbers every day. Some of the data is self-explanatory; some is not. Here's how to interpret the numbers.


New Cases: The daily number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 by the Vermont Department of Health, commercial labs, and other public health labs, according to the state. Below it is the total, cumulative number of cases, which means it shows how many people have tested positive since the pandemic began, including people who have recovered. 

Currently Hospitalized/Hospitalized In ICU: The number of patients with COVID-19 who are currently hospitalized — including those in the ICU — as counted by the Vermont Healthcare Emergecy Preparedness Coalition. "Data are based on hospitals updating this information as they are able," according to the Health Department.

Hospitalized Under Investigation: These are people who are hospitalized with illnesses that are being investigated as potential but not yet confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Percent Positive 7-Day Average: The percent of people who take a PCR test for COVID-19 in a given week whose results come back positive.

People Tested: The cumulative number of people who have been tested for COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. It includes people tested in Vermont and Vermont residents tested out of state. The Health Department says if people get tested more than once, they are only included in the data one time. The number does not include serology tests (commonly known as antibody tests).

Total Tests: The total number of PCR tests completed since the beginning of the pandemic.

On May 17, the Vermont Department of Health posted the following on the database's homepage:

As of May 16, the total testing numbers decreased by about 1,000 due to a change in reporting data. The “total tests” number no longer includes serology tests (also known as antibody tests) that were being reported by some labs. The "total test" number now only reflects people who were tested for a current COVID-19 infection.

Commissioner of Health Mark Levine said at a press conference May 20 that this change should have minimal impact on the "percent positivity," or the percentage of total tests that return positive.

Recovered: According to Health Commissioner Mark Levine, these are both residents and non-residents who have tested positive in Vermont for COVID-19 and have self-reported their recovery, or have had 30 days go by since they were first diagnosed. Also included is the percentage this number represents of Vermont's total cases.

Deaths: This number reflects the number of patients "known to have COVID-19" who have died. In some cases, a death certificate may be pending. Included is the percentage this number represents of Vermont's total cases.

Travelers/Contacts Monitored & People Completed Monitoring: "Monitoring is for a resident or non-resident who comes to Vermont from outside the state ­– for anything other than an essential purpose ­­– or who has been in close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19," according to the Department of Health's "Frequently Asked Questions."

During monitoring, a person stays home, watches for symptoms of COVID-19 and checks their temperature daily.

If you were in close contact with someone who is diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the state, you should contact your health care provider (or if you don't have one, call 2-1-1), and then call the Vermont Department of Health at 802-863-7240, and follow the guidance posted here: What to do if you're in close contact with someone with COVID-19.

Find more COVID-19 information from the Vermont Department of Health here.

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Angela Evancie serves as Vermont Public's Senior VP of Content, and was the Director of Engagement Journalism and the Executive Producer of Brave Little State, the station's people-powered journalism project.
Liam is Vermont Public’s public safety reporter, focusing on law enforcement, courts and the prison system.
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