Friday, August 21, 2020

Meanwhile in Vermont

Earlier this week, turned on to it by a reader, Gossips shared an interactive map, published by the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, which provides information about active cases of COVID-19 within the Vermont leisure travel region. At that time, Columbia County was shown as red on the map, indicating that travelers from Columbia County to Vermont would have to quarantine for fourteen days upon arrival. According to the map, Columbia County had 832 active cases per million, which, given our population of just under 60,000, works out to about 50 active cases. At that time, the Columbia County Department of Health was reporting 10 active cases.

Since the Vermont information is updated every Friday, I decided to check again today to see how we were doing in the eyes of Vermont. This week, things have improved a bit. Columbia County has gone from red to yellow--an improvement, but travelers from yellow counties still have to quarantine for fourteen days upon arriving in Vermont.

Today, according to the Vermont map, Columbia County has 626 active cases per one million. Given our population of 60,000, that works out to about 37, by my calculations. Yesterday, the Columbia County Department of Health reported there were 6 active cases in the county.

Puzzled by the disparity, a reader contacted the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation, pointing out that on August 18 Columbia County had 8 active cases of COVID-19. The response received reads in part:
According to our data and calculations there are 49 active cases, which translates to 832 active cases per million in Columbia County, NY.
Our modeling experts are comfortable with the accuracy of our methodology and regularly review the most recent data available. Converting to a per million value is a crucial part of our algorithm, since an absolute count would allow almost all low population areas, even those with very high rates of infection, to travel into Vermont without a quarantine, presenting a significant risk to the health of Vermonters.
One has to wonder where Vermont is getting its data.


  1. Does the Vermont Dept. of Financial Regulation assume there are a certain number of undetected active cases for each verified active case? If so, Columbia County would probably have to remain below 5 active cases before any of us are allowed to take a day trip to Vermont.

  2. If you add the active case, mandatory quarantine, and precautionary quarantine numbers for today you get 49 which is the same as the number Vermont is using. Just a guess.

    1. The problem is that 49 is the number Vermont was claiming we had last week. This week, the number works out to 37. 6 + 39 + 4 does not add up to 37.