Like rest of country, Vermont Covid numbers rise State issues early vaccination protocol, frontline hazard pay program

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The Vermont Department of Health confirmed a jump of 28 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, for a steep incline of 101 new cases reported this week, a small portion of the 82,600 new infections reported nationwide on Friday alone.

Despite that, Vermont still has the lowest seven-day per capita average of daily new reported cases in the country.

The last three weeks have seen a higher overall trend for positivity numbers, with 69 new cases reported last week, and 78 new cases reported the week prior. During the Tuesday, Oct. 20 press conference, Michael Pieciak of the Department of Financial Regulation said that the cumulative total from the last three weeks hasn’t been seen since the middle part of April.

The total positive case numbers are based on data published on the VDH daily dashboard, tracking cases reported during the span from Friday, Oct. 16 to Friday, Oct. 23. The number of Covid deaths in Vermont remains at 58, a number that has not increased in nearly three months.

The largest outbreak the VDH is continuing to follow involves the youth and adult hockey teams that played at the Central Vermont Memorial Civic Center in Montpelier earlier this month. That outbreak now has confirmed 43 total cases and has entangled: two colleges for a total of six cases; seven K-12 schools for 12 cases; seven work places for 12 cases; and two hospitals with two cases. The close contact list is up to 240 people. State Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said that this is the kind of outbreak you don’t want to see since it has “tentacles in many areas” and is not limited to one county.

In K-12 schools throughout Vermont, there were 13 confirmed cases reported on the VDH website’s school tally last Monday. During Tuesday’s press conference, Levine confirmed that there were another three confirmed cases and five more probable cases in Vermont schools. Union Elementary School in Montpelier accounts for six of those cases, and accounts for the first in-school transmission. According to a letter from the Montpelier Roxbury Public School Superintendent, UES has gone to virtual learning this week with plans to resume in-person instruction on Monday, Nov. 2.

Reporting on higher education numbers on Tuesday, Pieciak said that only two new cases were discovered in the past week and that six previously recorded cases were reclassified, bringing the college numbers down to 51 positive cases in total. However, during Friday’s press conference, it was confirmed that St. Michael’s College had six new positive Covid-19 cases. Two more cases have since been confirmed, totaling eight, and the college has gone to remote-only learning as a precaution.

Other coronavirus clusters being investigated by the VDH throughout the state include a wedding that took place in Cambridge at the Barn at Boyden Farm, which identified seven positive cases from a group of 77 attendees. One positive case was identified at the Brattleboro Retreat. That patient has been moved to a Covid-19 mental health facility and testing of everyone on the same floor of that facility has come back negative.

Weekly testing number rises to 6,338

Statewide testing of unique individuals increased from last week, with a total of 6,338 new tests given, up from 6,166 tests last week. Overall testing numbers this week increased to over 32,000, up from around 30,000. This larger number includes second and third tests for some people.

This week, Chittenden County saw an increase of 36 positive cases for a total of 933. Washington County (Montpelier) saw a big jump of 25 cases, up from 13 last week, now totaling 119. Windsor County was back to double digits, adding 10, for a total of 116. Windham County gained nine new cases, up from last week’s two cases, for a total of 140.

One person was hospitalized with Covid-19 this week, up from zero. And the number of hospitalization under investigation went from one to two people.

Contacts Monitored went from 61 to 78. Travelers being monitored, which includes those participating in the Sara Alert system, was down this week, going from 670 to 565.

The pop-up Covid-19 testing schedule for Springfield has only one Tuesday date, Oct. 27. November dates have not yet been added. The testing location is at the Springfield UU Meetinghouse on Fairground Road. To schedule a test, click on this link and scroll down to the “Register for Pop-Up Testing” button. This site has recently added a link to sign up to be notified of future testing dates in the area of your choice.

The travel map continues to redden as seen with the latest Oct. 20 update from the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development to Vermont’s cross-state travel information map. This map identifies the surrounding counties throughout the Northeast that can freely travel to Vermont without quarantine. This is a county-by-county list for those areas that have less than 400 active Covid-19 cases per million residents and is updated weekly. Eligible travel counties continue to slide downward. Click this link to see the latest updates to this interactive county map.

Vaccine distribution program, frontline hazard pay

Levine, along with Gov. Phil Scott, spoke about the state’s vaccine preparedness program that was submitted to the CDC last week. Levine said that any vaccine must meet all safety and effectiveness standards before they will distribute it.

He also outlined the different tiers for vaccine distribution starting with those in long-term care facilities. Levine also said that most vaccines that are being developed include a 2-phase vaccination. “We’ll be ready for the vaccine before the vaccine is ready for us,” he said. You can read the full vaccination plan and summary here.

Pieciak provided an update on a second round of funding for a Frontline Employees Hazard Pay Grant Program that is providing $22.5 million in 26 employer categories. The program is for workers employed from March 13 through May 15, at least 68 hours in total and will be awarded on a first come, first-served basis. This program application must be initiated by the employer however, not the employee. The application portal will open at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 28. Employers can view a webinar on the program at 3 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26. Click here for more details.

For more statewide details on Covid-19 information and resources, click here.

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