Weekly Covid Update: Cases balloon as state ranks No. 2 in vaccine rollout

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The beginning of the new year is already breaking records, with the first days of 2021 seeing an astounding 1,207 new cases of Covid-19 for a total of 8,619 cases, and 20 more deaths, totaling 156, since the last 2020 report on Thursday, Dec. 31. The seven-day positivity rate has also reached a new high, at 2.9 percent, up from 2.8 percent last week.

Vermonters over the age of 80 accounted for 15 of the 20 recent deaths. The total positive case numbers, deaths and other statistics are based on data published on the state daily dashboard.

The Vermont Department of Health reported new case counts above the 200 mark over the last two days, with a trend that Commissioner Mark Levine said is due in part to the “impact of the holidays.”

Levine said that although he is concerned about the 200+ daily case counts of the last several days, he is not going to recommend any drastic changes to guidelines until after the holidays and the state will “let these events play out” before intervening in a strict way. Levine later said the VDH won’t know yet what may be attributed to any New Year’s Eve gatherings for at least a week.

During Friday’s press conference, Human Services Secretary Mike Smith said that 21,000 Vermonters have now been vaccinated as part of the first tier of vaccination distribution plan, which includes health care workers, first responders and residents of long-term care facilities.

Once the first tier is complete, the state will next begin to implement vaccine distribution according to age, beginning with those 75 and older receiving vaccines likely at the end of January. Once complete, those 70 and up will follow, then 65 and older. All three groups total approximately 125,000 Vermonters. Completion of this group will likely end in the spring.

Smith shared the positive news that Vermont ranks second in the nation in the rate of doses distributed per 100,000 people.

To follow the latest data on vaccination distribution in Vermont visit the COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard.

Levine said the Health Department is currently following more than 40 outbreaks and over 200 situations, the most noteworthy involving Christmas church services at the Victory Baptist Church in Addison County responsible for 80 positive cases. Twelve long-term senior care facilities continue to be monitored with total positive cases reaching well over 500.

Smith said that a number of new positive tests among the staff at Vermont correctional facilities caused a modified lock down at Northern State Correctional Facility, Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility, Northwest State Correctional Facility and Southern State Correctional Facility. Marble Valley Correctional Facility has gone into full lockdown with one positive case identified and while awaiting the pending results from one likely positive case. A total of 37 Vermont Department of Corrections staff members have tested positive since March.

TRSU, other districts reopen under hybrid model

According to Secretary of Education Dan French, most students returned to schools this week under a hybrid model that combines online and in-person learning. Two Rivers Supervisory Union will return to a hybrid model on Monday, Jan. 11. The TRSU made the decision to go fully remote after breaking for the Thanksgiving holiday until next week to avoid challenges with holiday travel and family gatherings.

In K-12 schools throughout Vermont, there are new new Covid cases, down from 27 reported before the holiday break, with 277 total Covid cases reported as of Wednesday, Jan. 6, on the  School Based Covid-19 Transmission document.

According to French, school surveillance testing, which tests 25 percent. of school staff around the state each week, continues to show a significantly lower positivity rate than the general population, with .17 percent positivity versus the nearly 3 percent throughout the state.

State-wide testing of unique individuals averaged more than 1,500 per day, up from the approximate 1,000 daily average before Christmas. Total tests given averaged over 5,700 each day with a total of 46,146 tests given since 2021 began.

The Covid-19 testing schedule for Springfield has been updated with daily testing available from now through Sunday, Jan. 24 with varying times each day. The CIC Health Testing in Springfield is located at 51 Pearl St., Level 1, in Springfield. Click on this link to check for specific times each day. This site has a link to sign up to be notified of future testing dates in the area of your choice.

Chittenden County continued to lead the county case counts with 381 new cases reported since last the end of 2020, for 3,039 in total. Addison County added 135 new cases for a total of 404. Both Windsor County and Windham County jumped by 125 cases each, their largest increases since the pandemic began. Windsor’s total now stands at 529, and Windham’s total is 595.

Levine also said,  “Vermont has helped shape national CDC data.” The National Centers for Disease Control used information from Vermont’s Covid data in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, said Levine. The CDC reported on Vermont’s data analysis concerning ending quarantine on or after Day 7 if a person remains symptom free and has a negative test result.

For more state-wide details on COVID-19 information and resources, click here.

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  1. Michelle Messina says:

    I suspect that part of the problem with the covid numbers sky rocketing is due to the ski mountains still remaining open, encouraging out of state residents to vacation and shop at our local stores. A lot of residents come from states that have extremely higher numbers than Vermont. I realize many of the ski resorts need to continue to bring in business but at what cost to everyone else who resides here?