Covid Weekly Update: State of emergency, vaccine rollout continue Not all activities seen as drivers of Covid numbers

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Gov. Phil Scott extended the state of emergency throughout Vermont through mid-February as new weekly Covid-19 totals again topped 1,000 for the second week in a row. The new weekly total of 1,115 was down slightly from the record-setting high of 1,207 last week, for a total of 9,734.

Seven Vermonters died of Covid this week, significantly down from 20 reported last week. The total number of deaths in Vermont now stands at 163. All of this week’s deaths were older than 70. The seven-day positivity rate has also fallen, from the high of 2.9 percent last week to 2.7 percent. The total positive case numbers, deaths and other statistics are based on data published on the Health Department’s daily dashboard from Friday, Jan. 8 through Friday, Jan. 15.

Hospitalizations reached a record high reported Tuesday with 51, 10 of whom were in the ICU. That number now stands at 44 with six in  the ICU.

Despite these numbers, Scott, in consultation with the Health Department and the Agency of Education, will move into Phase 2 of Sports and Recreation guidance, effective Monday, Jan 18. Scott said that Phase 1, which allowed only skills training and drills, has seen no spread of virus and spread within schools continues to remain extremely low.

Phase 2 allows teams to expand practices to include drills with limited contact and scrimmages. Games and scrimmages with other teams are still not allowed and masks are required.

Citing physical and mental health benefits, Scott also announced that outdoor individual sports, such as alpine skiing and snowboarding or cross-country skiing may begin in small groups. Competition has not yet been approved.

Vaccine rollout continues; 35,000 doses give thus far

[Dropcap]D[/dropcap]uring Friday’s press conference, Human Services Secretary Mike Smith said that Vermont is receiving about 8,800 doses of vaccine each week, with 35,000 doses administered to date. As Phase 1 of vaccinations is nearing completion; which included health care workers, first responders and residents of long-term care facilities. Phase 2 will begin rolling out the week of Jan. 25 and will include Vermonters age 75 and older.

Phase 2 recipients will be able to register for their vaccine either online or through a call center, although the online tool is encouraged. The website and the phone number will be released closer to the launch date. Vermonters should not call their doctor or local hospital. For those who are homebound, partnerships through local EMS and home health agencies will help provide vaccines.

Smith stressed that once you make an appointment for a vaccine, it is important to keep it. Both Smith and Levine emphasized the importance of making sure that no doses were wasted. Second doses will be scheduled when the first dose is given.

Once the 75+ age group is completed, those ages 70+ and 65+ would follow with the expectation that those age bands would be complete by the end of winter. After that, the next phase will include Vermonters with increased risk, ages 18 and older. Those identified risk factors include cancer, kidney disease, COPD, certain heart conditions, pregnancy, severe obesity, type-2 diabetes, downs syndrome, sickle cell disease and those who have immuno-compromised disorders.

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

Some activities aren’t driving up Covid numbers

According to Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine, the Health Department is following 42 outbreaks and nearly 400 situations. The largest outbreak, with 115 cases, is in Addison Country, the result of several Christmas services at Victory Baptist Church. Levine said there were no significant secondary outbreaks associated with that event. Levine said that only 11 percent of cases were tied to an outbreak and that general community transmission was responsible for the majority of new cases.

He also said that long-term care facilities were no longer driving the increases and that schools, day-cares and workplaces were also not driving numbers. He specified that cases associated with ski resorts were employees from sporadic areas around the resort and they were “not seeing traces of transmission from skiing itself.”

In K-12 schools throughout Vermont, there are 45 new Covid cases, significantly up from four reported last week, with 325 total Covid cases reported as of Wednesday, Jan. 13, on the School Based Covid-19 Transmission document.

State-wide testing of unique individuals averaged approximately 1,300 per day, down slightly from 1,500 per day last week. Total tests given averaged over 6,400, up from 5,700 each day from last week.

The COVID-19 testing schedule for Springfield has been updated with daily testing available from now through Sunday, Jan. 31 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.

Click chart to enlarge

County, local cases

Chittenden County lead the county case counts with 308 new cases reported since last week for a total of 3,419. Last week saw both Windsor and Windham Counties with a record 125 cases since the beginning of the year. This week’s tally for Windsor set another record reporting 149 new cases in one week for a total of 678. Windham County, which had been leading between the two in prior weeks, was lower this week, adding just 85 new cases for 680 total cases.

Town totals  from March 5, 2020 through Jan. 13, 2021 show that Chester has 35 Covid-19 cases in total; Cavendish has 14; Londonderry has 33; Grafton remains at six; Springfield has 86; Ludlow has 33; and Rockingham has 71.

Specific numbers for Andover Weston, Landgrove, Peru are not listed but are one or below.

Addison County, identified as having the highest positivity rate this week, added 88 new cases, down from 135 for a total of 492.

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

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