Weekly Covid Update: Rates continue to decline while hospitalizations rise State says Springfield Hospital's Moderna doses OK to use

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Vermont’s Covid-19 weekly new case total, death toll and positivity rate have continued to decline for the fourth week in a row, according to the state Department of Health. New case weekly numbers dropped below the 1,000 mark to 899 reported this week.

The total number of cases now stands at 11,658; with new deaths falling from six to three this past week. Every person who died this week was older than 80. And those brought the total to 172.

The positivity rate has dropped from 2.5 percent last week to 2 percent this week. (The positivity rate is the number of positives found versus the number of tests in a specific time period. A 2 percent rate means that for every 100 tests conducted, two positives were found. )

Hospitalizations are a trailing metric increasing to 57, up from 43 last week. Patients in intensive care are also up from 5 last week to 11.

The total positive case numbers, deaths and other statistics are based on data published on the state’s daily dashboard from Friday, Jan. 22 through Friday, Jan. 29.

Phase 2 of the Vermont vaccination plan for Vermonters age 75 and older began this week with approximately 32,500 eligible Vermonters registering for the vaccine since Monday out of a 49,000 person age group. In the first three days vaccinating this age group, just over 3,600 Vermonters in the group have received their first dose.

Mike Smith, secretary of the Agency of Human Services, said he anticipates finishing the 75+ age group in five weeks and that the age bands of 75+, 70+, and 65+ should have at least their first dose by late winter or early spring. This projected timeline does not include any new vaccine manufacturers being approved or an increase of doses from the federal government. The state is currently partnering with Kinney Drugs and has said that it is negotiating new partnerships in the coming weeks to increase vaccination capacity if more doses are provided. There are no Kinney Drugs in southern Vermont.

Springfield Hospital exonerated

Smith also announced that all 860 doses of Moderna vaccine at Springfield Hospital, suspected of being compromised when one of three monitors registered a higher temperature, are safe for use.  Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said the state in a “comprehensive review” with Moderna, determined that all of the vaccine doses were deemed effective and safe for use. To date, only 99 doses throughout the state, or 0.1 percent, have been deemed not viable or categorized as “wastage.”

The Telegraph continues to pose questions about the differences between the monitors.

The Telegraph reported extensively about the situation:

Jan. 28: Moderna: Springfield’s 860 doses OK to use

Jan.28: Springfield Hospital’s Friday Covid vaccine clinic to be held as scheduled

Jan. 27: Health Dept.: Review of Springfield Hospital situation continues

Jan 27: Temperature questions shut down vaccine clinic at Springfield Hospital

Smith said that one objective of Vermont’s vaccination program is to prevent waste of doses and therefore to allow local health authorities to use “Vermont common sense and fairness” in cases where there are remaining doses after administering to all registered recipients. He said the state would not punish anyone for administering the extra doses to those outside the appropriate group in these circumstances.

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

Vermonters age 75+ can register online by clicking here or call 855-722-7878. Details on the vaccine and the vaccination process can be found here.

Winter sports, school numbers, county numbers

Vermont college and university students are returning to the state to resume classes for the spring semester with mixed Covid-19 test results. In some instances, a relatively small number of Covid-19 cases have been identified such as at the University of Vermont with 15 positive cases out of 6,521 or .25 percent and Champlain College with “only a few cases,” per Levine.

In contrast, Norwich University in Northfield has seen a large outbreak with 80 cases to date. According to Levine, the VDH is working with Norwich campus administrators to examine case location and review prevention, quarantine housing and other safety protocols.

In K-12 schools throughout Vermont, there are 50 new Covid cases this week, up from 46 reported last week, with 425 total Covid cases reported as of Wednesday, Jan. 27, on the School Based Covid-19 Transmission document.

Education Secretary Dan French said surveillance testing results last week identified two positive cases among school staff last week, for a .08 positivity rate, well below the state average. This week’s testing has seen no new cases so far. Participation rates among school staff continues to hover around 40 percent.

There has been no decision to resume winter sports competition between schools. After allowing an increase of drills and team-based scrimmages in recent weeks, French said they were awaiting additional data before opening things further. Decisions about resuming music in schools is also being discussed with French saying he was “committed to finding a path forward” for music education and instruction but had no details.

Statewide testing of unique individuals averaged approximately 1,150, down slightly from 1,200 per day last week. Total tests given averaged 5,200 per day, down from 6,400 per day last week.

Chittenden County led the county case counts with 230, significantly down from 354 new cases reported last week, for a total of 4,003. Both Windsor and Windham counties, continued to show a decline from previous weeks. Windsor added 60 new cases, down from 89 new cases last week for a total of 827. Windham County added 46 new cases, down from 62 last week, for a total of 788. Bennington County continued on their upward trend adding 163 cases this week, up from 143 last week, for a total of 1027. Washington County, home of Northfield and Norwich University, added 119 new cases this week, up from 90 new cases last week, for a total of 1,200.

How, where to get the test

The Covid-19 testing schedule for Springfield has been updated with daily testing available from now through Sunday, Feb. 14 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 recently added a link to sign up to be notified of future testing dates in the area of your choice.

For more state-wide details on Covid-19 information and resources, click here and this week’s weekly data summary can be found here.

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