Weekly Covid Update: Youth sports to restart without spectators; new vaxx sites at Grace Cottage, Mount Ascutney hospitals

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Gov. Phil Scott announced the resumption of youth sports competition between schools, including interscholastic teams and youth leagues, for basketball, hockey, indoor soccer and football, broomball and volleyball, to begin next Friday, Feb. 12 with additional safety measures including no spectators, the masking mandate expanding to referees and no more than two games a week among other restrictions.

A full description of the specific details will be available state’s website by the end of the day on Monday.

Meanwhile, Agency of Human Services Secretary Mike Smith said the state was adding several vaccination clinics throughout the state including several locally, including Grace Cottage in Townshend this week and Mount Ascutney Hospital in Windsor next week.

Also, Smith said that 58,219 Vermonters have received at least one of of the two-shot vaccines, including 21 percent of the 75+ age group.

On Tuesday, Scott said Vermont is receiving 22 percent more vaccine doses per week from the federal government than its previous allocation and that the state can count on the increased doses for the next three weeks.

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

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

Positivity rate drops to 1.8% of those tested; Bennington Co. sees outbreak

From Friday, Jan. 29 through Friday, Feb. 5, the state Department of Health recorded 954 new Covid-19 cases this week, up from the 899 tallied last week for a total of 12,612. The death toll from Covid-19 has also increased versus the week before, going from three to nine deaths for a total of 181.

Hospitalizations still remain high with 55 this week, along with a record 17 patients in the ICU. Although this week’s hospitalization numbers seemed to decrease from the 57 reported on Friday, Jan. 29, there was a record 64 hospitalizations reported on Tuesday before that number dropped again.

You can find more details on the state’s daily dashboard.

Despite this slight uptick in some numbers, the positivity rate continued to decline for the fifth week in a row, dropping from 2 percent last week to 1.8 percent this week.

Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine cited an overall downward seven-day average trending throughout most of the state, with Bennington County reportedly driving many of the state’s numbers now.

On Tuesday, Michael Pieciak, commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulation, cited several concerning trends state health officials were seeing in Bennington County including a disproportionately high percentage of active cases, sustained growth since early December, and an increase in hospitalizations, partly due to its aging demographic.

On Friday, Levine said the state’s data teams have not pinpointed any one cause for the spread in Bennington County but said its Covid case data looks much more like adjoining New York state counties than those in Vermont and that there are a percentage of New York residents who work and receive health care in Bennington area. Levine also said that out-of-state ski business accounts for some of the cases as well, with impacts of spread to restaurants or worksites. In response, Levine said they were increasing testing throughout the area within the community and with the cooperation of several ski areas.

School-based cases continue to rise

In K-12 schools throughout Vermont, there are 58 new Covid cases this week, up from 50 reported last week, with 487 total Covid cases reported as of Wednesday, Feb. 3, on the  School Based Covid-19 Transmission document.

Vermont colleges and universities saw 65 new Covid cases this week, across all campuses. The total number of cases from the recent outbreak at Norwich University stands at 94. According to Levine, the state’s Outbreak Response and Prevention team continues to work continues to work with Norwich campus administrators with containment as the goal.

Statewide testing of unique individuals averaged approximately 1,150 per day, the same as last week. Total tests given averaged approximately 5,200 per day, also holding steady from the previous week.

The Covid-19 testing schedule for Springfield has been updated with daily testing available from now through Sunday, Feb. 21 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.

Windsor added 68 new cases, up from 60 new cases last week, for a total of 895. Windham County added 30 new cases, down from 46 last week, for a total of 818.

Both Levine and Scott urged Vermonters to continue to adhere to the current single household gathering guidelines during the upcoming Super Bowl game on Sunday, reminding Vermonters that the surge experienced in early November was the result of multi-household gatherings on Halloween.

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