Weekly Covid Update: Emergency order extended; Chester, Ludlow to get vaxx clinics

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Gov. Phil Scott extended Vermont’s state of emergency through mid-April in the state’s ongoing efforts to coordinate Covid-19 mitigation efforts, even as he announced additional loosening of restrictions for household gatherings and in the restaurant sector, and anticipates accelerated timelines for Vermont vaccination tiers.

Meanwhile, the state also announced today that vaccination clinics have been added in Chester, Ludlow and Rockingham, as well as Grand Isle. The Vermont Department of Health could not provide specifics on any of those locations on Friday.  According to the Vermont Agency of Human Services, the clinics will be located in the Chester Dental Center, the Ludlow Dental Center and the Rockingham Health Center. Registration should be made through the state website as usual.

Secretary Mike Smith announced today that Chester, Ludlow and Rockingham will all get vaccine clinics.

On Friday, Scott announced newly expanded gathering guidelines, now allowing for two non-vaccinated, trusted households to gather together. Households can also gather with different trusted households, just not at the same time. In addition, “kids can have play dates again,” which will be good for the mental and emotional health of both kids and parents, said Scott.

Restaurants may now allow for up to six people from two unvaccinated households to sit together. All other restaurant guidelines — masking, distancing, capacity limits, and other guidelines — are still in place.

Scott did indicate that Vermonters can expect more “turns of the spigot” next week and hinted at changes to bars being among them.

Vaxx registration to return to age band hierarchy

Both groups within Phase 5 — for Vermonters with high risk health conditions — are now allowed to register for a vaccine. Age 55+ of that group began registering on Monday, March 8. The second half– ages 16-54 — was allowed to register beginning on Thursday, March 11, several days ahead of their original schedule. A list of health conditions included under Phase 5 can be found herePhase 5 recipients, totaling about 75,000 Vermonters, are not required to contact their health care provider to obtain documentation of their condition.

Vermont educators and school staff began registering for their vaccines on Monday. “Regulated childcare pre-school and after school program” providers, specifically who have direct contact with children, were given the green light to register for their vaccine ahead of their original March 15 date.

Registration through the state website can be made online by clicking here or by calling 855-722-7878.

Walgreens will continue to offer vaccinations and Vermonters can register directly on its website or through the state website. CVS Pharmacy locations in Barre and Morrisville have also begun offering vaccines. You can register either through the state’s website or on the CVS website. Other CVSes will begin vaccinations as allocations increase through the federal retail pharmacy program.

Restaurants may now allow for up to six people from different households to sit together.

Now that Phase 5, educators, and child care personnel have all been approved to receive the vaccine, Scott said the state will revert back to a hierarchy based on age bands for the next phases. Next week, Scott will release a timeline for all remaining age bands, with an expectation they will exceed President Biden’s recently announced directive to have all citizens vaccinated, with at least their first dose, by May 1.

Human Services Secretary Mike Smith said that he anticipates the age 60+ sector will likely be approved for registration at the end of March. Both Scott and Smith said these goals were contingent upon vaccine dose allocations received from the federal government.

Scott announced that anticipated doses from Johnson & Johnson had been delayed, receiving just 500 doses this week, with none expected next week. He did say that the federal government said Vermont would receive 4,000 to 5,000 doses of J&J by the end of the month.

According to the Health Department, close to 139,000 eligible Vermonters have received a vaccine: Nearly 65,000 have received their first dose and 74,000 both doses. One in four Vermonters are now vaccinated with at least one dose of vaccine.

Scott also announced that at the end of April, the state will release an “exit strategy” and timeline for “returning to normal” targeting a July 4 date.

Case rates down; deaths up

The Health Department also announced this week that new Covid-19 cases have returned to a downward trend reporting 804 cases, down from the 856 tallied last week, for a total of 16,623 since the beginning of the pandemic. Death numbers from Covid-19 have increased, going from three to five. The total number of Vermonters who have died from Covid-19 is now 212. Of those who lost their lives to Covid-19 this week, two were older than 80, one fatality was between 70 and 79, one between 60 and 69, and one recorded death was between 40 and 49.

Hospitalizations were down this week from 26 to 24. The number of patients in intensive held steady at four. The overall seven-day positivity rate also ticked down, going from 1.6 percent last week to 1.5 percent this week.

The total positive case numbers, deaths and other statistics are based on data published on the Health Department’s daily dashboard from Friday, March 5 through Friday, March 12.

The first confirmed case of the of the UK variant
in Vermont was reported earlier this week.

The first confirmed case of the of the UK variant in Vermont was reported earlier this week. On Tuesday, Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said it was expected based on detection in Burlington wastewater. Levine said that all available vaccines are effective against the UK variant, which is known to be more highly contagious than the current one.

Windham County added 37 new cases, up sharply from 16 new cases last week, for a total of 1,006. Windsor County added 25 new cases, down from the 36 reported last week, for a total of 1,095. Bennington County added 56 cases, up slightly from 47 cases last week, for a total of 1,536.

In K-12 schools throughout Vermont, there are 60 new Covid cases this week, three times the number from last week, with 728 total Covid cases reported as of Wednesday, March 10, on the School Based Covid-19 Transmission document.

The Covid-19 testing schedule for Springfield has been updated with daily testing available from now through Sunday, March 27 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. 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.

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