Covid Weekly Update: Record breaking spike reason for concern

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A record-breaking spike with over 1,257 positive Covid-19 cases this week has Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine saying that although there is reason for optimism in the near future, “when it comes to the present, frankly I am very concerned.”

The spike is largely concentrated in younger age groups with the median age of new cases at 27 according to Department of Financial Regulation Commissioner Mike Pieciak, who explained that 20-29 year old group were seeing a 50 percent increase in cases; and those in the 10-19 year old group saw a 100 percent rise. He pointed to the age span of 18- to 24-year-olds specifically as having the highest new case growth.

According to Levine, a big part of the latest surge is due to more easily transmissible variants, in particular, the UK variant that has been identified in Windham, Bennington, Rutland, Chittenden and Caledonia counties. He added however that behavioral factors, particularly with the younger demographic were also playing a roll. “Also our behaviors and the risks we either choose or not choose to assume at a time when variants become more dominant strain,” he said.

Despite the rise in case counts, Vermont officials announced that Adult Day Centers and Senior Centers, closed since November of 2020, may resume their group activities such as exercise, the arts and social groups. Widespread vaccination of those over 65 was credited for this decision along with benefits seniors get from access to healthy meals, exercise, and social interaction.

Reopening guidelines, which include health and safety measures such as wearing masks and physical distancing will continue at all centers and facilities, as will appropriate staff training. Each location will announce its own reopening dates and schedules based on its readiness. The details on guidance for individual senior centers can be found here.

Gov. Phil Scott’s promised timeline of steps for Vermont’s reemergence from the pandemic has been postponed until next week. Scott did not specify if the delay was a result of this week’s startling numbers.

Cases soar, positivity rate continues to climb; deaths decline

The Health Department reported this week that new Covid-19 cases continued to soar, hitting a record-setting seven-day high with 1,257 cases this week, up from 1,105 last week for a total of 19,755 since the beginning of the pandemic. Covid 19 deaths dropped from seven to four this week. The total number of Vermonters who have died from Covid-19 is now 228. Of those who lost their lives to Covid-19 this week, one was older than 80, one was between 70 and 79, one was between 60 and 69, and there was one death of a person between 40 and 49 years of age.

The overall seven-day positivity rate continued to rise, going from 1.7 percent last week to 2.1 percent this week. Hospitalizations continued to rise, going from 26 to 35. But the number of patients in intensive care dropped from four to two.

The total positive case numbers, deaths and other statistics are based on data published on the Health Department’s daily dashboard from Friday, March 26 through Friday, April 2.

State remains No. 1 for 65+ vaxx rate; 214,000 have gotten a jab or two

According to the Health Department, nearly 214,000 eligible Vermonters have received a vaccine: Almost 87,000 have received their first dose and nearly 127,000 have received both doses.

Vermont remains first in the nation with vaccinating 65 and older. Of those Vermonters 50 and older who were able to register for the vaccine on Monday, March 29, more than 27,800 have made an appointment which accounts for over 60 percent of that age group.

Over 80 percent of educators and child care staffers have either received a first dose or made an appointment.

Recent reports on problems with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, stemming from quality issues with a Baltimore supplier have not impacted doses promised to Vermont according to Levine.

Age band 40+ can begin registration on Monday, April 5 starting at 8:15 a.m.; age band 30+ can register on Monday, April 12; and age 16+ on Monday, April 19. 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. Kinney Drugs and CVS also continue to offer vaccines and can be scheduled either on their respective websites or through the state website.

Human Services Secretary Mike Smith again reminded Vermonters that if they receive a vaccine through a pharmacy partner yet have a different scheduled appointment through the state system to cancel the state vaccine slot so it can be given to someone else.

Rutland cases continue soar; local counts remain low

Windsor County added 56 new cases, doubling from last week’s report of 28, for a total of 1,208. Windham County added 47new cases, up from 31 new cases last week, for a total of 1,116.

Rutland County continued to see a surge with 171 cases, up from 144 reported last week for a total of 1,778. Bennington County added 56 cases, up slightly from 48 cases last week, for a total of 1,702.

Local town totals though still low, have seen an uptick with Chester reporting six new cases, up from three last week, Springfield also adding six, up from two. Ludlow stayed the same with four new cases and Cavendish added one case, up from no cases last week.

In K-12 schools throughout Vermont, there are 115 new Covid cases this week, continuing the upward trend from 96 last week, with 1106 total Covid cases reported on the School Based Covid-19 Transmission document as of Wednesday, March 31. Secretary of Education Dan French announced revised guidance for in school operations for the rest of the school year, including the revised distancing requirement of 3-feet, versus 6-feet for all grades K-12.

UVM reported a total of 80 student positive cases during the week of March 22 to 28, down from 93 reported the week prior.

The Covid-19 testing schedule for Springfield has been updated with daily testing available from now through Sunday, April 17 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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