State tightens vaxx requirement for employees; AOE extends school masking til Oct. 4

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In an ongoing effort to bring the Covid-19 under control, Gov. Phil Scott have announced updated pandemic controls for both state employees and public schools.

State employees, Scott said, will be required to be vaccinated against Covid-19, mirroring the recent mandate issued by President Joe Biden for all federal employees. In Vermont, state employees must attest to receiving a vaccination as of Sept. 15 or face weekly testing and mandated masking indoors.

And Vermont Agency of Education Secretary Dan French announced that schools will continue the mask mandates through Oct. 4 until they “better understand where the virus is heading.” AOE’s initial recommendation was to mandate masks through the first two weeks of classes, lifting them once a school hits an 80 percent vaccination rate.

School masking extended, student vaxx incentive program coming

French said that schools continue to be challenged by the higher transmissibility of the delta variant and, as they are seeing increased community virus activity, Vermonters shouldn’t be surprised to see a rise cases in schools as well.

In the two weeks since Vermont schools have been in session — many for less than one week — 81 positive cases have been reported in schools, 40 in the last week, according to a Vermont K-12 tracking document dated Sept. 6.

French also announced that incentives are being planned to encourage students to get vaccinated, utilizing federal grant funds to push vaccination rates of 80 percent or more that would trigger elimination of the mask mandates in each school. The incentive program, the details of which will be announced in the coming weeks, will allow student input on how grant funds are spent in their schools. French said they expect to launch the program in October with a goal to encourage student vaccines before winter sets in.

Four more deaths; two from Cedar Hill in Windsor

Fhe state has reported four more Covid-19 deaths over the past week, including two that were attributed to Cedar Hill nursing home in Windsor, according to The Valley News. The four deaths this week was down slightly from five reported last week, for a total of 284 deaths. Three of those who died were over 80 years old and one was age 70 to 79.

Positive cases stayed above the 1,000 threshold for the second week in a row, while showing a slight decline with 1,032 new positive Covid-19 cases reported this week, down from 1,055 last week. The Vermont total now stands at 29,735 since the beginning of the pandemic.

Currently, 30 people are hospitalized with Covid-19, down slightly from 31 last week. The number of people in intensive care dropped slightly from 11 to nine. The positivity rate jumped however from 2.6 percent to 3.2 percent this week.

Windsor County has seen a jump this week with 92 new Covid-19 cases reported, versus 70 cases in the past week. Windham County also saw an increase of 96 new cases, up from 81 last week.

State criticized for lack of transparency on case totals;
area towns continue to see rise in Covid numbers

State officials faced criticism this week for lack of transparency since some daily positive case totals being added to daily totals after the fact. State Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said that cases received later in the day were added to their correct date within a 24-hour period in order to keep accurate data but said they were working to correct the issue.

In this report, the total positive case numbers, deaths and other statistics are based on data from Friday, Sept. 3 to Friday Sept. 10, published on the Health Department’s daily dashboard.

Local town numbers have continued to rise with cases reported this past week at 34, up from 22 last week, including: 11 in Springfield, down from 12; nine cases in Chester, up from four; nine cases in Ludlow, up from four; and five cases in Cavendish, up from two. Those community updates can be seen here.

Vermont continues to lead the nation in vaccination rate. 86.7 percent of eligible Vermonters have received at least one dose of vaccine, up from 86.3 percent last week. Windsor County’s vaccination rate is currently at 78.5 percent up from 78.3 percent last week and Windham County’s rate has risen to 80.3 percent, up from 80 percent last week. For vaccination details, visit Vermont’s vaccination dashboard.

Local vaccine clinics now with regular weekly hours

  • Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, 53 Fairview St., Brattleboro; 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday.
  • Springfield Medical Care Systems, 51 Pearl St. Level 2, Springfield; 8-11 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • Springfield Vermont Department of Health Office, 100 Mineral St., Springfield; 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday.
  • White River Junction Vermont Department of Health Office, 118 Prospect St., White River Junction, 1 to 4 p.m. Thursday.

Nearest walk-up clinics

Friday, Sept. 10

  • School Clinic: Bellows Falls Union High School, Westminster, 2-8 p.m.
  • Hartford Block Party, 171 Bridge St., Hartford, 5-7 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 13

  • School Clinic: Woodstock High School, Woodstock, 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 14

  • Brattleboro Health Care & Rehabilitation Services, 15 Fairview St., Brattleboro, 3-6 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 15

  • School Clinic: Brattleboro Union High School, Brattleboro, 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.
  • Putney Fire Dept, 14 Main St., Putney, 3-7 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 16

  • Springfield Health Care & Rehabilitation Services, 390 River St., Springfield, 3-7 p.m.

For details on these events or all vaccination clinics throughout the state, Click Here. Walgreens continues to offer vaccinations and Vermonters can register directly on its website or through the state website.

When making an appointment through the state’s website, options include clinics run by the Health Department, the National Guard, health care partners, Costco, Hannaford, Price Chopper, Rite-Aid, Shaw’s and Walmart.

Rite-Aid in both Ludlow and Springfield are offering walk-in vaccines. Only larger Shaw’s stores that have pharmacies are participating in the vaccination program, which means that neither the Ludlow nor Springfield location is participating.

To register for a vaccination and see your many options, visit the Vermont Health Department website or call 855-722-7878.

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