Weekly update: Vermont Covid numbers decline but post-holiday surge expected Take-home, onsite tests offered during pre-New Year's week

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With a weekly update that does not include numbers from Friday, Dec. 24, Vermont’s new Covid-19 cases have shown a decline this past week with a weekly total of 2,456 infections recorded as of Thursday, down from 2,752 cases last week, including data from last Friday.

Although this data shows a decline of nearly 300 cases, in a week where the daily case total has been upwards of 400 cases, this number is likely not a true decline. The Vermont overall Covid case total now stands at 60,265 cases since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.

Mike Pieciak of the state Department of Financial Regulation, said on Tuesday that Covid cases are expected to rise dramatically following the holidays.  Mimicking the pattern from last year — and with the more contagious and fast-moving Omicron variant — Vermont health officials expect to see daily increases in cases around 600 per day on average and as high as 1,000 per day if it’s a heavy reporting day. Nationally, per the Centers for Disease Control, 73.2 percent of cases are the Omicron variant, though New England is currently only seeing 37.7 percent. In the long run,  Pieciak expects to see Vermont match those other regions.

Heath Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine again stressed the importance of receiving a booster saying individuals were not fully protected without it. He also suggested some guidelines for holiday gatherings including limiting gathering size to smaller groups; making sure everyone is vaccinated and ideally boosted and asking guests their status; using masks indoors particularly if the guest range widely in age; and testing before and after your gathering.

Chester cases have dropped

Community numbers were updated and reflect a full week’s worth of data showing that Chester’s Covid-19 numbers have dropped significantly, reporting just 12 infections in the past week, well down from the record 39 new cases last week. That brings Chester’s total to 372 for the entire pandemic, in a town of slightly more than 3,100.

Springfield reported 78 cases this week, continuing their decline, down 104 reported last week. Ludlow reported seven new cases this week, just up from five last week. Cavendish reported six new cases, down from seven cases last week. Those community updates can be seen here.

New cases in Windsor County also continued to decline with 185 cases this week, down from 337 reported last week. Windham County also showed a decline with 153 new cases reported, down from 236 reported last week. County numbers did not include numbers for Friday, Dec. 24.

Local sites with take-home antigen tests and holiday testing

As part of a strategy for helping to curb a holiday surge, Vermont has begun distributing a total of 96,000 antigen take-home tests between now and New Year’s.

Tests that were allocated for Thursday and given on a first come, first serve basis, totaling about 25,000 ran out within the first few hours. An additional 30,000 were distributed this morning, Dec. 24, also first come, first served.

The closest local distribution site for antigen take-home tests is located in White River Junction at the Agency of Transportation, 223 Beswick Drive.

Additional tests will be provided on Dec. 28 and 29 at 8 a.m. until gone.

There are also special Covid-19 testing sites that are being set up on Thursday, Dec. 30. Anyone with an appointment can get tested at these sites. The appointment will say “TAKE HOME TESTING ONLY.” An NAAT test called a LAMP test will be used at these sites.

Rutland, 275 Stratton Road, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Rutland at Rutland Regional Medical Center, 160 Allen St. from 9-10 a.m. and 4-6 p.m.

Springfield at Springfield Health Center, 51 Pearl St., Level 2, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Windsor at 289 County Rd. from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 1:10-4 p.m.

Appointments for Dec. 30 in Brattleboro have already been filled. To see the full list of these Dec. 30 sites, click here.

Dec. 28 & 29 – White River Junction, Agency of Transportation, 223 Beswick Drive, 8 a.m. until gone.

Local schools see little rise in cases

The reported  school numbers from Vermont’s Health Department website, dated Dec. 20, showed:

  • No new cases, 15 in total at Chester-Andover Elementary;
  • no new cases and eight in total at Ludlow Elementary School;
  • one new case and 18 in total at Green Mountain High;
  • one new case, three in total reported at Cavendish Town Elementary School.

In Springfield: One new case and 20 in total have been reported at Riverside Middle School (was 21 in total prior to this latest addition); Elm Hill shows zero new cases, 32 in total; Union Street School is showing two new cases in this past week, 32 in total; Springfield High School showed three new cases, 17 in total; and River Valley Tech showed zero new cases, one in total (was two in total prior).

Total statewide K-12 numbers reported 278 new Covid cases with 3,003 since the school year began.

Deaths are down; hospitalizations, positivity continue to decline

Vermont Covid deaths have dropped with just nine deaths reported from last Friday through Thursday. Although they did not include data from Friday, Dec. 24, this number is significantly down from 22 deaths reported last week, bringing the total to 460. Of the most recent deaths, two were over 80 years old, three were age 70 to 79, three were age 60 to 69, and one was age 30 to 39.

Currently, 53 people are hospitalized with Covid-19, down from 60 reported last week. The number of people in intensive care has decreased from 19 to 17. The positivity rate also decreased from 4.4 to 4.3 percent. These numbers do not include any data from Friday, Dec. 24.

Mike Smith, Vermont Secretary of the Agency of Human Services said that the availability of hospital beds and ICU beds had increased in recent weeks but those numbers are likely to reverse after the holidays. In anticipation of the holidays, 30 FEMA staff have arrived to support hospital staffers and six teams (three from FEMA and 3 EMS teams) have arrived to assist in distribution monoclonal antibodies.

In this report, the total positive case numbers, deaths and other statistics are based on data from Friday, Dec. 17, to Friday Dec. 24, published on the  Health Department’s Case Dashboard Over 23,000 Vermont kids signed up for vaxx

Also on Tuesday, Smith said 23,317 Vermont students in the 5 to 11 age range have received or have signed up to get the newly approved Pfizer vaccine, which is roughly 53 percent of that population.

Parents must have made an appointment for their child to receive the vaccine. Appointments for both the school-based and state-run clinics can be made at  healthvermont.gov/KidsVaccine or by calling 855-722-7878. Families may need to add their child as a dependent in the registration system.

Vermont remains a national leader for vaccination rates across most categories. Vaccination rates for ages 12+ stand at 96.1 percent of eligible Vermonters having received at least one dose of vaccine, up from 95.2 percent last week. Windsor County now has an 83 percent vaccination rate up from 82 percent last week, while Windham County remains the same at 83 percent. For vaccination details, visit the Vaccine Dashboard.

Boosters are now available for Vermonters over age of 16. Only 45.4 percent of those eligible have gotten their booster so far which is “good progress but a long way to go,” according to Pieciak.

To schedule your booster shot, check for availability at walk-in vaccine locations below or check for 
clinics by appointment by clicking here. You can also make an 
appointment on line here.

Nearest stores and pharmacies offering vaccines

Nearest walk-up clinics and by-appointment clinics for children

Monday, Dec. 27

Greater Falls Pharmacy, 78 Atkinson St., Bellows Falls, 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (12+)

Diamond Run Mall, Rutland, 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (5-11) and (12+)

Tuesday, Dec. 28

Riverside Middle School, Springfield, 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (5-11) and (12+)

Brattleboro VFW, 40 Black Mountain Road, Brattleboro 9 a.m.-3 p.m. (12+)

Grace Cottage Hospital, 133 Grafton Road, Townshend, 8 a.m.-noon (12+)

Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, 53 Fairview St., Brattleboro, 9 a.m.-12:35 p.m. (12+)

Community Health Pediatrics, 1 General Wing Rd., Rutland, 4-7 p.m. (5-11)

Wednesday, Dec. 29

Greater Falls Pharmacy, 78 Atkinson St., Bellows Falls, 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (12+)

Diamond Run Mall, Rutland, 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (5-11) and (12+)

Rutland Regional Medical Center, 160 Allen St., Rutland, 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. (12+)

Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, 53 Fairview St., Brattleboro, 9 a.m.-12:35 p.m. (12+)

Thursday, Dec. 30

Hartford High School, WRJ, 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (5-11) and (12+)

Rutland Regional Medical Center, 160 Allen St., Rutland, 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. (12+)

Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, 53 Fairview St., Brattleboro, 9 a.m.-12:35 p.m. (12+)

Asa Boomer State Bldg, 88 Merchants Row, Rutland, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. (12+)

Friday, Dec. 31

Rutland Regional Medical Center, 160 Allen St., Rutland, 7:30 a.m.-noon (12+)

Rutland Regional Ambulance, 275 Stratton Road, Rutland, 10 a.m.-noon (12+)

For details on all vaccination locations or to schedule an appointment, visit Vermont Health Department website or call 855-722-7878.

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