Weekly Covid Update: State urges more masking as new positive rate smashes record 10,000 Vermont's 175,000 available test gone within hours

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The state hit a record single-day total of 2,975 cases this past week after glitches in the state Health Department website delayed recording positive case numbers. The new record-breaking weekly total smashed through the 10,000 barrier with 12,509 new cases, up from 7,884 the week before and nearly quadrupling weekly case numbers from a month ago. The overall total number of Covid cases in Vermont stands at 86,311 since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.

On Tuesday, Gov. Phil Scott and state health officials discussed the need for the recent shift in testing procedures at Vermont schools announced by the Vermont Agency of Education last week. The defining characteristics of the omicron variant are driving the decision, said Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine, since omicron is more highly contagious, has a shorter incubation period and spreads rapidly.

In response, the testing strategy has also evolved, with rapid antigen testing falling to parents, who can respond faster, keeping kids home from school and isolating those need to stay at home.

Contract tracing is also being redefined. Now with one positive case in a classroom, all students are considered close contacts. Tests will be distributed to those families and children must be tested daily. With a negative result, the testing should continue for five days before they go into school. If students do test positive, their isolation period begins immediately, following their test results or when symptoms appear.

Education Secretary Dan French said that the key variable for schools shifting to this new strategy will be testing supplies, saying schools should transition to this new strategy only when “they feel they have the supplies to do so.”

Kits available through the state were gone within hours of availability.

In response to Omicron’s high transmissibility, Levine recommended that Vermonters improve the quality of their masks, upgrading from a cloth or disposable mask to an N95 mask or layering a disposable mask under a cloth mask.

Scott announced the “Say Yes, Covid Test” pilot program for delivering 500,000 rapid tests, or 250,000 kits to Vermonters directly to their homes, in partnership with the National Institutes of Health and Amazon. Individuals were limited to two kits each, or four tests. Registration opened on Wednesday morning for 175,000 of the kits and all were claimed within a few hours. These test kits are not part of those being allocated for their new school testing initiative.

For more information on what to do if you or your child tests positive for Covid-19, visit this link.

All local towns hit new records

Chester’s Covid-19 numbers have hit another record, reporting 89 new infections in the past week, more than double the 40 cases last week which was the previous record. That brings Chester’s total to 517 for the entire pandemic, nearly 17 percent of residents, in a town of slightly more than 3,100 residents.

Ludlow’s new case total has also reached a new record with 50 new Covid cases, up from 33 last week, which had been a record. Cavendish jumped to a new record with 27 new cases, up from its prior high of 19 cases last week. Springfield numbers nearly tripled and also hit a new weekly record, with 161 new cases, a spike from 57 cases reported last week. Those community updates can be seen here.

Overall, new cases in Windsor County continued to spike with 435 cases reported, up from 413 last week. Windham County also jumped with 449 new cases, a large increase from 347 new cases last week.

Local testing sites

The availability of antigen testing kits and other testing opportunities continue to evolve, visit this link to get up-to-date information on test availability, locations and other information. The Health Department recommends making an appointment. The nearest sites for testing include:

Brattleboro, 417 Canal St., Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday from 2-6 p.m.

Rutland Regional Medical Center, 160 Allen St., Rutland, Monday through Friday 9 to 10 a.m. and 4 to 5:20 p.m., Saturday 10 to 11:50 a.m.

Springfield Health Center, 51 Pearl St., Level 2, Springfield, Monday Tuesday, Friday 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Wednesday 8-11 a.m., Saturday 8 a.m.– noon.

Back in session, school cases start to rise

The reported school numbers from Vermont’s Health Department website, dated Jan. 10, showed:

  • One new case, 16 in total at Chester-Andover Elementary;
  • no new cases and eight in total at Ludlow Elementary School;
  • five new cases and 26 in total at Green Mountain High;
  • one new case, four in total reported at Cavendish Town Elementary School.

In Springfield: Five new cases and 26 in total have been reported at Riverside Middle School; Elm Hill shows zero new cases, 32 in total; Union Street School is showing two new cases in this past week, 34 in total; Springfield High School showed one new case, 19 in total and River Valley Tech showed zero new cases, one overall.

Total statewide K-12 numbers reported 322 new Covid cases with 3,610 since the school year began.

Deaths remain steady; hospitalizations and positivity hit records

Deaths from Covid  held steady again this week, with 11 reported statewide, matching last week, and bringing the total to 493 Vermonters having died from Covid since the pandemic began. Of the most recent deaths, six were over 80 years old, two were age 70 to 79, one was age 60 to 69, and two were age 50 to 59.

Hospitalizations hit the 100 mark this week, up from 84 last week, with the record 101 reported on Monday. The number of people in intensive care also increased from 14 to 24. Positivity percentage rate climbed from 12.6 percent to 13.4 percent, also hitting a new record.

In this report, the total positive case numbers, deaths and other statistics are based on data captured from Friday, Jan. 7 to Friday, Jan. 14, published on the Health Department’s Case Dashboard.

Vaxx rates stagnate for local counties

Vermont remains a national leader for vaccination rates across most categories. Vaccination rates for ages 12+ stand at 97.8 percent of eligible Vermonters having received at least one dose of vaccine, up from 97.2 percent last week. Windsor County’s vaccination rate was reported as 83 percent this week, although it had reported 84 percent the week before. Windham County has remained steady at 84 percent for the third week in a row. For vaccination details, visit the Vaccine Dashboard.

Vermont leads the nation for vaccination of 5-11 year olds with 58.6 percent of young Vermonters who have started the process.

Boosters are now available for Vermonters over age of 12. Parents can register their children for the booster online now. Children ages 16 and 17 can now get their booster shot as soon as five months after the second dose.

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

Friday, Jan. 14

Bellows Falls Fire Dept, 170 Rockingham St., Bellows Falls, 3-5 p.m. (12+)

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

Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, 17 Belmont Ave., Brattleboro, 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (12+)

Saturday, Jan. 15

Brattleboro Union High School, Brattleboro, 10 a.m.- 1 p.m. (12+)

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

Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, 17 Belmont Ave., Brattleboro, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. (12+), 1:30-5:30 p.m. (5-11)

Sunday, Jan. 16

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

Monday, Jan. 17

Mt. Ascutney Hospital, Prof. Bldg, 289 County Rd., Windsor, 9 -11:30 a.m. (12+)

Tuesday, Jan. 18

EMS Clinic, Leland and Grey Union High School, Townshend, 2-5 p.m. (5-11) and (12+)

Diamond Run Mall, Rutland, 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. (5-11) and (12+)

Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, 17 Belmont Ave., Brattleboro, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (12+)

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

Brattleboro VFW, 40 Black Mountain Road, Brattleboro, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. (5-11) and (12+)

Hartford District Office, 118 Prospect St., WRJ, 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. (12+), 2-4 p.m. (5-11)

Wednesday, Jan. 19

Mt. Holly School, Mt. Holly, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. (5-11)

Riverside Middle School, Springfield, 10:30 a.m.- 1 p.m. (12+)

Fair Haven High School, Fair Haven, 4-6 p.m. (12+)

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

Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, 17 Belmont Ave., Brattleboro, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (12+)

Thursday, Jan. 20

Brattleboro Union High School, Brattleboro, 4 – 6 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, 17 Belmont Ave., Brattleboro, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (12+)

Hartford District Office, 118 Prospect St., WRJ, 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. (12+), 2-4 p.m. (5-11)

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

Friday, Jan. 21

Green Mountain Union High School, Chester, 1 – 4 p.m. (5-11) and (12+)

Westminster Armory, 23 Armory Lane, Westminster, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. (12+)

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

Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, 17 Belmont Ave., Brattleboro, 9 a.m.- 5:30 p.m. (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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