Weekly Covid Update: Schools with 80% vaxx rate can drop mask requirements

A mother helps her daughter put on a face mask. Photo by August de Richelieu.

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With overall Covid-19 numbers continuing to decline, Gov. Phil Scott announced that as of Monday, Feb. 28,  state guidance will allow schools to end mask requirements if they have achieved an 80 percent vaccination rate. He went on to add that this was just a first step and that “in the very near future, if all goes to plan, we intend to recommend lifting the mask requirement altogether.”

Scott said that Vermont children need to get back to normal and that not seeing the faces of their friends plus the anxiety and ongoing strain on their mental health helped guide the state’s decision.

New weekly case totals continued to fall, with 1,710 reported, down from 2,279 last week. The overall total number of Covid cases in Vermont stands at 110,679 since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. Hospitalizations, percent positivity and the death rate showed declines.

Hospitalizations dropped from 80 to 57 this week. The number of people in intensive care also decreased from 20 to 12. The positivity percentage rate continued its drop from 7.6 percent to 5.5 percent.

Deaths from Covid ticked upward however, with 17 new deaths reported statewide, up from 13 last week. The total number of Vermonters who have died from Covid now stands at 566. Of the most recent deaths, 10 were over 80 years old, four were age 70 to 79, and three were 60 to 69. Despite this slight increase in deaths, Commissioner Michael Pieciak, of the Financial Regulation Department, said he expects deaths to show a decline in the next few weeks.

On Tuesday, Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said that as the state continues to move deliberately into the next phase of managing coexisting with the virus, more of the Health Department’s focus will be on those who are at higher risk. He said that Vermonters will all need to weigh personal risks and decide which protections make sense but encouraged people to use medical data and science-based information in doing so. He also encouraged tolerance of other’s choices. “We all need to accept these individual choices with empathy and without judgement,” he said.

In this report, the total positive case numbers, deaths and other statistics are based on data captured from Friday, Feb. 11 to Friday, Feb. 18, published on the Health Department’s Case Dashboard.

Chester and Springfield up slightly, along with Windsor County

Chester’s Covid-19 numbers showed a slight increase this week, with 11 new cases reported, up from eight cases last week. That brings Chester’s total to 634 for the entire pandemic, over 20 percent of residents, in a town of slightly more than 3,100 residents.

Ludlow’s new case total held steady with five cases reported this week, even with from five last week. Cavendish continued to show a decline with one new case, down from three last week. Springfield showed a slight increase with 38 new cases, up from 32 cases reported last week. Those community updates can be seen here.

Overall, new cases in Windsor County were up slightly with 90 cases reported, an increase from 80 last week. Windham County continued with their decline showing 39 new cases, down from 56 cases last week.

Local schools post 12 new cases in recent weeks

The Two Rivers Supervisory Union has added a document to its website that tracks Covid cases in each of the local schools in the district since the beginning of January when students returned to school from the holiday break. You can find that document here.

The document was updated in the past week although some cases were attributed to the week prior. New cases reported in the district schools:

  • Chester-Andover Elementary School has reported eight new cases, 46 in total since January;
  • Green Mountain Union Middle/High School has two new cases, 67 in total;
  • Cavendish Elementary has no new cases, seven in total;
  • Ludlow Elementary has reported two new cases, nine in total;
  • Mount Holly School has no new cases, 12 in total since January term began.

On Tuesday, Agency of Education Secretary Dan French announced he was providing for a new testing opportunity to help schools as students return from vacation after the President’s vacation week coming up. Prior to vacation, the state has provided two rapid antigen tests for students to take home and is encouraging students to test twice, in the consecutive two days before coming back to school. Tests are voluntary and not required to come back to school however.

French also announce the start of the School Staff Assurance Testing Program, which will provide two antigen tests each week to school staff that would like them. The AOE recommends the tests be taken three days apart.

Test kits and local testing sites

The availability of antigen testing kits and other testing opportunities continues 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 5:10 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.

Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center, 289 County Road, Windsor, Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Starting Feb. 21: Monday 1-4 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Friday 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and 1-4 p.m.

Carlos Otis Stratton Mountain Clinic, 78 Founder’s Hill Road, Stratton, Monday, Wednesday, Friday 8-11 a.m.

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

State vaxx rates now including data on those ‘up-to-date’

The state has updated its vaccine dashboard, now showing how many Vermonters, age 5 and older are up-to-date on all their eligible vaccines including boosters. The percentage of Vermonters age five and older who have received all recommended vaccines, stands at just 58 percent. Age five and older that received one dose stands at 87 percent. There was no update for the vaccination rates for ages 12 and up with at least one dose, which last week stood at 99.6 percent.

Windsor County’s vaccination rate for those 5 and older with one dose was stagnant, stubbornly remaining at 84 percent. Windham County’s vaccination number also remained at 86 percent. For vaccination details, visit the Vaccine Dashboard.

Boosters are available for Vermonters over the 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, Feb. 18

Bellows Falls Fire Dept., 170 Rockingham St. Bellows Falls, 4-6 p.m. (12+)

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

Saturday, Feb. 19

Weathersfield School, 135 Schoolhouse Rd., Ascutney, 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. (5-11) and (12+)

Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, 17 Belmont Ave., Brattleboro, 9 a.m. – noon. (5-11)

Monday, Feb. 21

Sam’s Steakhouse, 91 VT Route 103, Ludlow, 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. (5-11) and (12+)

Mt. Ascutney Hospital, Prof. Building Lower Level, 289 Country Rd., Windsor, 9-11:30 a.m. (12+)

Tuesday, Feb. 22

Riverside Middle School, 13 Fairgrounds Road, Springfield, 10:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. (12+)

Woodstock High School, 100 Amsden Way, Woodstock, 4-6 p.m. (12+)

Springfield Town Library, 43 Main Street, Springfield, 3-5 p.m. (12+)

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

Diamond Run Mall, 46 Diamond Run, Rutland, 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. (12+)

Brattleboro VFW, 40 Black Mountain Road, Brattleboro, 3-6 p.m. (5-11) and (12+)

Community Health Pediatrics, 1 General Wing Road, Rutland, 4-7 p.m. (5-11) and (12+)

Wednesday, Feb. 23

Brattleboro Union High School, Brattleboro, 4:30-6:30 p.m. (12+)

Londonderry Rescue, 6069 VT Route 100, Londonderry, 10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. (5-11) and (12+)

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

Thursday, Feb. 24

Chester American Legion, 635 VT Route 103, Chester, 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Hartford High School, 37 Highland Ave, Hartford, 4-6 p.m. (12+)

Mount Snow, 39 Mount Snow Road, Dover, 10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. (5-11) and (12+)

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

Friday, Feb. 25

Fair Haven High School, 33 Mechanic St., Fair Haven, 4-6 p.m. (12+)

Putney Fire Dept., 14 Main St., Putney, 10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. (5-11) and (12+)

Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, 17 Belmont Ave., Brattleboro, 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. c

Diamond Run Mall, 46 Diamond Run, Rutland, 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. (5-11) and (12+)

Royalton Town Office, 2460 VT Route 14, S. Royalton, 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. (12+)

Vaxx locations are being added regularly. 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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Filed Under: Cases reportedCovid 19 CoverageLatest NewsSouthern Vermont activityWeekly Covid Update

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