Weekly Covid Update: State lifts mask recommendation March 14 Vermont vaccination rates stagnate

Mask use will be up to individuals on March 14. Photo by Ryutaro Tsukata from Pexels.

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On Thursday, Gov. Phil Scott and Vermont health officials announced that Covid-19 public health guidance for masks will be lifted and isolation/quarantining recommendations will be simplified beginning Monday, March 14.

The statewide mask recommendation for schools and all Vermonters is being lifted completely on that date. According to Vermont State Epidemiologist Dr. Patsy Kelso, who spoke on behalf of Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine, the decision to wear a mask will be up to each person based on his individual health concerns and needs.

Isolation and quarantine guidelines will also be simplified as of March 14. Those who test positive should stay home and isolate for five days. Close contacts who are not up-to-date on their vaccines do not need to quarantine but should get tested. If they develop symptoms at any time, they should also get tested.

The state will continue to urge Vermonters to stay up-to-date on vaccines and boosters, continue to conduct ongoing surveillance to look for disease trends, monitor outbreaks with vulnerable populations and watch for new variants. If a new variant emerges that becomes a cause for concern, the Vermont Department of Health will revisit public health guidance, which may include new recommendations for masking, isolation, quarantining, testing and vaccinations.

Dr. Kelso said that the Department of Health, following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, will shift focus from case counts, instead placing greater emphasis on serious outcomes such as new hospitalizations and overall Covid-related stress on hospital capacity.

New weekly case totals continued to fall, with 1,084 reported this week, down from 1,344 last week. The overall total number of Covid cases in Vermont stands at 113,107 since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. Hospitalizations, percent positivity and the death rate also showed declines.

Hospitalizations dropped from 35 to 32 this week. The number of people in intensive care ticked up from 5 to 6. The positivity percentage rate also continued its drop from 4.8 percent to 4.6 percent.

Deaths from Covid have held steady with 12 new deaths reported statewide, the same as last week. The total number of Vermonters who have died from Covid now stands at 607. Of the most recent deaths, eight were over 80 years old; three were age 70 to 79, and one was age 60 to 69.

In this report, the total positive case numbers, deaths and other statistics are based on data captured from Friday, Feb. 25 to Friday, March 4, published on the Health Department’s Case Dashboard.

All towns show low/lower numbers

Chester reported three new cases this week, a one-case uptick from two last week. That brings Chester’s total to 639 for the entire pandemic, over 20 percent of residents, in a town of slightly more than 3,100 residents.

Springfield showed a large drop in their numbers with 46 new cases this week, down from 81 cases last week. Ludlow’s new case number held steady with two cases, mirroring last week. Cavendish had no new cases reported, down from one last week. Those community updates can be seen here.

For Windsor County and Windham County numbers, the Health Department dashboard adjusted county numbers with a backlog of cases that had been unassigned to a county, resulting in inflated gains over this past week.  Bennett Truman, spokesman for the Health Department, said, “A large number of cases that had previously not been assigned to a specific county due to the surge were recently assigned. They are not newly reported cases. They had already been included in the dashboard (daily new case numbers) on the day they were reported (i.e. statewide data) So, while the totals for individual counties did increase, it does not indicate a surge in cases in a particular county, nor does it affect the overall case counts in Vermont.”

Truman said 935 cases were added to Windsor County totals, and 906 were added to Windham County. Even adjusting for these allocations, Windsor and Windham  numbers seemed sharply inflated: with 192 cases in Windsor County this week, up from 93 cases last week; and 132 cases in Windham County this week, well up from 30 cases last week. Given this latest adjustment to the dashboard numbers, true county-side surges seem unlikely.

TRSU document was not updated again this week

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 students returned to school from holiday break in early January. You can find that document here.

The document was not updated since last Friday due to President’s week vacation.

  • Chester-Andover Elementary School has 46 in total since January;
  • Green Mountain Union Middle/High School has 67 in total;
  • Cavendish Elementary has seven cases in total;
  • Ludlow Elementary has nine cases in total;
  • Mount Holly School has 12 cases in total since January term began.

Test kits vs. 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, Thursday from 2-6 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. – noon.

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 1-3:50 p.m., Tuesday through Friday 8:50 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Carlos Otis Stratton Mountain Clinic, 78 Founder’s Hill Road, Stratton, Monday and Wednesday, 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 were stagnant

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. There was little improvement in vaccination rates this week with the percentage of Vermonters of at least 5 years of age who have received all recommended vaccines, remaining at 58 percent. Those 5 and older who received one dose also was unchanged and still stands at 87 percent.

Windsor County’s vaccination rate for those 5 and older with one dose remained unchanged at 85 percent. Windham County’s vaccination number remained steady 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

Saturday, March 5

Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, 17 Belmont Ave., Brattleboro, 8 a.m. – noon. (5-11) and (12+)

Monday, March 7

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

Tuesday, March 8

Riverside Middle School, 13 Fairgrounds Road, Springfield, 10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. (5-11) and (12+)

Woodstock High School, 100 Amsden Way, Woodstock, 4–6 p.m. (5-11) and (12+)

Community Health Pediatrics, 1 General Wing Road, Rutland, 4–5:30 p.m. (5-11) and (12+)

Hartford District Office, 118 Prospect St., White River Jct., 10:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. (5-11) and (12+)

Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, 17 Belmont Ave., Brattleboro, 2–6 p.m. (5-11) and (12+)

Brattleboro VFW, 40 Black Mountain Road, Brattleboro, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. (5-11) and (12+)

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

Wednesday, March 9

Brattleboro Union High School, Brattleboro, 4:30-6:30 p.m. (5-11) and (12+)

Lathrop Elementary School, 3447 US Route 7, Pittsford, 1–4 p.m. (5-11) and (12+)

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

Thursday, March 10

Hartford High School, 37 Highland Ave., Hartford, 4-6 p.m. (5-11) and (12+)

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

Diamond Run Mall, 46 Diamond Run, Rutland, 10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. (5-11) and (12+)

Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, 17 Belmont Ave., Brattleboro, 2-6 p.m. (5-11) and (12+)

Friday, March 11

Fair Haven high School, 33 Mechanic St., Fair Haven, 4–6 p.m. (5-11) and (12+)

Stratton Resort, 5 Village Lodge Road, Stratton, 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. (5-11) and (12+)

Royalton Town Office, 2460 VT Route 14, S. Royalton, 3:30–5:30 p.m. (5-11) and (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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