Pandemic’s 2 year anniversary: Covid not over, but Vermonters moving toward healthful balance Covid cases rise again as new BA2 sub-variant found in U.S.

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Having passed the two-year anniversary of the start of the pandemic on March 13, a mix of ups and downs reflected in the key metrics being tracked weekly indicates that the Covid-19 virus is not over yet, something Gov. Phil Scott and Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine both touched on during Tuesday’s press conference.

According to Scott, during a conversation with national health leaders and other state governors, U.S. Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci discussed the BA2 sub-variant of the Omicron strain that is on the rise in other countries and in some areas of the U.S. Scott said he was advised that there might be an uptick of U.S. cases for a few weeks, which will be manageable. Fauci said that although numbers were rising in Europe, ICU levels were remaining flat.

Scott said, “Because of tools we now have and knowledge we’ve gained, we won’t need to relive the experience of the past 24 months.”

Levine too reiterated that the virus is still here but that Vermonters were moving forward “finding a balance between vigilance around the virus and living with fewer disruptions to our lives due to Covid, both while trying to get back to overall better physical and mental health.”

Levine said the Vermont Health Department would continue health monitoring and surveillance testing and keep up-to-date on new strains and treatments. “If the situation changes, we will be prepared to change with it,” he said. Levine also suggested Vermonters keep masks around and hold onto rapid tests.

New weekly case totals, though still below the 1,000-case threshold, are rising again with 920 new cases reported this week, up from 841 last week. The overall total number of Covid cases in Vermont stands at 114,868 since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.

Hospitalizations dropped from 22 to 17 this week. The number of people in intensive care held steady at six. The positivity percentage rate reversed course and was on the rise from 3.8 percent to 4.4 percent.

Covid deaths this week were also slightly up, from one death last week to three deaths this week. Of the most recent deaths, one was a Vermonter over the age of 80, one was age 70-79, and one was age 50 to 59. The total number of Vermonters who have died from Covid now stands at 611.

Total positive case numbers, deaths and other statistics are based on data captured from Friday, March 11 to Friday, March 18, published on the Health Department’s Case Dashboard.

County, school case reports

Windsor County reported 132 cases this week, up from with 79 last week. Windham County cases continued downward however with 36 cases this week, down from and 43 cases last 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.

Updates reflected this week are increases since Feb. 17, the last time the document had been updated.

  • Chester-Andover Elementary School has reported seven new cases, 53 in total since January;
  • Green Mountain Union Middle/High School has no new cases, 67 in total;
  • Cavendish Elementary has no new cases, seven in total;
  • Ludlow Elementary has reported one new case, 10 in total;
  • Mount Holly School has no new cases, 12 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.

According to the website, free take-home tests that give you rapid results are now available at many Health Department testing sites.

According to Levine, the state is instituting changes to how it is approaching testing. As of Wednesday, March 16, some of the health department testing sites will begin offering take-home options for testing with either rapid antigen take-home tests, or a LAMP test (which is similar to a PCR but can be done at home). PCR tests will still be offered for those who need it for now, including children under two, or if someone needs a “negative result” letter for travel. So far in our area, local testing sites are still only providing PCR tests.

The nearest sites for testing include:

Brattleboro, 417 Canal St., Tuesday, Thursday from 2-6 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. – noon. This site has PCR tests.

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. This site has PCR tests.

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. This site has PCR tests.

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. Starting March 21: Monday 1 – 3:40 p.m., Wednesday 8:50 – 10:50 a.m., Friday 1 – 3:40 p.m. This site has PCR tests.

Carlos Otis Stratton Mountain Clinic, 78 Founder’s Hill Road, Stratton, Monday and Wednesday, 8-11 a.m. This site has PCR tests.

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

State vaxx rates ticked up slightly

Vaccination rates across the board showed a minor increase. There was no improvement in vaccination rates this week with the percentage of Vermonters of at least 5 years of age who have received all recommended vaccines, rose to 59 percent, up from 58 percent last week. Those 5 and older who received one dose remained 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 19

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

Tuesday, March 22

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+)

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 23

Brattleboro Union High School, Brattleboro, 4:30-6:30 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 24

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

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

Dana L. Thompson Memorial Park, 34 Rec. Park Rd., Manchester, 3:30 – 6 p.m. (5-11) and (12+)

Friday, March 25

Fair Haven High School, 33 Mechanic St., Fair Haven, 4-6 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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