Weekly Covid Update: State narrows testing recommendation as focus shifts from Covid Clinics move from state-run to health providers, pharmacies

Editor’s Note: The Chester Telegraph began publishing its Weekly Covid Update every Friday beginning in April 2020.  Since then, we have written more than 93 update articles (and hundreds more on Covid itself) to let you know where our communities have stood when it comes to the pandemic’s spread, its vaccination rates and testing. We’ve also provided lists on where to go for tests and vaccines. The pandemic is changing and so has been our communities’  response: Vaccinations have stalled, but we still rely on testing, and many continue to wear masks where appropriate, attend  meetings by Zoom if necessary and are generally cautious.  This will be the last update for at least a while and maybe forever.  Thank you for reading.

©2022 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine was the only state official to speak about Covid at Tuesday’s weekly press conference, another indication of the state’s shift away from focus on the pandemic.

Levine said the Health Department was narrowing its recommendations for testing to those who were either symptomatic or had a definite close contact with someone who was either not vaccinated or under-vaccinated. Testing also was continuing to shift from PCR tests to rapid take-home antigen or LAMP tests.

Vaccine and testing clinics will move from state-run to being handled by pharmacies and personal physicians. Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich for Pexels.

Vaccine clinics, Levine added, are also moving away from Health Department-scheduled clinics and toward health-care providers and pharmacies, like other vaccines. State Health Department vaccine clinics will still be running as scheduled throughout April however. He said that if circumstances call for it, the state will ramp up vaccination efforts.

Addressing the BA2 variant, Levine said that although more contagious, all indications are that it was less severe and that hospitalizations are the meaningful measure. He encouraged older Vermonters in particular to make sure they are fully vaccinated to guard against more severe outcomes.

New weekly case totals, though still below the 1,000-case threshold, showed a slight increase again for the second week in a row with 981 new cases reported this week, up from 920 last week. The overall total number of Covid cases in Vermont stands at 115,849 since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.

Hospitalizations dropped from 17 to 12 this week. There were no people in intensive care, down from six last week. The positivity percentage rate was again on the rise and went from 4.4 percent to 5.1 percent.

Covid deaths this week ticked up slightly, from three deaths last week to four deaths reported this week. Of the most recent deaths, one was a Vermonter over the age of 80, one was age 70-79, and two were age 60 to 69. The total number of Vermonters who have died from Covid now stands at 615.

Total positive case numbers, deaths and other statistics are based on data captured from Friday, March 18 to Friday, March 25, published on the Health Department’s Case Dashboard.

County, school case reports

Windsor County reported a decrease in cases this week with 76 cases, well-down from with 132 last week. Windham County cases rose slightly however with 46 cases this week, up from and 36 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 last week, Friday, March 18.

  • Chester-Andover Elementary School has reported zero new cases, 53 in total since January;
  • Green Mountain Union Middle/High School has four new cases, 71 in total;
  • Cavendish Town Elementary has four new cases, 11 in total;
  • Ludlow Elementary has reported two new cases, 12 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 state, free take-home tests that give you rapid results are now available at many Health Department testing sites.

Home test kits Photo by Shawn Cunningham

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 antigen, PCR, and LAMP 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.

Rutland Town Clerk Building, 181 US Route 4, Rutland, Monday and Wednesday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. This site has antigen and LAMP tests, no 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.

SVMC Northshire Campus, 5957 Main St., Manchester, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (not Health Dept. testing) This site has antigen and LAMP tests, no PCR tests.

Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center, 289 County Road, Windsor, Monday 1 – 3:40 p.m., Wednesday 8:50 – 10:50 a.m., Friday 1 – 3:40 p.m. This site has antigen, PCR, and LAMP tests.

Carlos Otis Stratton Mountain Clinic, 78 Founder’s Hill Road, Stratton, Monday and Wednesday, 8-11 a.m. This site has PCR tests. Last day of testing Wednesday, April 6.

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

State vaxx rates were unchanged

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, remained steady at 59 percent. 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

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+)

Saturday, March 26

Canal Street, 417 Canal St., Brattleboro, 8 a.m. – noon (5-11) and (12+)

Monday, March 28

Mt. Ascutney Hospital, Prof. Building, Lower Level, 289 County Road, Windsor 8:50 – 11:20 a.m. (12+)

Tuesday, March 29

Riverside Middle School, 13 Fairgrounds Road, Springfield, 3:30 – 6:30 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+)

Canal Street, 417 Canal St., Brattleboro, 2-6 p.m. (5-11) and (12+)

Wednesday, March 30

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

Thursday, March 31

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

Canal Street, 417 Canal St., Brattleboro, 2-6 p.m. (5-11) and (12+)

Friday, April 1

Valley Bible, 851 Fairview Terrace, Hartford, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. (12+)

Bellows Falls Fire Dept. 170 Rockingham St., Bellows Falls, 4-6:30 p.m. (5-11) and (12+)

Royalton Town Office, 2460 VT Route 14, S. Royalton, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 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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