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Friday, Jun 21, 2024

News in Brief: Vermont reports 1,667 cases over five-day holiday break

Though Vermont’s cases have decreased over the past 14 days, Addison County case counts have risen by 80% in the same timeframe

Addison County reported 93 new cases on Nov. 29, marking an 80% increase in cases over the past 14 days as of Tuesday.

“Cases have increased recently and are extremely high,” read the New York Times webpage dedicated to tracking Covid-19 in Addison County as of Dec. 1.

Vermont reported a rolling seven-day average of 383.71 cases on Nov. 24  — a case number that is more than twice the number of cases reported during the peak of the previous surge of cases in April 2021. And as of Nov. 30, Vermont is listed eighth highest and is tied with New Mexico for per capita cases in the country at 51 cases per 100,000 people.

The state is suffering one of the most intense surges in the country despite continuing to possess the highest vaccination rates among the fifty states. The Vermont Department of Health (VDOH) Covid-19 dashboard indicated 1,667 new cases over the five days of holiday break.

The most severe spike in daily case counts during the holiday week took place on Wednesday, Nov. 24 with 561 new cases in Vermont, the second-highest one-day total for the state since the beginning of the pandemic. Testing around the holidays usually results in some irregularities due to circumstances such as limited hours at testing sites or labs closing for the break, which may cause data to reflect an initial decline in cases followed by a potential spike. 

When looking at the 14-day average for new cases in Vermont, the data suggests a fall in total cases over the past week by 12%. But testing rates have also dropped by 12%, which means that this total case count could be an underrepresentation of the number of existing cases.

According to VT Digger, the one-day positivity rate — the rate at which administered tests came back positive — jumped to 8.7% on Thanksgiving, although the seven-day average sat lower at 4.5%.  The positivity rate on that date is the highest since April 2020, even prior to today’s expanded testing protocols. 

Four deaths were reported over the weekend. As of Nov. 30, 84 Vermonters were hospitalized with Covid-19, including 24 who were sent to the ICU. Concerns about the availability of beds, as well as understaffing resulting in inability to meet patient needs, then rose with Tuesday’s record.

“The crisis some of us feared is here,” State Rep. George Till, D-Jericho, wrote in a Tuesday email to VT Digger. “We’re turning down transports from outlying hospitals in record numbers as are other tertiary care hospitals in the region.”

The VDOH also said that it is monitoring the spread of the new Omicron variant in a press conference with Governor Scott on Tuesday. Omnicron is  a mutation of the coronavirus that the WHO designated a “variant of concern” on Nov. 26, meaning that it is potentially more highly transmissible, could result in more severe complications or could show reduced responsiveness to the vaccine.

Vermont Health Commissioner Mark Levine issued a statement that no Omicron cases have yet been recognized in the state of Vermont. In this statement, Levine also encouraged vaccinated Vermonters to seek their booster shots if eligible.

Managing Editor Lucy Townend contributed reporting.

Becca Amen

Becca Amen '22 is the Senior Local Editor.

She previously served as a Local editor, a staff writer and a copy editor.

Amen is a joint major in English and American Literatures and Philosophy.

During the summer of 2021, she interned at New England Review, where  she recorded and produced an episode of their literary podcast. Her past  stories include coverage on Ruth Hardy's run for Vermont State Senator  and a report on the town of Middlebury's 2019 climate strike.

In addition to her work at The Campus, Amen hosts a radio show on  WRMC, Middlebury's college radio, and serves as an editor for  Middlebury's Blackbird art and literary journal.