VDH: Near record level of COVID cases at 327, one death

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VDH: Near record level of COVID cases at 327, one death

Wed, 10/13/2021 - 5:35pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Department of Health today is reporting the second highest number of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic more than 18 months ago with 327 cases. The previous record was just a month ago with 330 on September 15. Cases were up 195 from Tuesday. There was one additional death for 340 statewide. There were 49 people hospitalized (down two) with 14 in the ICU (down two). Cases in the southern four counties have been relatively high, as they have been in Washington and Franklin counties in recent days.

Governor Scott at his Tuesday press briefing lamented the rise in cases this week after they had been falling the previous couple of weeks, albeit slowly. He and Health Commissioner Mark Levine could not exactly put their finger on the reason why this was happening, but noted that many cases were coming from smaller gatherings.

The governor is also concerned with the level of frustration on the part of parents of school-aged children, as that consternation has been directed toward school staff and teachers. He said everyone is doing the best they can under very trying circumstances. He also noted that in some cases parents are refusing to follow the guidelines related to quarantine and isolation.

He acknowledged that parents have a difficult time if their child needs to be sent home, but it's important for them to follow the protocols for everyone's health and benefit. And be civil and respectful in all situations. "It's not easy on anyone."

Dr Mark Levine said most school cases are brought into school as part of community transmission and are less likely being passed around in the school setting. This is why parents need to follow the protocols so kids aren't brining more virus into school.

Addison County

New Cases: 2

Recent Cases 14 days: 44

Bennington County

New Cases: 22

Recent Cases 14 days: 159

Caledonia County

New Cases: 9

Recent Cases 14 days: 173

Chittenden County

New Cases: 37

Recent Cases 14 days: 541

Essex County

New Cases: 2

Recent Cases 14 days: 61

Franklin County

New Cases: 24

Recent Cases 14 days: 208

Grand Isle County

New Cases: 1

Recent Cases 14 days: 13

Lamoille County

New Cases: 12

Recent Cases 14 days: 71

Orange County

New Cases: 7

Recent Cases 14 days: 101

Orleans County

New Cases: 37

Recent Cases 14 days: 339

Pending Validation

New Cases: 83

Recent Cases 14 days: 85

Rutland County

New Cases: 32

Recent Cases 14 days: 368

Washington County

New Cases: 36

Recent Cases 14 days: 346

Windham County

New Cases: 12

Recent Cases 14 days: 164

Windsor County

New Cases: 11

Recent Cases 14 days: 243

COVID-19 deaths have remained relatively high in Vermont, they are generally falling across the US and across the region.

Financial Commissioner Michael Pieciak said Tuesday that Vermont unvaccinated Vermonters account for the bulk off the cases, with the highest block being children in the 0-9 age bracket. Anyone under 12 is still not eligible to get vaccinated.

This week the FDA and CDC are beginning the process to weigh vaccines for children 5-11, boosters for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines and whether you can mix and match vaccines. The approval for any of this will take a few more weeks.

In any case, the child dose of vaccine will be lower and Pfizer only, like the booster is already.

Cases in high vaccination regions of the country are not displaying the typical Delta variant pattern, as in India, of a spike followed by a steep drop off after a couple months.

In Vermont, Delta has shown slow growth and a long plateau. Health Commission Mark Levine suggested that the drop off here could be another couple of weeks off, but he frankly was not sure.

He and Governor Scott and Human Services Secretary Mike Smith all urged that everyone who is eligible to get a vaccine to get one now, to get a booster now and to wear a mask while at an indoor gathering.

Governor Scott said the data shows that virus transmission with Delta is occurring at things like weddings and baby showers and birthday parties, sort of small and medium events where people are gathered for a period of time. It is not happening while visiting a convenience store or other type place where you are in an out, he said. Nor is it happening at outdoor gathering events.

Pieciak, in his COVID-19 Modeling presentation, said deaths seem to have slowed down a little as Delta has taken its toll. There have been 14 in October so far.   

Still, September was the second worst month for COVID-related deaths in Vermont since the beginning of the pandemic, with 45. December 2020 was the worst with 71 and April 2020 was third worst with 35.

Meanwhile, the state is ramping up antigen testing in schools to keep kids in school who otherwise would be sent home if there were a close contact of someone who tests positive. Children now have a higher rate of infection than adults.

Governor Scott and state officials are urging all those who are eligible now to get vaccinated or get a booster shot, to do so, in order to reduce community transmission of the novel coronavirus (see clinic sites below).

As of October 1, many more Vermonters can now schedule and receive their Pfizer vaccine booster shots. He said there is plenty of vaccine supply.

Also Thursday Pfizer asked the FDA to approve authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine to children 5-11. If the FDA does so, it likely still won't be available until November.

“We know vaccines are safe and effective, and these additional doses add even more protection. So, I encourage anyone who is eligible to register for your booster today,” said Governor Scott. “At the same time, we continue to urge those who have not yet gotten their first dose to get vaccinated. The data shows we are now in a pandemic of the unvaccinated, and vaccines are the best way to protect yourself, friends and family, and to make sure we continue moving forward from the pandemic.”

Governor Scott said that the state will take a very broad interpretation of eligibility. 

"We've reflected on this," Scott said. "We're going to be quite lenient in terms of who should be included and if they'd like to have a booster we'd like to find a way for them to have it. So I expect that number is substantially higher at this point. So our interpretation of this will be, again, quite broad."

Addition of Rapid Testing Tools Will Help Keep More Kids in School

Education Secretary Dan French anticipates that at least one school district will begin a "Test to Stay" program this week with perhaps a couple more next week. 

The hold up for the most part is staffing and how to align contact tracing with the extra antigen tests.

The State of Vermont has distributed resources and information to all Vermont public and independent schools to enable them to establish COVID-19 response testing in every school across Vermont. The state is bolstering existing testing tools with rapid testing to help keep more kids in school.

The program, a joint effort of the Agency of Education, Department of Health and a range of other state government and public health partners, will provide schools with a robust tool set to respond to cases in their learning community. These resources are provided free of charge to Vermont schools.

“We all know how important it is to keep kids in school – doing so is a public health imperative,” said Governor Scott. “But what we have seen so far is that many students have had to quarantine after a possible exposure and then don’t ever become a case. This is valuable classroom time that is lost for the student, and challenging for parents and schools to manage. By adding these additional tools to the toolbox, we can minimize disruptions, more quickly identify cases, and above all, keep our kids in school, so they can get the education and opportunities for social interaction they deserve.”

Using a combination of PCR and rapid antigen tests, response testing allows schools to greatly reduce the time students might otherwise have to spend out of the classroom due to cases at their school. Students who are close contacts of a classmate or teacher who tests positive for COVID-19 will be able to test out of quarantine more easily and continue attending school while in quarantine as long as they have no symptoms.

“Response testing is a critical tool for Vermont schools as they work to keep students learning, and a key part of our efforts to support Vermont’s hard-working school staff and educators,” said Secretary of Education Dan French. “Right now, the most important thing we can for students’ long-term success is to keep them in the classroom as much as possible. Together with the current surveillance testing program, these new tools will help make sure that students are present, learning and engaged in the other essential pursuits that Vermont education provides.”

“When combined with surveillance testing, response testing provides a full range of tools to Vermont schools, allowing them to quickly respond to cases, and keep students at school, engaged and learning," said Agency of Human Services Secretary, Mike Smith.

The COVID-19 response testing program consists of three complementary testing tools, each used for different scenarios, giving schools flexibility to respond directly to specific cases in their learning community:

  • Test to Stay  allows unvaccinated students who are close contacts of a positive COVID-19 case to take a daily antigen test at the beginning of the school day, rather than remaining at home. Students who test negative go to class and in-school extracurricular activities as normal, as long as they have no symptoms. Students test until seven days have passed since they were last exposed to the case. This program is modeled after successful programs in Massachusetts and Utah and has been supported by Vermont’s pediatric community and infectious disease experts at the University of Vermont.
  • PCR Response Testing ─ allows schools to conduct a wide range of PCR testing in response to case(s) in their learning community. This includes testing unvaccinated close contacts out of quarantine, testing vaccinated close contacts three (3) to five (5) days after exposure, and testing symptomatic students who test negative with an antigen test. Schools administer the testing on site.
  • Take Home PCR Testing  allows schools to distribute kits to students, staff and family members who need a test. Families can follow simple instructions to register the kit using a smartphone or web browser, collect the sample, and either send back to the lab themselves with a pre-paid shipping label, or return to the school for shipping. These kits are intended for students quarantining at home, family members of COVID-19 positive students, or anyone in the learning community who needs a test.

Families will hear directly from their school about testing programs in their community. Schools will receive additional resources and information next week.

Information can be found on the Agency of Education’s COVID-19 Testing Family Resources webpage and COVID-19 Response Testing At-A-Glance.

Vaccine Booster Medical Conditions

Note: The list below does not include all potential medical conditions that could make you more likely to get severely ill. Rare medical conditions may not be included below. However, a person with a condition that is not listed may still be in more danger from COVID-19 than persons of similar age who do not have the condition and should talk with their healthcare provider.

To get a booster you must have first received both Pfizer shots at least six months ago.

Medical Conditions in Adults

  • This list is presented in alphabetical order and not in order of risk.

  • CDC completed an evidence review process for each medical condition on this list to ensure they met criteria for inclusion on this webpage.

  • We are learning more about COVID-19 every day, and this list may be updated as the science evolves.

Cancer

Having cancer can make you more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19. Treatments for many types of cancer can weaken your body’s ability to fight off disease.  At this time, based on available studies, having a history of cancer may increase your risk.

Get more information:

Chronic kidney disease

Having chronic kidney disease of any stage can make you more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19.

Get more information:

Chronic lung diseases, including COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma (moderate-to-severe), interstitial lung disease, cystic fibrosis, and pulmonary hypertension

Chronic lung diseases can make you more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19. These diseases may include:

  • Asthma, if it’s moderate to severe

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema and chronic bronchitis

  • Having damaged or scarred lung tissue such as interstitial lung disease (including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis)

  • Cystic fibrosis, with or without lung or other solid organ transplant

  • Pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs)

Get more information:

Dementia or other neurological conditions

Having neurological conditions, such as dementia, can make you more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19.

Get more information:

Diabetes (type 1 or type 2)

Having either type 1 or type 2 diabetes can make you more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19.

Get more information:

Down syndrome

Having Down syndrome can make you more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19.

Get more information:

Heart conditions (such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies or hypertension)

Having heart conditions such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, and possibly high blood pressure (hypertension) can make you more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19.

Get more information:

HIV infection

Having HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) can make you more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19.

Get more information:

Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system)

Having a weakened immune system can make you more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19. Many conditions and treatments can cause a person to be immunocompromised or have a weakened immune system. Primary immunodeficiency is caused by genetic defects that can be inherited. Prolonged use of corticosteroids or other immune weakening medicines can lead to secondary or acquired immunodeficiency.

People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken their immune system may not be fully protected even if they are fully vaccinated. They should continue to take all precautions recommended for unvaccinated people, including wearing a well-fitted mask, until advised otherwise by their healthcare provider.

Get more information:

Liver disease

Having chronic liver disease, such as alcohol-related liver disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and especially cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver, can make you more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19.

Get more information:

Overweight and obesity

Overweight (defined as a body mass index (BMI) > 25 kg/m2 but < 30 kg/m2), obesity (BMI ≥30 kg/m2 but < 40 kg/m2), or severe obesity (BMI of ≥40 kg/m2), can make you more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19.  The risk of severe COVID-19 illness increases sharply with elevated BMI.

Get more information:

Pregnancy

Pregnant and recently pregnant people (for at least 42 days following end of pregnancy) are more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant people.

Get more information:

Sickle cell disease or thalassemia

Having hemoglobin blood disorders like sickle cell disease (SCD) or thalassemia can make you more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19.

Get more information:

Smoking, current or former

Being a current or former cigarette smoker can make you more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19. If you currently smoke, quit. If you used to smoke, don’t start again. If you’ve never smoked, don’t start.

Get more information:

Solid organ or blood stem cell transplant

Having had a solid organ or blood stem cell transplant, which includes bone marrow transplants, can make you more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19.

Get more information:

Stroke or cerebrovascular disease, which affects blood flow to the brain

Having cerebrovascular disease, such as having a stroke, can make you more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19.

Get more information:

Substance use disorders

Having a substance use disorder (such as alcohol, opioid, or cocaine use disorder) can make you more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19.

Get more information:

Information on Children and Teens

While children have been less affected by COVID-19 compared with adults, children can be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and some children develop severe illness. Children with underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness compared to children without underlying medical conditions. Current evidence on which underlying medical conditions in children are associated with increased risk is limited. Current evidence suggests that children with medical complexity, with genetic, neurologic, metabolic conditions, or with congenital heart disease can be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Similar to adults, children with obesity, diabetes, asthma or chronic lung disease, sickle cell disease, or immunosuppression can also be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. One way to protect the health of children is to ensure that all adults in a household are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

GET YOUR FIRST OR SECOND DOSE OF VACCINE!

Visit www.healthvermont.gov/MyVaccine to make an appointment. You can also call 855-722-7878.

Vermonters 70 years of age and older can make an appointment for booster shots beginning tomorrow. Those aged 65 and older can make appointments beginning on Friday.

Additionally, starting on Friday, those aged 18 to 64 with underlying medical conditions or who work in certain occupational settings will become eligible for boosters. The State is awaiting guidance from the CDC on what underlying medical conditions and/or occupational settings make individuals eligible for booster shots. That guidance is expected from the CDC later this week.

Booster shots are available at all vaccination sites listed below. They are only approved for those who received the Pfizer vaccine, and six months or more have passed since they completed their second dose. If you are eligible for a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine, an appointment is required. We anticipate Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters to be recommended by the CDC in the coming weeks.

Here are the vaccination sites available this week:

More ways to get your free vaccine:

Make an appointment for a free vaccine

You can also walk-in at CVS, Hannaford Food and Drug, Walmart, Walgreens, Price Chopper/Market 32, Rite Aid, Shaw’s Supermarket, or Costco or get an appointment with Kinney DrugsCVSWalgreens, Northfield Pharmacy, or UVMMC Outpatient Pharmacies.

Vaccination & COVID-19 Dashboards