VDH: Cases fall but stay over 200, no deaths

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VDH: Cases fall but stay over 200, no deaths

Fri, 10/22/2021 - 5:41pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Department of Health is reporting today that cases fell today with 224 (down 94). Cases spiked yesterday to their fourth highest number on record after four straight days in which cases fell. The four worst days for cases have all come since mid-September, as the Delta variant has taken over since early July. There has also been some uneven reporting of cases, resulting in peaks and troughs.

The state announced Thursday night that boosters for Moderna (like already approved Pfizer, six months after second dose) and Johnson & Johnson (two months after first dose) would begin immediately. The CDC is also allowing people to change vaccine.

The FDA and CDC are in the process of approving vaccines for children 5-11. 

The VDH also today reported no additional deaths, holding at 351 statewide. There are 47 people hospitalized (up four from Thursday) with 10 in the ICU (down one). Hospitalizations are high but have been stable.

Cases in the southern Vermont continue to be relatively high, as have cases in Franklin and the Northeast Kingdom. But Washington County cases also have been climbing and only Addison, Lamoille, Windsor and Grand Isles have fewer than 500 cases per 10,000 residents now.

Governor Scott and Health Commissioner Mark Levine could not exactly put their finger on the reason why cases remain high even as the state has the highest vaccination rate in the nation. As for the NEK, it has the highest COVID rate and the lowest vaccination rate.

Scott used strong language Tuesday for those who are unvaccinated. While he wasn't scolding them for not getting vaccinated, he said that anyone who was not vaccinated and then did not follow the simple health protocols (wearing a mask inside in a public place and staying home if sick, etc) is being "selfish."

He is calling on all Vermonters to act responsibly.

The Delta variant appears to be more transmissible than other versions of the coronavirus.

See Vaccination & COVID-19 Dashboards & Vaccination Sites Table Below

Addison County

New Cases: 6

Recent Cases 14 days: 57

Bennington County

New Cases: 29

Recent Cases 14 days: 218

Caledonia County

New Cases: 17

Recent Cases 14 days: 190

Chittenden County

New Cases: 42

Recent Cases 14 days: 587

Essex County

New Cases: 6

Recent Cases 14 days: 57

Franklin County

New Cases: 10

Recent Cases 14 days: 244

Grand Isle County

New Cases: 0

Recent Cases 14 days: 17

Lamoille County

New Cases: 5

Recent Cases 14 days: 110

Orange County

New Cases: 14

Recent Cases 14 days: 140

Orleans County

New Cases: 21

Recent Cases 14 days: 419

Pending Validation

New Cases: 10

Recent Cases 14 days: 10

Rutland County

New Cases: 15

Recent Cases 14 days: 289

Washington County

New Cases: 14

Recent Cases 14 days: 334

Windham County

New Cases: 18

Recent Cases 14 days: 197

Windsor County

New Cases: 17

Recent Cases 14 days: 250

COVID-19 deaths have remained relatively high in Vermont (though Vermont has the lowest fatality rate in the US: 556 per million, Hawaii 617); they are generally falling across the US and across the region. Vermont's seven and 14-day average is also up.

Dr Levine said Tuesday that those who are fully vaccinated and who have died from COVID have at least one underlying condition and usually more than one and are typically also older Vermonters.

Most cases in Vermont are in the younger age groups with the 20-29 reporting the most, with nearly 7,300 total cases out of 37,100+, but only one death. The over 79 demographic has the fewest cases (just over 1,200) but by far the most fatalities with 188, or more than half the state total.

Financial Commissioner Michael Pieciak said today (SEE HIS FULL SLIDE DECK HERE) that the highest vaccination rate is among children in the 0-9 age bracket. Anyone under 12 is still not eligible to get vaccinated.

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 23 in October so far (as of the 21st)   

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.

Last week 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.


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:


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.


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