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10% of Vermonters vaccinated; Inter-school sports begin Feb. 12

Published: Feb. 5, 2021 at 9:48 AM EST
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont Governor Phil Scott says more than 10% of the state’s population has now been vaccinated against COVID-19 and he expects to get to 20% more quickly as more vaccines get approval.

“This is good news. It means every day we’re getting closer to protecting those most at risk of death and getting back to normal,” Gov. Scott said.

More than 58,000 Vermonters have gotten at least one dose and 22,500 have gotten a second dose. About 21 percent of people 75 and older have gotten the first dose and 33,100 people in this group have registered for the shot so far.

As of Friday, homebound Vermonters ages 75-plus can now get their shots. The first counties getting doses for this program are Caledonia, Franklin, Orange, Windsor, and Windham. It will be expanded to others next week.

The first group of home health patients to get their shots are the 2,000 or so who are already getting their care through home-health agencies. “Vaccinating agencies will contact them to arrange the vaccination visit. Please do not contact the home health agencies, they will contact you,” explained AHS Secretary Mike Smith. He reassured those who are homebound but don’t get care from home health, that they working to identify them through primary care doctors, agencies on aging, and municipalities. “There will be some overlap as we transition from one group to another.”

The state expects to open up vaccinations to those 70-plus by the end of the month. Meanwhile, the 2,500 or so people in group 1a who haven’t been vaccinated yet will continue to get their shots. He says people in that group should contact the hospital in their area to register and to not register online -- that system is only for people 75-plus. “We are making progress along all fronts, but this is not a sprint it will take time,” Smith said.

Vermont is still on the hunt for evidence of any virus variants. The state expects to get some results on genomic testing next week. Despite the dropping cases, the governor said not to expect restrictions on social gatherings to lift anytime soon. “I think getting through the winter is key, because we’re inside more in confined spaces and so forth. Once we can get into the spring and get outside and so forth, I think that will alleviate a lot of concern,” Scott said.

The state has added vaccination clinics in Alburgh and Beecher Falls. The state is also getting more hospitals on board to give out shots including Grace Cottage, Northwestern, and Mount Ascutney. Others are expected to join the effort soon.

As part of the state’s effort to reach out to refugee and immigrant communities, about 50 people with language barriers were vaccinated in Burlington Thursday night and 50 more will get shots in Winooski Friday night.

HEALTH UPDATE

Vt. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine says the state has expanded testing in Bennington County, where case numbers remain high. That includes roping in ski resorts to help. Most of the cases there are spreading through worksites and community transmission, though some are from small gatherings, people who live in New York but work in Vermont, or get medical care here. Some of those cases were also from skier visits.

As of Friday, Vermont health officials reported 107 new coronavirus cases for a total of 12,612. There have been a total of 181 deaths. The state’s percent positive seven-day average is 1.8%. A total of 308,813 people have been tested, 192 travelers are being monitored, 12,802 have completed monitoring, and 9,126 have recovered.

INTER-SCHOOL SPORTS COMPETITIONS BEGIN FEBRUARY 12

School sporting competitions and youth league play will be allowed to resume on February 12th. Teams can only play two games within seven days and there must be three days between competitions.

For high schools, that means basketball and hockey teams may begin their seasons, with some additional safety measures in place. Only players, coaches, officials, game staff, and credentialed media will be allowed at the games, and all will be required to wear masks. No spectators will be allowed.

High school teams had been allowed to hold limited practices since December 26th, and more traditional practices with contact, since January 18th. State officials said they looked at the data from those practices and determined that indoor sports have not been shown to contribute to virus spread, although if that changes, those sports could be suspended again.

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