Nearly 77% of Vermonters vaccinated; full reopening expected by early June
MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Nearly 77% of eligible Vermonters 12 and up have now been vaccinated on the way to Governor Phil Scott’s 80% goal to lift all pandemic restrictions.
Officials Tuesday said the latest total stands at 76.9% and that an additional 17, 250 Vermonters are needed to reach the goal the governor first announced on Friday. That means state restrictions on masking, gathering sizes, and bar and restaurant limits will vanish.
AHS Secretary Mike Smith said earlier numbers from the CDC had double-counted the numbers. “We need 17,250 more eligible Vermonters to step up and do their part to help us reach our 80% goal,” Smith said.
“We’re heading toward a time where three out of every four Vermonters will be vaccinated, which significantly lowers the chance you’ll encounter someone who is unvaccinated,” said Governor Phil Scott.
At the current rate of about 2,500 doses daily., the governor says the state will likely get to the 80% goal by the middle of next week. But that all depends on how many people get the shot. To get there, the state is setting up a slew of vaccination events including May 30th at Thunder Road, Vermont State parks on June 12, the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, and various clinics at mobile home parks.
The state is also working with 27 large employers to set up clinics including National Life Group, the Edge, Ethan Allen, and Global Foundries. Any employer with at least 100 employees can ask the state to set up a clinic.
Even as Vermont approaches full reopening, health officials say upwards of 5% of Vermonters are not showing up for their second shot. They say this could make people more susceptible to the virus in the months ahead. “Obviously, if you want to finish a race, you don’t stop halfway,” said Vt. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine.
And with the Memorial Day weekend approaching, Levine encouraged people to get their shot to have a more normal holiday. “Public health is often accused of being the wet blanket/finger-wagger, having too much guidance often tilted to the restrictive side. This time, I’d like to highlight the things we can do,” he said.
Once Vaccinated, Levine says we can attend gatherings with friends and family, cookouts, boating, farmers markets, baseball, and other events with no masks and no quarantining after travel.
VT. OFFICIALS SAY DATA SUPPORTS JUNE REOPENING
Vermont officials say the state’s COVID numbers are the best they’ve been in six months when it comes to deaths and hospitalizations and that data modeling supports an accelerated reopening in June.
“For the seventh straight week in a row, our modeling report contains a lot of good news. In fact, across the board, Vermont’s COVID-19 numbers are better now than at any point in the last six weeks -- or six months rather,” said DFR Commissioner Mike Piechak.
Coronavirus cases are down 39% in the last week and 85% since April 1st. That means active cases in Vermont are also plummeting. -- down 70% in the last six weeks. The state currently has the lowest number of active cases in six months.
Cases are down across all age groups, but there’s one group that is still seeing more cases than others -- the younger Vermonters who Governor Scott says have been lagging in stepping up to get their shots. “Recent cases have been largely concentrated in the 18 to 29 age band, which we know has a much slower uptake of the vaccine. So, hopefully, that data alone motivates those in that age group to find a site and get your shot,” he said.
Cases are also down regionally by about 30% this week from last week. They are below 20,000 for the first time since September. The Northeast also leads the nation in vaccine uptake. There is also good news north of the border because Quebec’s vaccination pace is picking up too.
SCOTT SIGNS GEORGE FLOYD REMEMBRANCE DAY PROCLAMATION
“We reflect on what we saw with our own eyes on that, on this anniversary and make sure we continue this work, which is why it was important to mark today with a proclamation,” Scott said Tuesday.
The governor says Floyd’s tragic killing helped spark important conversations about racism and the need to modernize law enforcement. Hee says he feels good about the approach Vermont is taking to improve law enforcement but acknowledges change will not happen overnight.
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