COVID case counts high ahead of Thanksgiving holiday
MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - The holidays are expected to keep coronavirus cases high through the end of the year. That was the message from state leaders Tuesday at their weekly COVID news briefing as they urged people to gather wisely this Thanksgiving.
They’re encouraging people to get vaccinated and get tested before and after gatherings.
Another pandemic holiday season is upon us.
“I know everyone is tired of dealing with the coronavirus. But unfortunately, it’s going to be with us for some time like the flu,” said Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont.
Coronavirus cases are up 20% over the last two weeks.
The highest rates are among kids 5-11.
Unvaccinated Vermonters make up nearly 70% of our hospitalizations.
Intensive care unit beds are still strained but leaders say it’s leveled out.
“You can see the ICU numbers have fluctuated up and down but they remain in that constant area which is good,” said Mike Pieciak, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation.
Testing is at a record high with nearly 70,000 tests in the last week.
And while cases are going up among most ages, it’s actually going down among those over 65, some 14% percent over the last week.
That’s because we’re leading in booster shots for older Vermonters, those at the greatest risk.
“At a time where COVID transmission is high when we’re indoors more and getting together over the holidays, boosters really do benefit us all,” Vt. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said.
Thanksgiving and the following holidays are expected to continue to drive cases.
The state is preparing hospitals by bringing 80 subacute beds online, with another 47 in the coming weeks, 10 more ICU beds and more services through the VA.
They say there are ways you can help, too. They’re urging everyone at your table to be vaccinated and boosted. And they’re ramping up clinics across the state.
“As Dr. Fauci said yesterday, if everyone around your table is vaccinated, you shouldn’t have to worry,” the governor said.
They plan to use coronavirus testing as a tool to protect vulnerable Vermonters. Vermont is expanding testing capacity with new faster more reliable “LAMP” tests at dozens of sites statewide the day before Thanksgiving.
“LAMP tests offer the same accuracy as PCR tests but have a quicker turnaround time,” Vt. Human Services Secretary Mike Smith said.
The Biden administration is looking to quadruple the number of antigen tests by December and antiviral pills from Pfizer and Merck could receive approval in the coming weeks.
Levine also said we’re seeing some cases of the regular flu and that we are behind last year’s uptake of flu shots.
Like getting the COVID-19 vaccine, he says it will help you avoid missing school, work and other activities.
As of Tuesday, Vermont health officials reported 190 new coronavirus cases for a total of 47,805. There have been a total of 406 deaths. The state’s percent positive seven-day average is 3.9%. A total of 538,951 people have been tested, and 39,221 have recovered.
The highest case counts remain in the Northeast Kingdom, though a bit better in Orleans County this week, still high though. Infections are higher in Rutland and Bennington counties, too.
Those Vermonters who are not vaccinated are getting COVID more than four times faster than those who have gotten vaccinated.
Children 5-11 make up the most cases, double other ages.
About 30% of the state’s kids have been vaccinated, the highest in the country.
And about 61% of those 65 and older have gotten their booster shots. That’s also the highest in the country.
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