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Vt. death toll hits 507; record hospitalizations

Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 11:47 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 19, 2022 at 7:24 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont’s COVID death toll and hospitalizations reached new milestones Wednesday.

Health officials reported eight new COVID-related deaths, bringing the total number of deaths to 507 since the start of the pandemic. Almost half of those deaths (252) are in the 80+ age group. Death rates between the sexes are fairly even, with males edging females by 54%.

The hospitalization rate continues to increase, hitting 122 as of Wednesday with 25 in the ICU. Health officials reported 1,344 new coronavirus cases for a total of 93,492. Bennington, Rutland, Orleans, and Essex Counties are among the areas with the highest infection rates in the state.

Vermont DFR Commissioner Michael Pieciak says the newest numbers are good and bad. On the good side, cases have been falling steadily for more than a week from a daily high of 1,850 to about 1,600. The bad news, he says, is that 1,600 is still high and hospitalization rates are not likely to come down for a least a couple more weeks. “Hospitalizations and deaths will lag behind these case improvements. And hospitalizations are at an all-time high in Vermont and they’re high across the region and doctors, the nurses, and hospital staff are really grinding,” he said.

Pieciak says Vermont still has a very low rate of people who are fully vaccinated and boosted that end up in the hospital for COVID, and those who do are often elderly. “Where there are breakthrough cases and people do end up in the hospital, it’s generally among older Vermonters, Vermonters in their 70s, 80s, or older. So, be extra vigilant if you’re gonna be with any vulnerable people for the next few weeks. If you’re a vulnerable person by age, be cautious over the next few weeks,” he said

Of particular concern are outbreaks in long-term care facilities. There are 268 cases in those facilities statewide.

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