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Vt. COVID cases trending down

Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 10:33 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 25, 2022 at 7:10 PM EST
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Gov. Phil Scott Tuesday said that while the latest data indicates COVID case counts are trending down, health officials continue to keep a close eye on hospital capacity and say it is imperative that Vermonters continue to take precautions.

New England’s omicron cases appear to have peaked and are beginning to dip. Vermont is close behind, with cases now averaging around 1,000 a day, never coming close to the 6,000 worst-case scenario forecast the state was projecting.

“We want to continue to see those trends go down and see some much-continued improvement before we are comfortable that things are significantly different than they are at the moment,” said DF Commissioner Mike Pieciak.

The state is forecasting cases continuing to drop through next month. “But just like everything else with this virus, there are no guarantees,” cautioned Gov. Phil Scott.

Hospitalizations remain high but officials say new admissions appear to be stabilizing. New data sheds light on who is being admitted. Out of Tuesday’s 101 people in the hospital with COVID, 67 were admitted because of COVID while they tested positive after they showed for other reasons.

“Every one of these patients are treated and attended to as appropriate for their COVID status. That requires significant hospital resources and manpower,” said Vt. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine.

Vermont’s relatively low infection rate is helping hospitals. Levine says if the state had the same rate as the U.S. average, hospitalizations would more than double to around 250 patients. “When you have a less severe variant you may have less people in the hospital but when you have way more people with that variant you’ll have more people in the hospital proportionally. and we’re not seeing that happen at this time,” he said.

And though omicron is milder, Levine says intentionally catching it to “get it over with” is a bad idea. You may infect someone who can’t be vaccinated or is vulnerable and we still don’t know the full effects of “long COVID with omicron.

To keep hospitalization rates low and prepare for whatever variant comes next, Governor Scott again encouraged everyone to get their shots. “As we keep moving forward, Vermonters can help themselves and each other by doing the things we’ve talked about for months -- get vaccinated and stay up to date,” he said. That means getting a booster, he said. There are 200,000 eligible Vermonters who have not done so yet.

One serious area of concern remains outbreaks at long-term care facilities. There are now 325 cases in 25 facilities. And even though those residents are vaccinated and boosted, they are still at a much greater risk of hospitalization and death because of their age. Health officials say that despite all the talk about omicron, most of Vermont’s recent deaths are patients who suffered from delta.

As of Tuesday, Vermont health officials reported 420 new coronavirus cases for a total of 100,092. There have been a total of 523 deaths. The state’s percent positive seven-day average is 11.4%. The current number of hospitalizations is 101 with 22 in the ICU.

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