Vermont sees new wave of COVID infections, hospitalizations
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - COVID is on the comeback in Vermont. Since March, the state has been riding another wave of COVID infections and hospitalizations as the BA.2 variant blankets our region.
Vermont hit its highest rate of COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths this past winter.
Following the January peak, all three of those metrics dropped dramatically through the month of February until March when cases and hospitalizations began slowly trending up again, and they have been steadily increasing ever since.
Since the week of March 6, we’ve seen a steady increase in cases confirmed with PCR tests. But because many people aren’t reporting positive results from at-home antigen tests, the total number of infections is likely higher.
Hospitalizations have also gone up since March, with Monday marking the highest since February. The majority of people in the hospital are older and fully vaccinated.
“Since Vermont is leading the nation in the percentage of its citizens who are vaccinated, that means that the people who can get infected with COVID and can get sick from it are mostly vaccinated,” said Dr. Tim Lahey, an infectious disease expert at the UVM Medical Center.
All of this is to confirm Vermont is in the midst of another surge, the last being between November and January. It’s a trend Lahey says experts have been expecting.
“Peak and a valley, and a peak and a valley, over and over again for the coming months. The hope is that each wave is a little bit smaller and a little bit less dangerous than the previous one, and so far that’s the pattern we’re seeing,” he said.
Those peaks and valleys in cases are even evident on a weekly basis.
Lahey explains they’re likely correlated to a combination of emerging variants including the latest version of omicron blanketing our region, BA.2, and relaxed restrictions.
“We want to be able to live our lives, but we also want to recognize when those are leading to enough causes and enough hospitalizations that we have to be more careful again,” Lahey said.
On the other hand, while case counts and hospitalizations are on the rise again, health department data shows Vermont’s death rate has continued to decline since the winter peak.
Lahey stresses protection from infection is only partial.
“The challenge is there are no guarantees in life, and lightning can strike even the healthiest person,” he said.
But Lahey says getting a booster is still your best bet at avoiding hospitalization and death.
That first booster shot is available and recommended for everyone 12 and up. People who have received that first booster are considered up to date on their vaccination. There is also a second booster currently available for people age 50 and up and those with compromised immune systems.
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