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BA.2.12.1 sub-variant gaining foothold in our region

Published: May. 10, 2022 at 9:29 AM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont’s latest COVID wave continues to build, and Vt. health officials Tuesday said a new sub-variant of the virus is gaining a foothold.

Vt. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine says the BA.2.12.1 variant now makes up 30% of cases in New England and up to 60% in upstate New York. He says its virulence is still being studied but that those who are vaccinated continue to avoid the most serious outcomes. Levine says a large number of those who do end up in the hospital failed to get a least one of the booster vaccinations.

Levine says with virus rates on the rise, it’s important for individuals to reexamine their personal risk by masking in indoor spaces and getting tested. He says older people and those with underlying conditions continue to be the most vulnerable, even when fully vaccinated, and that they should be sure to ask their health providers for antiviral drugs like Paxlovid, which the state now has an abundance of.

Levine says with testing results continuing to be more sporadic and unreliable, the health department will discontinue its COVID online dashboard starting May 18th. “Right now, we believe the data that’s available and the opportunity for people to interpret it -- with or without our guidance -- is always going to be present,” Levine said. He says other weekly reports providing overall syndromic surveillance data, like waste water reports, will still be made available.

As of Monday, Vermont health officials reported 174 new coronavirus cases for a total of 126,937. There have been a total of 644 deaths. The state’s percent positive seven-day average is 13.1%. The current number of hospitalizations is 74 with 11 in the ICU.

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