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Covid levels still ‘low,’ health department reports, though some metrics tick up


Vermont’s Covid-19 community levels were “low” in the past week, the state Department of Health reported Wednesday.

Several Covid metrics rose compared to the week before, but remained within the department’s range for low community levels. Hospital admissions for the disease rose to 41 this week, up from 31 last week, the department reported. In total, 39 people were hospitalized for the disease as of Wednesday, including four in intensive care.

Covid cases also ticked up slightly, going from 423 in the previous week to 455 in the latest report, the department reported. Covid case data is primarily based on PCR test results and does not include at-home antigen testing.

The department also included data from Burlington’s latest wastewater testing, which revealed a record-breaking spike in Covid levels late last week. However, “​​given the absence of other indicators of a true sudden spike, it is unclear whether this reflects a genuine increase or an anomaly,” the report said.

One other wastewater testing site, in Brighton, also reported a significant spike in Covid levels, although not quite as high as Burlington’s. Nine wastewater testing sites scattered throughout the state reported minor increases or decreases. 

Bennington County had “high” Covid community levels as of Thursday, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vermont’s 13 other counties reported low Covid levels.

Most national Covid metrics declined in the past week, according to The New York Times. New York and New Jersey, which experienced Covid surges after the December holidays, have reported double-digit declines in cases and hospitalizations in the past two weeks.

Vermont hit a new benchmark in its vaccination campaign this week: The department reported 33% of Vermonters 5 and older have received the bivalent booster dose, a version of the Covid vaccine targeted toward the latest variants. 

The state hit that milestone as the federal government announced it would consider whether to recommend annual Covid boosters targeted toward the most common variant each year, similar to the nation’s annual flu vaccine campaign. It’s unclear at this point how the plan would be implemented in Vermont.

About 80% of all Vermonters have received a full initial course of the Covid vaccine, according to the health department.

The department reported five additional deaths from Covid this week, raising January’s total to 13 deaths. In total, 889 people have died of Covid in Vermont since the beginning of the pandemic.





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