Vermont leads country in growth of Covid case rate, reports recent record of 55 hospitalizations
Updated at 5:35 p.m.
Vermont reported 107 new Covid-19 cases and two new deaths Wednesday, along with a sharp uptick in Vermonters who are hospitalized with the virus, according to data from the state Department of Health .
Daily case counts have declined throughout the week, but the seven-day average remains above 200 cases. The state reported a record-high single-day total of 345 cases on Saturday.
Hospitalization numbers have remained in the 30s and 40s since early September, but on Wednesday that count rose to a recent high of 55, including 17 people in intensive care. Two more people were hospitalized with suspected cases.
The state reported two new deaths Wednesday, with both victims over the age of 60. Vermont has reported 21 deaths so far in October and 349 deaths throughout the pandemic.
The seven-day average test positivity rate is 3.4%.
Vermont’s case numbers remain elevated while Covid appears to be receding in most states. In recent days, the national case rate has declined to a level last seen in early August.
According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , Vermont now has the 14th highest seven-day average case rate of any state. It has also had the fastest-growing case rate in the country over the past two weeks, according to CDC data analyzed by the New York Times .
Recent spread of the virus has been especially high in Orleans County . According to CDC data, the case rate in Orleans County over the past seven days was 865 per 100,000 people, more than triple the statewide rate of 259. Orleans has the tenth-highest case rate among all U.S. counties, according to the Times tracker.
Orleans also has the second-lowest vaccination rate in the state, with 76.3% of eligible residents having received at least one dose. That’s compared to 89.3% statewide, according to the state’s vaccine dashboard .
State officials said at a weekly press conference Tuesday that the course of the virus in the coming weeks remains uncertain .
As of Tuesday, Covid cases in Vermont had risen 10% in the previous seven days and 39% in the previous 14 days, said Mike Pieciak, commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulation.
Gov. Phil Scott, who has resisted calls to reinstate mitigation measures, said “it’s going to be a bumpy ride” as Covid-19 becomes an endemic virus and flu season approaches. Scott called on Vermonters to take “personal responsibility” to protect vulnerable people and get vaccinated if they haven’t already.
Responding to the state’s elevated case rate, Scott speculated that Vermont is likely to catch up to the rest of the country within weeks. “Before the variant, we were one of the last states to evolve off from the original Covid, so we're lagging a little bit behind most other states,” Scott said.
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