Waterbury’s COVID-19 cases remain tied with Barre-Montpelier – Waterbury Roundabout

Despite the slowdown in infections, however, Vermont continues to record new COVID-related deaths every few days. This week, the state surpassed 600 deaths for the pandemic. With Friday’s report, the total stands at 607 with 127 of those recorded just in 2022 so far.

Just over half – 310 – of the deaths were in people over 80, according to Health Department data. a further 37% were aged 60-79; people in their 50s accounted for an additional 7%. Only 23 deaths have been reported among people in their 30s and 40s, and only one Vermonter in their 20s has died. No deaths under the age of 20 have been recorded in state data.

The state will soon further relax the mitigation measures

This week, local schools reopened on Wednesday after the winter break. Although the state has given school districts the go-ahead to make mask-wearing indoors optional when the student population is more than 80% vaccinated, Harwood District administrators said ahead of the February recess that the district would wait after a full week of classes. to assess COVID cases for evolving protocols.

Currently, all local schools, regardless of their vaccination proportion, still require students and staff to wear masks indoors only.

Governor Phil Scott and administration officials held their weekly COVID-19 briefing on Thursday this week, where they highlighted falling hospitalization rates, falling case counts and a loosening of the strain on hospital operations across the state.

They noted that by mid-March, state guidelines will essentially suggest Vermonters individually decide what level of precaution they want to take regarding COVID-19.

“On March 14, our masking guidelines will be updated for all Vermonters to reflect a lower risk of serious illness in our communities,” said state epidemiologist Patsy Kelso, who provided the update. of the Department of Health while the Commissioner of Health, Dr Mark Levine, was absent.

Kelso noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week updated its community data taking into account hospital admissions and capacity as well as case counts.

“It makes sense because case counts are no longer an accurate measure of transmission with the widespread use of home testing,” Kelso said. “Single cases no longer have the same impact as they once did, as the majority of Vermont residents are well protected against serious illnesses through vaccination, and more treatment options are available for those at high risk. ”

The CDC still recommends that people wear masks in indoor public places in areas with high transmission, marked in red on its national map broken down by counties.

Governor Scott acknowledged this approach, but said Vermont will not focus on differences by county. “We’re going to look at this from statewide rather than by county,” he said, noting that many Vermonters spend time in different counties depending on where they live, work. or go to school. “We move around Vermont a lot,” he said.

The distinction may soon also be moot. As of Friday, only two Vermont counties — Bennington and Rutland — were rated high transmission by the CDC. Four counties were in the low category: Caledonia, Lamoille, Franklin and Grand Isle, with all others considered average.

“The trend is that all counties in Vermont are moving in the right direction,” the governor said Thursday. “We’re in good shape right now, so we should be enjoying life again.”

Kelso said state public health officials will continue to monitor new cases and outbreaks, and perform variant sequencing to monitor changes in the trajectory of the virus which “continues to surprise us and we need to be prepared. to adapt if necessary”.

School Boards to Reflect General Directions Soon

Education Secretary Dan French said he expects schools will no longer have different mitigation measures in place than the general public from March 14. That means dropping the requirement to vaccinate 80% of a school’s students before removing mask requirements, French said.

“Masks will be optional for all students and staff, regardless of their vaccination status, and this will apply to school buses,” he said, adding the qualifier: “School districts will always have the option to follow the recommendations of the State or to adopt theirs”.

Looking ahead, French said the tests would remain available to staff and students, but would “be phased out over time”.

Asked about children under 5 who cannot be vaccinated yet, Kelso said pediatric health care providers are not very concerned about young children getting seriously ill with the virus.

State officials in their remarks emphasized that Vermonters going forward will have to decide for themselves whether to wear masks around others. When asked by reporters if individuals should weigh the risks to others in addition to themselves, Scott said masks were always an option.

“They should wear masks if they want to protect themselves and others and there should be no stigma around it,” Scott said. “It works both ways.”

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