Health Care

Vermont reports 5 more Covid-19 deaths but case average is declining

Note: This story is more than a week old. Given how quickly the Covid-19 pandemic is evolving, we recommend that you read our latest coverage here.

Mark Podgwaite of the Waterbury Ambulance Service assembles doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at a clinic in Berlin on Saturday, Oct. 2. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

The Vermont Department of Health reported five new Covid-19 deaths over the weekend, including one new death so far in October.

That brings September’s death toll to 42, since several deaths were retroactively added to its data in recent days. In total, 323 people have died since the beginning of the pandemic. 

Yet, there is some evidence of better days ahead based on recent case counts. The seven-day case average has declined steadily since Sept. 26, roughly a week’s worth of data. That includes 192 reported Monday.

The average now stands at 166 cases per day, compared with 218 cases per day at its peak in mid-September. It’s still fairly high — almost as high as the peak of cases in spring 2021 — but the drop could indicate further improvements in the coming weeks.

Some of the most vulnerable Vermonters are also beginning to get their third shot of the Pfizer vaccine, giving them additional protection against the virus. According to the department, more than 10,000 people have received the booster so far. 

You can qualify for the booster if you are 65 or older, have any of several high-risk health conditions, work at an indoor job with exposure to others or are a person of color. You must also have received your second dose of the Pfizer vaccine six months ago or more.

The department also reports that 88% of Vermonters 12 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, including about 96% of Vermonters 65 and older.

New holiday guidance

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidance Oct. 1 that outlines the safest way to celebrate holidays for the upcoming holiday season.

“Attending gatherings to celebrate events and holidays increases your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19,” the guidance said. “The safest way to celebrate is virtually, with people who live with you, or outside and at least 6 feet apart from others.”

Among its recommendations is to get vaccinated and to delay travel if you are not fully vaccinated. It has separate recommendations for traveling if you are unvaccinated or traveling with an unvaccinated family member.

It also recommended outdoor gatherings over indoor gatherings and staying home if you feel sick. Another suggestion: “Have conversations ahead of time to understand expectations” around people’s risk level and personal safety.

If you decide to have an indoor gathering, the CDC recommended opening doors and windows and running a fan to increase air circulation in the space.

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Erin Petenko

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