Health Care

Vermont reports highest hospitalizations of Delta surge

The Vermont Department of Health reported 461 new Covid-19 cases Friday, lowering the seven-day case average to 345 cases per day. It also disclosed one new death.

Cases have gradually descended from a one-day record peak of 595 on Nov. 10 but remain far higher than the average prior to that peak.

The state also reported 62 patients hospitalized for the virus, the highest number of Covid-19 patients in Vermont hospitals since February, when a record was set with 65 coronavirus patients. It represents a steady uptick from 58 people hospitalized as of two days ago, and 44 hospitalized as of Nov. 13. Fifteen patients are in intensive care units.

Twenty-five people have died from Covid-19 so far in November, putting the month on track to have slightly fewer deaths than the 46 reported in October. In total, 401 people have died since the beginning of the pandemic.

What do we know about breakthrough cases?

The Department of Health on Friday reported two weeks’ worth of new data on breakthrough cases, which are new infections among vaccinated people.

The report lists 1,675 new breakthrough cases as well as 39 new hospitalizations and 13 new deaths among vaccinated people.

Several categories of data that are routinely included in the biweekly report were not published, limiting the analysis that VTDigger typically conducts on breakthrough data. A note on the health department website attributes the change to the state’s newly limited contact tracing efforts this week. 

[Looking for data on breakthrough cases? See our reporting on the latest available statistics.]

However, some breakthrough data is available in the modeling report produced by the Department of Financial Regulation for the governor’s weekly press conferences.

Data from Tuesday shows that unvaccinated Vermonters’ case rates have spiked in this post-Halloween surge. Cases among unvaccinated Vermonters rose 39%, while vaccinated Vermonters’ cases rose 23%.

In total, unvaccinated Vermonters are 3.9 times more likely to get Covid-19 than vaccinated Vermonters, the state’s report shows.

Graphic courtesy of the Department of Financial Regulation

The Department of Financial Regulation also released some data on the demographics of breakthrough cases. The median age for a breakthrough case so far in November is 45, down from 49 in September. 

Unvaccinated Vermonters who get sick tend to be younger than vaccinated Vermonters. The median age of cases among those who are not fully vaccinated was only 23.

Officials have cited the breakthrough cases among older people as an example of the protective factor of the vaccines. The vaccine prevents most people from getting sick, which means that the only victims left are older Vermonters who tend to be more susceptible to severe illness. 

But it’s also worth noting that a greater percentage of older Vermonters are vaccinated in the first place, which could contribute to their greater percentage of breakthrough cases.

For hospitalizations, the Department of Financial Regulation reports that unvaccinated Vermonters are hospitalized for Covid-19 at a rate 2.2 times greater than their vaccinated peers. That gap has narrowed a bit as hospitalizations declined through Nov. 13. It’s unclear how the most recent uptick could have affected the rate.

Unvaccinated people represent 74% of recent hospitalizations and 79% of recent ICU patients, according to the report. The state does not release data on the overall rate of ICU stays and deaths among breakthrough cases.

The most recent data on breakthrough deaths from the Department of Health shows that there have been at least 72 deaths among fully vaccinated Vermonters, but they are still dying at a lower rate than unvaccinated Vermonters.

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Erin Petenko

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