Health Care

Delayed test results show Vermont recorded nearly 3,000 Covid cases Friday

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.

Updated at 7:15 p.m.

Vermont hit 2,975 Covid-19 cases on Jan. 7, a record for a single day, according to updated data from the Vermont Department of Health.

The record was revealed once the state corrected a software error that caused thousands of positive tests not to be sent to the health department last week. The Department of Health updated its dashboard Wednesday with record highs for case counts and a seven-day case average.

The Jan. 7 record was followed by 2,357 cases on Jan. 8, 1,061 cases on Jan. 9, 939 cases on Jan. 10 and 813 cases on Jan. 11. (Cases tend to be higher later in the week since testing slows over the weekend.)

With the latest data incorporated, the seven-day case average now stands at 1,740 cases per day. The state record for a seven-day average was 1,852 cases per day as of Jan. 9. 

As state officials said Tuesday, Vermont also recorded a record high number of hospitalizations during the weekend. More than 100 people were hospitalized for Covid-19 on Jan. 10. 

That number dropped to 85 hospitalizations as of Wednesday, though that’s still far higher than the average of 50 to 60 hospitalizations in the week before New Year’s. The number of patients in intensive care has also risen: 27 people as of Wednesday, compared with 15 to 20 patients before New Year’s.

The state also added three new deaths to its data. Ten Covid-19 deaths have occurred so far in January, and 490 Vermonters have died since the pandemic began in March 2020.

A problem with the reporting system at the state’s electronic system for collecting lab results prevented about 40,000 lab results, including more than 4,000 Covid-19 tests, from being sent to the Department of Health between Jan. 7 and Jan. 10, state officials said Tuesday.

There remain some irregularities in the testing data. The department reports about 38,000 Covid tests performed on Jan. 10, far above the typical range of 2,000 to 20,000 tests per day. Department spokesperson Ben Truman said that the 38,000 tests include "many thousands of tests we would have normally received on Monday," but that the state is working on figuring out how many tests there would have been without the glitch."

On Tuesday, Jenney Samuelson, interim secretary of the Agency of Human Services, said the state’s data team is working to assign the delayed cases “to the dates that they should have been reported.”

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

In addition, Samuelson said results for 8,200 Vermonters who got a PCR test last week were delayed by four or five days. She said those people should have received their test results by the end of the day Tuesday.

The positivity rate — the percentage of PCR tests that come back positive for Covid-19 — remains high at 13%. But officials have cautioned that the positivity rate may rise as asymptomatic Vermonters opt for antigen tests over PCR tests. 

The case counts include some antigen tests, but not all, since the department relies on self-reporting of antigen test results. About 9% of cases within the past week have been “probable” cases, based on a positive antigen test plus Covid-19 symptoms or exposure.

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Erin Petenko

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