Health Care

Vermont Covid levels remain ‘low,’ health department reports

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Vermont has “low” Covid-19 community levels, the state Department of Health reported Wednesday.

Some Covid metrics rose this week — such as hospital admissions for the disease, which have gradually trended upward since late July, an analysis of department reports shows. It reported 52 hospital admissions in the past week for an average of about seven per day.

That remains far below the peak of the Omicron surge in January, when state hospitals admitted about 20 patients a day for Covid.

Data from the health department also shows that intensive care visits for the disease remain low. The state had three people in intensive care for Covid as of Wednesday, in line with the average for the previous month.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention bumped up the Covid rating of three Vermont counties last Thursday, raising Orleans, Lamoille and Caledonia counties from “low” to “medium” Covid levels. Rutland and Bennington counties were also rated “medium” level counties as they have been in previous weeks.

The CDC and health department ratings are based on case counts, hospital admissions and the percent of hospital beds occupied by Covid patients. The CDC recommends that high-risk people in medium-level counties take action to protect themselves from Covid, such as wearing masks.

The department reported 550 Covid cases in Vermont in the past week, down from 581 the week before. The case data does not include at-home antigen tests and is primarily based on PCR test results.

The department only reported wastewater data for one facility — Burlington — this week, citing a “disruption in laboratory processing” that could affect data for the next two weeks. Burlington reported low Covid levels in its wastewater samples.

The department also changed the way it reports outbreaks, transitioning from “active outbreaks” — places with active Covid cases — to recently reported outbreaks. On its data page, the department said reporting new outbreaks “provides a clearer picture of current outbreak activity” than the old system.

Vermont has had 12 outbreaks in school and child care settings in the past week, along with one long-term care outbreak and one health care facility outbreak, the department reported. 

The department has reported no additional deaths this week, but has reported a total of four deaths so far in September. That puts this month on track to be lower than July and August, which each had more than 10 deaths.

The number of Covid deaths is based on death certificates that list Covid as a cause or probable cause of death, according to the health department. Because of the time it takes to investigate deaths and prepare death certificates, deaths can sometimes be added retroactively, raising the total for previous weeks and months.

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Erin Petenko

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