On March 8, 2023

Covid levels remain ‘low’ as the state stops reporting PCR testing data

By Kate O’Farrell/VTDigger

Vermont’s Covid-19 community levels remained “low” this past week, the state Dept. of Health reported Wednesday, March 1, rounding out the month of February with consistently low community levels. 

The number of cases, hospital admissions and people in Vermont hospitals for Covid have remained relatively flat in recent weeks as XBB became the dominant strain in Vermont. The state reported 37 hospital admissions for Covid in the past week, compared to 42 the week before.

As of March 1, 34 people were hospitalized in Vermont for Covid, including four patients in intensive care, according to the health department.

The department reported 350 Covid cases in the past week, compared to 433 cases the week before.

Health department spokesperson Ben Truman said in an email that the department stopped reporting PCR testing data on Feb. 15 because it was no longer “a good picture of Covid information in Vermont.”

The department has reported PCR test data since March 2020 to contextualize Covid case numbers; but for months now, PCR tests have not been available to all who want them — and the state does not track at-home test results. Only about 500 PCR tests per day were being performed in Vermont as of Feb. 11, according to the department data. At the peak of the virus last January 2022, more than 10,000 Vermonters were tested for the virus every day.

In total, more than 3.9 million PCR tests have been performed in Vermont since the start of the pandemic.

The number of people arriving at emergency departments with Covid symptoms is similar to last February 2022, when the state was recovering from the peak of the Omicron wave, according to dept. data.

Of Vermont’s 14 counties, 12 had “low” Covid community levels in the past week, according to the CDC. Bennington and Rutland were the only counties that reported “medium” Covid community levels. Both the CDC and Vermont Department of Health’s Covid levels are based on Covid cases, hospital admissions and the percent of state hospital beds taken up by Covid patients.

The health department reported eight additional Covid deaths this week, bringing February’s total to 23. In total, 925 people have died of Covid in Vermont since the pandemic began in March 2020.

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