Covid-19 updates, Featured, State News

Scott to the unvaxed: ‘You will get infected’

By Ethan Weinstein

With cases rising country-wide, Governor Phil Scott and his administration focused their weekly Covid press conference on encouraging Vermonters to get their booster shots and faulting the unvaccinated for the state’s current surge.

“It’s become clear that this isn’t going away anytime soon,” Scott said. “If you’re still unvaccinated, I want to be clear, you will get infected, it’s just a matter of time.”

While Vermont’s Covid cases have dropped 15% in the last week, they’ve increased over the last 14 days. The state has also seen a 10% drop in testing this past week, which likely accounts for some of the most recent decrease. Mike Pieciak, who oversees the state’s Covid modelling, said that the cases have only likely leveled out temporarily.

Courtesy Vt. Dept. of Health & CDC
Covid-19 deaths by vaccinations status per 100,000 Vermonters over 18 in the past five weeks.

The statistics Pieciak highlighted worked to emphasize the necessity of booster doses. Over the last six weeks, the unvaccinated have been 30 times more likely to wind up in the hospital and 34 times more likely to die than those who have been vaccinated and boosted, Pieciak said. In the past week, that’s continued, as the unvaccinated accounted for 72% of hospitalizations and 77% of intensive care unit patients, according to Pieciak.

Gov. Scott said that he did not think it fair to create additional restrictions for the entire state when most Vermonters have been vaccinated.

“I simply can’t justify going back into a state of emergency … when the problem is being driven by less than 5% of that population, meaning unvaccinated adults,” he said.

The state will also prioritize vaccinating children ages 5-11. Education Sec. Mike French said that the success of high schools in comparison to elementary schools demonstrates anecdotally the positive effect vaccinating students will have on keeping schools open. Currently, 49.4% of those ages 5-11 have received their first dose, and 25.2% have received two shots.

On the other end of the spectrum, 99% of Vermonters 65+ have been vaccinated with 70% also receiving a booster dose. According to the CDC, Dec. 13: the ration of people 65+ who have died from the coronavirus in the U.S. is 1 in 100. Older people make up 75% of the U.S. death toll. In Vermont, it’s 89% — 387 of the total 436 deaths due to Covid have been people age 60+.

Rutland County reported 60 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the 14-day case total to 894. Meanwhile, Windsor County reported 21 new cases on Dec. 14, with 793 cases in the last 14 days. The statewide, seven-day rolling case average is 414 as of Tuesday, Dec. 14.

Courtesy Vt. Dept. of Health
Chart shows Covid cases in Vermont through the holiday season in 2020 (orange) vs. 2021.

Omicron, the newest variant of Covid-19 virus, has been detected in all the states surrounding Vermont, but has not been reported here as of Dec. 14.

“We will certainly inform Vermonters when — not if — Omicron is identified in our state,” Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said.

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