Vermont reported a record 487 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, its highest daily count since the start of the pandemic, prompting the governor to raise concerns about the impact on hospital capacity in the coming weeks.
“If we stayed at this level of cases, based on our current hospitalization rate, there is potential to see the number of people currently hospitalized increase to over 80, which would be a significant strain on the system,” said Republican Gov. Phil Scott in a statement.
A total of 55 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Thursday, including 19 in intensive care, according to the Vermont Health Department.
Unvaccinated Vermonters account for 70%-85% of hospitalizations and intensive care unit stays, and are directly contributing to the strain on Vermont’s hospital capacity, Scott said.
“Enough is enough, it’s time to step up and get vaccinated – something over 90% of your fellow Vermont adults have done,” he said.
He also urged Vermonters to get their kids vaccinated and get their booster shots when eligible.
Thursday’s case number could be driven by Halloween and other gatherings, he said, and urged Vermonters to gather wisely by wearing masks in indoor settings, even if vaccinated; being mindful of the size of gatherings; and encouraging guests at large events to be vaccinated.
Some lawmakers, school nurses, and other medical professionals have called on the governor to reinstate a state of emergency that would allow for a mask mandate. Scott said again Thursday that that is unnecessary and Vermonters need to think about what they can do to protect those at risk of hospitalization and deaths.
“For those choosing not to receive the vaccine, you have an added responsibility to wear a mask indoors, keep 6 feet apart and get tested regularly, but certainly before gathering or avoid gatherings altogether,” Scott said. “Choosing not to take these steps is leading to unnecessary illness, hospitalizations and death in our communities.”
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Six new deaths were also reported Thursday. The state’s three counties with the lowest rates of vaccination account for 25% of Thursday’s cases but only make up 10% of Vermont’s population, Scott said.
More than 90% of Vermonters ages 12 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine against COVID-19 and more than 80% have been fully vaccinated.