The number of new COVID-19 cases in Vermont increased 26% in the last week and 8% over the last two weeks, but Gov. Phil Scott said Tuesday he didn’t believe reimposing mask mandates would help reduce the spread of the virus.
Speaking at his regular weekly virus briefing, Scott said he continues to recommend that people wear masks during indoor activities.
“I don’t think my saying that, or us mandating that, is going to get one single person to wear a mask that doesn’t want to wear a mask. The enforcement is the challenge. Compliance is the challenge,” Scott said.
“I think that we would take our eyes away, and our focus away, from doing what we can to get through this, it would just create one more controversy,” Scott said.
Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said that 70% to 75% of the new cases are among people who are unvaccinated.
Statistics show those who are unvaccinated are almost four times more likely than the vaccinated to become infected and hospitalized with COVID-19. Still, there are about 62,100 eligible Vermonters who have not been vaccinated.
The officials could not fully explain why Vermont is seeing an increase in cases now driven by the delta variant and why they haven’t fallen off as quickly as they have as in other, less vaccinated parts of the country and the world where cases rose steeply and then fell off steeply.
“It’s such a heavily vaccinated region that we’re seeing the impact of the vaccine on much of the population, but we’re also seeing that it drags out the kind of course, that all the states have been having,” Levine said. “And it’s a much flatter curve, so you stay in a sort of plateau kind of fashion for a longer period of time and you’re not going to see that abrupt steep drop.”