Vermont’s governor and members of his administration Tuesday had a cautiously optimistic tone when saying it appears the state has turned a big corner in the current COVID-19 wave.
"The trends are encouraging," said Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont, referring to figures discussed Tuesday that show the state’s cases are down 30-40% since the peak of the omicron wave.
However, health officials cautioned Vermont is not out of the woods yet — far from it — since the small state has still been seeing more than a thousand daily COVID infections on average this past week.
"Case rates lower than the peak are far from zero," noted Dr. Mark Levine, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health. "It is not going away just yet. We’ve seen how quickly the virus can and does change."
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The Vermont Department of Health urges folks to keep up the vigilance when it comes to disease prevention.
NECN asked state leaders how much faith Vermonters should put in that downward trend at this point, since it’s widely accepted many results from rapid at-home tests are never reported to the state.
"I would still have a lot of confidence in it," Levine said in response to the question, noting more than 5,000 positive test results from at-home tests were filed properly over the last month — on top of results from testing sites.
More telling, the administration said, other numbers back up that the COVID situation is getting better here.
The data, available here, include hospitalizations that are lower than they were at the peak, improvements in other Northeast states that had omicron hit earlier, and fewer traces of virus in the wastewater in Vermont’s largest city.
"Similar to what was being seen in Boston and Massachusetts in terms of their wastewater reduction, and then their case reduction, as well," noted Mike Pieciak, Vermont’s chief modeler of COVID-19 data.
Although Gov. Scott noted Vermont’s hospitals are still highly stressed, he said the decline in Vermonters hospitalized for COVID-19 is what he focuses on and what he finds most encouraging.
"If we keep focusing on hospitalizations, the health of Vermonters, I think that’s the best metric to use," Gov. Scott said. "And it’s consistent, so that’s what we’ve done since the beginning."
To help keep those numbers going in the right direction, the Vermont Department of Health said it wants Vermonters to get their booster shots. According to the Scott administration, there are roughly 200,000 Vermonters who are eligible for boosters, but who haven’t yet gotten them.
Click here for more information on getting a vaccine or booster in Vermont.