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Vermont seeing post-Christmas COVID bump

Published: Jan. 12, 2021 at 6:48 AM EST
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont saw its highest number of new COVID cases in the last week -- 50% more than the previous record -- and it appears to stem from a holiday season surge that could keep climbing.

“Cases have never been higher in the United States,” said Vt. DFR Commissioner Mike Pieciak. He says cases are surging around the country with places like California facing overwhelmed hospitals, soaring deaths, and new cases skyrocketing. Even the Northeast saw a 17% increase, adding more than 100,000 new cases last week and hospitalizations up 20% since Christmas.

“We are experiencing a holiday surge,” Pieciak said. According to his latest modeling, it took Vermont only six days to add another 1,000 cases in a post-Christmas similar to what happened in the weeks after Halloween. From May through September Vermont had a total of 871 cases. But in just the last five days the state has racked up 888 new cases. One forecast predicts the potential to hit 300 cases per day by early February.

Pieciak says even with current case growth, the state is not in the same boat as California. “We remain confident that even with the recent increases and projected growth, hospitals will have necessary resources to treat those who need care,” he said.

Vermont’s ICU capacity is stable right now. State officials say case counts would need to be upwards of 380 per day for two weeks to approach ICU capacity. And they say that’s likely not going to happen, especially if people commit to following the health and safety measures.

VACCINE UPDATE

DFR Commissioner Mike Pieciak says Vermont is tied for first in the Northeast per capita in administering the vaccine and sixth in the country. The state is still moving forward with its age-based approach, targeting older people first with the vaccine. Levine says they will provide further details later this week on how people can sign up to get the shot.

So far Vermont has administered 26,600 doses. That includes almost 1,800 people who’ve gotten their second dose. Overall, about 4.3% percent of the eligible population has been reached.

PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM TAKING APPLICATIONS

Initial applications are now being accepted for the next round of Paycheck Protection Program loans. Those interested can apply through the Small Business Administration. They will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, so the governor said to be prepared and start filling out the application now.

VERMONT AUTHORITIES PREPARE FOR PROTESTS

Governor Scott had a message to Vermonters that would attend armed protests ahead of inauguration day on the 20th. “Don’t be played. Don’t be used as a pawn by extreme groups to tear apart democracy,” Scott said.

The FBI is monitoring reports that demonstrators will be armed at protests around the country. Public Safety Commissioner Mike Schirling says the state is working with other local and federal authorities but declined to specify their plans.

Scott reiterated that the president needs to be held accountable for the crisis at the Capitol last Wednesday. “He had a hand in it, if not a major role in it,” Scott said.

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