Vermont sets new highs for COVID-19 cases

State still has adequate space in its hospitals for patients; nearly half of 5-to-11-year-olds fully vaxxed

BRATTLEBORO — The Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus has begun to hit Vermont hard.

The Vermont Department of Health reported Jan. 4 that 68,957 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the state since March 2020, including 3,962 people in Windham County.

According to the Health Department, 1,727 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Jan. 4. Added to 2,625 new cases reported for the period between Dec. 30 and Jan. 3, this makes 4,352 new cases since Dec. 29.

There were 1,471 cases reported on Dec. 31, the highest one-day total since the pandemic began, surpassing the record high of 1,330 cases reported on Dec. 29.

There were 577 cases reported on Jan. 1, 473 cases reported on Jan. 2, and 245 cases reported on Jan. 3.

The death toll in Vermont remained at 480 as of Jan. 4. Over the holiday period, there were nine deaths in Vermont between Dec. 30 and Jan. 3, including one in Windham County. Vermont has the 12th-fewest COVID-19 deaths per capita in the United States, according to state data.

There were a total of 60 deaths in Vermont in December from COVID-19. That's higher than November's total of 42 deaths, but fewer than the record 72 deaths that were recorded in December 2020.

According to the Health Department, as of Jan. 4, 83 patients in Vermont were hospitalized with COVID-19, with 19 in intensive care. The highest rates of hospitalizations are occurring among those over age 65.

Vermont still has an adequate number of hospital beds, according to state data, as the state has had the fourth-fewest COVID-19 hospital admissions per capita in the U.S. over the past week.

Nationwide, a total of 1,082,549 new coronavirus cases were reported on Jan. 3, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. As of Jan. 3, the seven-day average of new cases in the United States is 480,274, the highest in the world.

Researchers say while omicron is far more contagious than any previous coronavirus variant, it appears for now that it is not as lethal as previous variants. Still, more than 1,000 Americans are dying daily from COVID-19.

Despite shortages of test kits, data released on Jan. 4 show that about 8,000 tests a week as administered in Vermont, which had the second highest rate of testing in the U.S.

However, the number of positive tests between Dec. 26 and Jan. 2 has increased by 117 percent.

State data also show that Vermonters over age 18 who are not fully vaccinated were 22 times more likely to be hospitalized compared to those fully vaccinated and boosted, and they were 23 times more likely to die.

As of this week, 42 percent of Vermonters age 5 to 11 have been fully vaccinated, which is tops in the United States. Meanwhile, 89.3 percent of Vermonters have had at least one dose of vaccine, with 77.4 percent of all Vermonters fully vaccinated.

According to the state's data, a surge in cases between Christmas and New Year's Day happened as expected, with the average number of daily new cases in Vermont rising from about 400 before Christmas to more than 900 after New Year's Day. Those under age 19 have the highest rates of new cases.

The latest state modeling forecasts a continued sharp increase in new cases over the next four weeks, and fatalities are not expected to decrease from their current levels.

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