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BENNINGTON — The community COVID level in Bennington County in Vermont, Rensselaer and Washington Counties in New York, and Berkshire County in Massachusetts is high, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The level is based on hospital admissions for COVID and the percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID patients. Please take extra care in the following ways:

Everyone should wear a mask indoors and when using public transportation.

Everyone should stay up to date with COVID vaccines. A second booster is recommended for some. New data from the British government indicates that the second booster is a powerful tool, especially in preventing severe disease and hospitalizations. The COVID Resource Center is open 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. Monday through Saturday. No appointment is necessary.

Those who are immune compromised or have certain conditions that put them at greater risk may want to take extra precautions, including wearing a N95 or KN95 mask, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated areas, and staying at least 6 feet from others.

The very highest risk patients—like cancer patients, people who have had an organ transplant, or a similar immune-suppressed condition—are eligible to receive a special medication before they are infected or exposed to COVID. Given in advance of infection, it is designed to provide more protection than vaccines alone. It’s called EVUSHELD™ by AstraZeneca, and it is a long-acting monoclonal antibody combination for patients who are at least 12 years old and who are not expected to have mounted an adequate immune response to vaccination. Talk to your doctor if you think you are eligible.

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Everyone should get tested if symptoms arise.

Many people who test positive are eligible for treatment. Treatment works best when it is taken early in the disease.

For questions, including what to do if you test positive, call the COVID-19 Information Hotline 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Friday at 802-440-8844.

By following these guidelines, we can ensure that we all weather this increase in cases safely and decrease the sickness and disruption COVID causes for ourselves and others.

Marie George, MD, FIDSA, is an infectious disease specialist at SVMC Infectious Disease, part of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center and Southwestern Vermont Health Care in Bennington.


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