Gov. Phil Scott on Monday condemned the “racist response” to his administration’s decision to make Black, indigenous, and people of color of any age eligible for a coronavirus vaccine before residents of other races.
The state granted preferential vaccine access April 1 to the BIPOC community and anyone living in their households. The Republican governor called their disparity in vaccination rates compared to non-Hispanic whites “unacceptable.”
About 20 percent of the state’s BOPIC population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared with an about 33 percent vaccination rate for non-Hispanic white residents, Scott said in a statement Monday.
“In addition to the greater risk of hospitalization among BIPOC community members, the pace of vaccination for these individuals is too far behind the white population,” Scott said in the statement.
Vermonters of other races ages 40 and over became eligible Monday, with those 30 and over scheduled for eligibility April 12 and all others 16 and up eligible April 19.
Scott said his office, the state Health Department and “those hardworking individuals getting us vaccinated, have been subjected” recently “to vitriolic and inappropriate comments in social media and other forums regarding this decision.”
“And it is evidence that many Americans, and many Vermonters, still have a lot to learn about the impacts of racism in our country and how it has influenced public policy over the years,” he said in the statement.
The presence of the virus in Vermont has been increasing in recent weeks. Officials say the state is in a race to vaccinate as many people as possible to help stop the spread.
Officials blame the increase on a number of more-transmissible variants of the virus that are being found in Vermont and among young people who are more socially active but not yet eligible to be vaccinated.
No Vermonters died of COVID-19 over the past day, the Department of Health reported. The state’s death toll remains at 229.
Twenty-five Vermonters were hospitalized with the disease as of Tuesday, and five of those patients were in intensive care.
The health department reported 106 new cases of COVID-19 in Vermont on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases since the start of the pandemic to 20,373.
All but one of Vermont’s 14 counties reported new cases over the past day. Chittenden County had 44; Rutland County had 11; Orleans County had 10; Caledonia County had nine; Franklin County had seven; Washington County had six; Bennington County had five; Lamoille, Orange and Windham counties each had three; Addison and Grand Isle counties each had two; and Windsor County had one. Essex County had no new cases.
Bennington County’s number of active cases has risen to 46.17 per 10,000 residents, while the statewide average has also risen, 56.14. Windham County’s numbers are also up, to 29.17 active cases per 10,000 residents. The hottest spots in the state continue to be Orleans and Caledonia counties, with 118.68 and 97.17 active cases per 10,000 residents, respectively. In the Northeast, New Jersey’s Sussex County continues to have the highest numbers, falling slightly to 150.39.
Bennington County has reported 107 new cases over the past two weeks, and Windham County has reported 85. Chittenden County, Vermont’s largest county, has had 891 over the same period.
Bennington County continues to have the highest infection rate of COVID-19 in Vermont, at 485.5 cases per 10,000 residents since the beginning of the pandemic. Chittenden County is second, at 397.9, while the rate in Windham County is 268.3 per 10,000.
So far, 361,294 people have been tested. The reported statewide seven-day average for positive tests stands at 2.2 percent, the same as Bennington County.
The number of Vermonters reported to have recovered from COVID-19 has risen by 119, to 16,698.
The statistics supplied by the Vermont Department of Health at midday each day are accurate as of the end of the previous day. The information is preliminary and subject to change.
BENNINGTON, WINDHAM COUNTIES REMAIN AT ‘HIGH RISK’
With a seven-day average of daily new cases per 100,000 residents of 21.7, Bennington County remains in the “high risk” range, according to the nonprofit Covid Act Now. Windham County, where the seven-day average has risen to 17.3 daily new cases, is considered high risk as well.
Among Vermont’s neighbors, Berkshire County in Massachusetts and Washington County in New York remain rated as very high risk, while New York’s Rensselaer County, Franklin County in Massachusetts and Cheshire County in New Hampshire are rated as high risk.
42.2% OF VERMONTERS NOW VACCINATED
The Department of Health reported that 231,226 Vermonters, or 42.2 percent of all those over the age of 16, had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Tuesday. That’s an increase of 2.1 percentage points since Saturday, the last day the numbers were updated.
According to the state, 141,200 people have completed their vaccination, and 90,000 have received a first dose.
In Bennington County, 47.1 percent of residents have received vaccine, and in Windham County, 38.4.
So far, the state has received 446,700 doses of vaccine, 81.3 percent of which have been administered.
VACCINE APPOINTMENTS AVAILABLE FOR VERMONTERS 40 AND OLDER
Vermonters age 40 and older are now able to make an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Going online to healthvermont.gov/MyVaccine is the fastest way to make an appointment, the state advises, and there are enough slots at sites throughout Vermont for everyone who is eligible.
To use the Health Department’s registration system, click on the “Make an appointment” button at healthvermont.gov/MyVaccine. Those who prefer to make an appointment through a participating pharmacy can find links on the same page to Kinney Drugs, CVS and Walgreens.
Anyone who is unable to make their appointment online, or who needs to speak with someone in a language other than English can call 855-722-7878.
The next groups’ eligibility dates are April 12 for those age 30 and older, and April 19 for those age 16 and older.