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THE NUMBERS

Four Vermonters died of COVID-19 over the past two days, the Vermont Department of Health reported. The state’s death toll is now 197.

Thirty-eight Vermonters are hospitalized with the disease, and 10 of those patients are in intensive care units.

The health department reported 107 new cases of COVID-19 in Vermont on Saturday, and 129 cases on Sunday, for a total of 236. The new cumulative total of 14,493 cases is 242 higher than Friday’s total. The department did not explain the discrepancy.

All 14 of Vermont’s counties reported new cases over the past two days. Chittenden County had 75 new cases, Franklin County had 52, Addison County had 20, Bennington County had 18, Rutland County had 15, Windham County had 13, Washington County had 10, Orange County had nine, Lamoille County had eight, Windsor County had five, Orleans County had four, Grand Isle County had three, Essex County had two, and Caledonia County had one.

Bennington County continues to have the highest infection rate of COVID-19 in Vermont, at 385.1 cases per 10,000 residents since the beginning of the pandemic. Chittenden County is second, at 283.4, while the rate in Windham County is 216.3.

Bennington County has reported 172 new cases over the past two weeks, and Windham County has reported 79. Chittenden County, Vermont’s largest county, has had 444 over the same period.

So far, 324,864 people have been tested. The reported statewide seven-day average for positive tests dipped slightly to 1.6 percent, down from 1.8 percent on Friday.

The number of Vermonters reported to have recovered from COVID-19 rose by 271 since Friday, to 11,649.

The health department reported that 518 people were being monitored for the disease as of Sunday, an increase of 77 from Friday. Of these, 219 are visitors to Vermont.

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.

STATE: 15.5% OF ALL VERMONTERS NOW VACCINATED

The Vermont Department of Health reported Saturday that 86,086 Vermonters have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. That represents 15.5 percent of all Vermonters over the age of 16.

The figure is 16.5 percent for Bennington County, and 13.6 percent for Windham County.

The COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard is updated Tuesdays through Saturdays.

NEW VACCINATION SITES, SLOTS ADDED

The state has increased the number of sites and appointment times for COVID-19 vaccines for those who are 70 and older.

New sites and times have been added in Essex Junction, St. Johnsbury, Rutland, Brattleboro and St. Albans this week. The state adds that there are open slots in Randolph and Hardwick for the coming week.

Those who have not yet made an appointment are asked to visit healthvermont.gov/MyVaccine.

If you have a later appointment and wish to reschedule your appointment for an earlier one, or need assistance making an appointment, call 855-722-7878. To speak with someone in a language other than English, call this number, and then press 1.

SIGNUPS FOR THOSE 65 AND OLDER TO BEGIN IN MARCH

Vermonters in the next age group eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations, those 65 and older, may start making vaccine appointments as early as the first week of March, Human Resources Secretary Mike Smith said Friday.

He encouraged people in that age group to set up an account online ahead of time on the Health Department’s website. That way, they will have an account ready to use when the registration opens to pick a date, place and time be vaccinated, Smith said during the state’s twice-weekly virus briefing.

CLOSE CONTACT MORE LIKELY CAUSE OF RECENT COVID-19 CASES Vermonters are more more likely to get COVID-19 through close contact to another case and less likely to be associated with an outbreak, according to an analysis by the Department of Health.

The department found that the percentage of people with COVID-19 who are associated with an outbreak has been about average, while those who have had contact with another case has been higher than average.

The percentage of people with COVID-19 who have traveled has been about average, while those who have an unknown source of exposure has been average or higher, according to the department’s weekly data summary issued Friday.

“While we are still seeing outbreaks across the state, they are not as impactful as they were in October and early November,” the department said.

SCOTT ORDERS FOOD BOX PROGRAM PROBLEMS FIXED

In the coming weeks, the state will intervene and work with U.S. Department of Agriculture and Vermont Foodbank to fix problems with a pandemic-related federal food distribution program that has had significant challenges this month, Vermont Human Services Secretary Mike Smith said.

He said food boxes will be ready on March 1.

Vermont’s congressional delegation recently sent a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary-designate Tom Vilsack saying the New Jersey vendor picked for the latest round of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program was failing to meet the needs of hungry residents. They said Global Trading Enterprises, LLC, was only delivering food boxes to seven locations in just five of the state’s 14 counties.

An email was sent to Global Trading Enterprises seeking comment.

Smith said Gov. Phil Scott instructed him to fix the issues with the program.

As in previous rounds, Vermonters can register online on the Department of Human Resources website to receive a food box. The website will be updated next week with available days and locations, Smith said. Those without internet access may call 211 to sign up.

UMASS RETURNING TO IN-PERSON CLASSES AFTER SURGE EASES

The University of Massachusetts is planning to return to in-person classes Monday after a previous surge in COVID-19 cases led the school to pause campus instruction for two weeks.

University officials say recent restrictions have helped reduce the spread of COVID-19, allowing the school to decrease its risk level from “high” to “elevated.” The decision was made with input from the state’s Department of Public Health, according to a Friday message from Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy.

Students will be allowed to attend classes on campus as long as they comply with requirements to be tested for COVID-19 twice a week. Sports teams will be allowed to resume practices and away competitions, but there will be no home games until mid-March.

Subbaswamy warned that students will be barred from holding unauthorized gatherings of any size, adding that small gatherings without masks and social distancing were “a significant cause” of the recent surge.

The university saw a sharp increases in infections starting in February, with more than 700 cases reported in the first two weeks of the month. Since then, the infection rate has decreased, according to university data.

The chancellor said nearly 580 students had been referred to the school’s conduct office since Jan. 1, and some students have been suspended or removed from school housing for violating restrictions.

130 NEW CASES, NO NEW DEATHS IN MAINE

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported more than 130 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths on Sunday.

The agency said at least 70 people were hospitalized with the coronavirus, including 24 in critical care. More than 43,000 positive cases have been reported in the state since the start of the pandemic along with 658 deaths.

The latest average positivity rate in Maine is 2.07 percent. State health departments are calculating positivity rate differently across the country, but for Maine the AP calculates the rate by dividing new cases by test specimens using data from The COVID Tracking Project.

The seven-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Maine did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 3.07 percent on Feb. 6 to 2.07 percent on Feb. 20.

CONN. STUDENTS HEADED BACK TO CLASSROOMS

Most students in Hartford will return to school five days a week beginning March 1 as Connecticut’s COVID-19 cases continue to decline.

Superintendent Leslie Torres-Rodriguez said the decision announced Friday was made in consultation with health officials and based on guidance from the state.

Students in ninth grade and younger who opted for in-person learning will resume the five-day schedule, with half days on Wednesdays, that was in place until rising virus cases forced a shift to a hybrid model in November.

Students in 10th through 12th grades will continue to learn in-person part-time.


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