Two Vermonters died of COVID-19 over the past two days, the state Department of Health reported. The death toll is now 174.
The department reported 147 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, and 135 new cases on Sunday, for a total of 282. The reported total of 11,965 is 307 higher than the total reported Friday. The department did not explain the discrepancy.
Fifty-five of the new cases were in Bennington County, and 10 were in Windham County.
Bennington County continues to have the highest rate of COVID-19 among Vermont counties, at 303.4 cases per 10,000 residents. Chittenden County is second, at 247.1, while the rate in Windham County is 187.1. The towns of Bennington, Manchester and Winhall have each had more than 80 new cases per 10,000 residents over the past two weeks.
Over the past two weeks, Bennington County has reported 324 new cases, and Windham County has reported 92. Chittenden County, Vermont’s largest county, has had 505 over the same period.
Sixty-three Vermonters are hospitalized with the disease, and five of those patients are in intensive care units.
All but one of Vermont’s 14 counties reported new cases over the past two days. Chittenden County had 56; Bennington County had 55; Rutland County had 43; Franklin County had 40; Windsor County had 22; Addison County had 14; Orange, Washington and Windham counties each had 10; Caledonia, Essex and Lamoille counties each had five; and Orleans County had three. Grand Isle County reported no new cases.
So far, 303,711 people have been tested. The reported seven-day average for positive tests remained at 2.0 percent.
The number of Vermonters reported to have recovered from COVID-19 rose by 328 since Friday, to 8,254.
The department reported that 398 people were being monitored for the disease as of Sunday, a decrease of 56 from Friday. Of these, 159 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.
8.8% OF VERMONTERS HAVE RECEIVED VACCINE
The Department of Health reported Wednesday that 50,307 Vermonters have so far received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. That represents 8.8 percent of those age 16 and older who can receive the vaccine, and an increase of four-tenths of one percent over Friday.
In Bennington County, 9.8 percent of those eligible have received at least one dose.
The state is beginning its second week of administering vaccine to those ages 75 and older. State officials have said that more than 32,500 eligible Vermonters have made appointments at community clinics. To schedule an appointment, visit https://www.healthvermont.gov/covid-19/vaccine/getting-covid-19-vaccine. Those without internet access can call 855-722-7878.
RUTLAND REQUIRES MASKS AT TRANSFER STATION
The town of Rutland is requiring that people wear masks when visiting the trash and recycling transfer station. And those who continue to refuse to wear a mask could face a criminal trespass citation.
On Jan. 14, the town Board of Health voted unanimously to issue a trespass order against anyone at the transfer station not wearing a mask where required.
Under state law, a conviction or unlawful trespass can carry a penalty of not more than three months in jail and not more than a $500 fine.
Health Officer John Paul Faignant said that people who arrive at the transfer station without a mask will be offered one. If they refuse, they will be given a trespass notice, and the next time they visit the station without a mask they will be cited for trespassing.
“That becomes a criminal matter at that point when you violate a trespass order,” he said. “You’re violating the law.”
Faignant told the Rutland Herald that so far, no one has been cited.
STATE: CHILDCARE-BASED TRANSMISSION ‘LIMITED’
Childcare facility-based transmission is occurring “in a limited capacity,” since the outbreaks are usually small and there have not been many outbreaks overall, the Vermont Department of Health said in its weekly COVID-19 spotlight. Less than 1 percent of childcares in Vermont have had an outbreak, the state said.
Officials added that, although transmission within childcare settings has happened too infrequently to draw any conclusion about the risk of spread, 75 percent of people with COVID-19 who were at a childcare setting while infectious did not spread the disease to others while there.
STATE TESTING AIR FILTERS ON PUBLIC BUSES
The state of Vermont will be testing light-based air filters on public buses to see if they improve air quality and protect against the coronavirus and other airborne illnesses.
More than $580,000 from the Federal Transit Administration will cover the cost of installing the devices, testing the air on the buses, and conducting a public opinion survey, said Dan Currier, public transit coordinator for the Vermont Agency of Transportation.
“We saw this research grant and wanted the opportunity to try out this technology and see if it also helped to improve the air quality, not just the surface cleanliness,” Currier told the Times Argus.
One of Vermont’s eight public transit providers will be selected to get the the devices. Currier expects to get the units by April and testing will be done in the months after that.
Green Mountain Transit, which serves the Burlington area and other parts Chittenden County as well as Washington, Grand Isle, and Franklin counties, is getting five buses this summer with UVC filters in them, said Jon Moore, general manager for the bus company. The filters were available as an optional feature when the buses were purchased, he said.
MAINE GETS $221M IN PAYCHECK PROTECTION LOANS
More than 2,400 businesses and people in Maine have been approved for over $221 million in forgivable loans in the first two weeks of the reopening of the Paycheck Protection Program, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said.
Those figures apply to loans between Jan. 11 and Jan. 24, Collins, one of the politicians behind the program, said Friday in a written statement.
“The demand for the PPP from Maine small businesses in just the first two weeks of the program’s reopening underscores its vital importance,” she said. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, these forgivable loans have been a lifeline for tens of thousands of small businesses and have supported hundreds of thousands of jobs across our state.”
All told, the federal government provided $284.5 billion for the program in the most recent COVID-19 relief package.
Small businesses that employ 300 or fewer people and experienced a 25 percent or greater gross revenue loss because of COVID-19 are eligible to apply for a second forgivable loan under the program.
VACCINE SHORTAGE HITS UCONN HEALTH
A shortage in the COVID-19 vaccine has led UConn Health to cancel first-dose vaccinations for the next week.
On its website Saturday, the Farmington-based health system said that all first-dose vaccinations appointments for Feb. 1 through Feb. 8 are canceled, and that no new appointments for first doses are being scheduled.
A decision will be made next week on whether new appointments can be scheduled beyond Feb. 8, according to the website. UConn Health also said it plans to honor vaccination appointments for anyone scheduled to receive a second dose.
Through Thursday, about 300,000 residents had received first doses of the vaccine and about 64,000 had received second doses, according to Gov. Ned Lamont’s office.
FENWAY PARK VACCINATION CLINIC OPENS MONDAY
Starting Monday, 500 vaccinations per day will be administered at Fenway Park with the goal of reaching as many as 1,250 per day to residents eligible under Massachusetts’ vaccination plan.
The site is expected to stay open through the start of baseball season in early April.
Appointments are open for those people eligible under Phase 1 of the state’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, as well as people 75 and older, who will start getting shots on Monday as the rollout moves into Phase 2.
Health care workers started receiving the vaccine at Fenway this week.
The state’s first mass vaccination site, Gillette Stadium, opened this month.
N.H. GETS $8.4M FOR HOUSING ASSISTANCE
New Hampshire organizations that provide emergency housing and assistance to homeless people are getting over $8.4 million in federal aid, the state’s congressional delegation said.
“This funding will help to ensure no Granite Stater is left without a home, which is particularly critical now during the cold winter months and as Americans are encouraged to stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19,” U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster said in a statement Friday.
The funding was provided through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Continuum of Care Program, which provides funding for efforts by nonprofits, states and local governments to rehouse homeless people, and as well as people fleeing domestic violence and sexual assault.
R.I. COMMUNITIES OFFER VACCINE
Cities and towns are administering a limited number of COVID-19 vaccines to residents ages 75 and older.
The Rhode Island Department of Health announced Thursday that they could get vaccinated. Many appointments filled up quickly.
Each city and town has been allocated a certain number of doses.
In Westerly, most of the people who were called were selected using the municipal voter roll. Their names were sorted randomly using the last four numbers of their phone numbers, Town Manager J. Mark Rooney told the Sun.
Some of the 34 housing authority and senior center individuals were not taken from the voter list in order to include others who might not be registered to vote.
“We tried to get across the demographic as best we could,” Rooney said.