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The best protection against the new, more transmissible strain of the coronavirus remains vaccination, Vermont officials said this week.

The number of new cases of COVID-19 reported in Vermont is up slightly and testing is underway to determine how many of those cases are from the so-called delta variant, Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said Tuesday.

Despite the slight increases — there were 16 more virus cases in Vermont the last week than in the preceding week — Vermont continues to lead the country in a number of measures, including the top vaccination rate of 82.8 percent of the eligible population, those aged 12 and over, which has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The state also leads in the percentage of the eligible population that is fully vaccinated, 73.7 percent, and the full population, which includes those under 12, that is fully vaccinated at 65.1 percent.

Levine said he doesn’t expect the delta strain will create the problems in Vermont it has in other parts of the country because of the state’s high vaccination rate.

“What we are seeing in some of the western and midwestern states are real clusters and pockets of intense activity of the virus, which almost universally correlates with low vaccination rates,” he said during the state’s weekly virus briefing.

WEEKLY NUMBERS UP

There have been 84 cases of COVID-19 in Vermont over the past week, raising the cumulative total to 24,529.

There were 13 new cases reported in Vermont on Thursday. Washington County had six cases, Chittenden County had three, and Addison and Franklin counties each had two.

Over the past two weeks, there have been six new COVID cases reported in Bennington County, and six in Windham County. No Vermonters have died of COVID-19 over the past week; the state’s death toll remains at 258.

Three Vermonters are now hospitalized with the disease, one of whom is in intensive care.

So far, 407,723 people have been tested. The reported statewide seven-day average for positive tests has risen to 1.0 percent.

The number of Vermonters reported to have recovered from COVID-19 is now 24,122, an increase of 45 in the past week.

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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.

COUNTY BACK TO MEDIUM RISK

Bennington County is one of three Vermont counties now rated as medium risk for COVID-19 transmission by the nonprofit Covid ActNow. The county had been rated as low risk one week ago.

The average number of daily new cases per 100,000 Bennington County residents for the past two weeks has doubled from last week, to 1.6, while an infection rate of 1.03 shows that COVID continues to spread at a constant rate.

Orleans, Washington and Chittenden counties are now rated as high risk. Across the border, Berkshire County in Massachusetts is also rated as medium risk.

VACCINATION RATE RISES TO 82.9%

Vermont’s best-in-the-nation vaccination rate stood at 82.9 percent on Thursday, a rise of four-tenths of a percentage point from a week before, the Vermont Department of Health reported. Lamoille County continues to lead Vermont at 85.3 percent, while Essex County continues to lag the pack, at 58.1 percent. The rate is 78.1 percent in Bennington County, a rise of three-tenths of a percentage point from last week.

Vermont has received no additional doses of vaccine in the past week. Of the 912,400 doses received in total, 92.4 percent have been administered.

Walk-in vaccination clinics continue throughout Vermont. Southwestern Vermont Health Care is administering COVID vaccines from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week at SVMC ExpressCare at the hospital. People can also visit healthvermont.gov/MyVaccine to find an opportunity.

In addition, most pharmacies are offering walk-in vaccinations. Ask your local pharmacist or simply walk into a CVS, Hannaford Food and Drug, Walmart, Walgreens, Price Chopper/Market 32, Rite Aid, Shaw’s Supermarket or Costco.

Note to readers

With the risk of COVID-19 transmission having diminished in Vermont, the frequency of The Checkup has been reduced from daily to weekly, published on Fridays. The Vermont Department of Health continues to update its COVID dashboard Monday through Friday; that can be found at https://www.healthvermont.gov/covid-19/current-activity/vermont-dashboard.

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.


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