MONTPELIER — With about 78 percent of Vermonters 12 and older getting at least one dose of a vaccine, Gov. Phil Scott anticipates the state is “days away” from rescinding its COVID-19 restrictions.
“Just 11,346 to go before we hit 80 percent and all restrictions will be lifted,” he said Tuesday at his twice-weekly news conference.
Federal data regarding shots given Sunday and Monday was expected to arrive later in the afternoon and bump the number up a bit. Scott said a news conference could be scheduled before Friday’s if the 80 percent threshold is met sooner.
Indoor spaces are currently required to have 50 square feet for every unvaccinated person and masking is required inside establishments for unvaccinated people. Masks are still mandated in hospitals, prisons and public transportation as well as places where municipalities or establishments require them.
The next and final phase of Scott’s Vermont Forward Plan would have no capacity restrictions related to COVID, move businesses to “universal guidance” suggested for every sector, and encourage masking for those who are unvaccinated.
Scott said the state has about 100 opportunities for walk-in appointments this week, and the Department of Health is willing to go to work sites to administer shots. Such efforts will continue “so that access is not a barrier,” he said.
Michael Pieciak, commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulation, described Vermont being the safest state in the country when it comes to COVID-19. He said it has the lowest rates for hospitalizations, fatalities and cases, and the highest vaccination rate.
“We anticipate these favorable trends will continue into the foreseeable future,” he said.
Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said Vermont is the only state in the country going without a death attributed to the virus in the past 15 days. Vermont has recorded six COVID-19 deaths in May and even less are forecasted for June.
Pieciak said the state has the lowest hospitalization rate in the U.S. — it declined by 19 percent in the last seven days and 37 percent in the last two weeks.
“Hospitalizations remain at a six-month low and we anticipate they will continue to decrease in the months ahead,” he said.
Vermont reported 92 new COVID-19 cases last week, 129 fewer than the prior week. Scott said the numbers show vaccines work.
Pieciak described retail and recreation returning “back to pre-pandemic baseline,” and grocery store and pharmacy visits “exceeding that baseline.”
“Vermonters are now spending less time at home than at any other point in the last 14 months,” he said.
Mike Smith, secretary of the Agency of Human services, noted several walk-in clinics including those scheduled for June 5 and 6 at the Wilmington Antique and Flea Market, at the junction of Route 9 and Route 100.