Throughout the pandemic, our top strategic goal has been to make sure our hospitals have the capacity – bed space and resources – to serve all those who need care, and that continues to be our top goal to this day.
Vaccines are making a difference, and with boosters and vaccine approval for kids 5-11 years old, this will continue to improve.
However, with roughly 126,000 Vermonters still unvaccinated, we continue to see cases increase, which is leading to more hospitalizations and deaths than we want to see. Today, we reported 487 new cases out of over 18,000 tests completed, which is the 2nd highest number of tests we’ve ever done. It is important to note that this test positivity rate of 2.7% is about what we’ve been seeing on average. But we do have to consider the impact this case count could have on our hospital capacity in the coming weeks. If we stayed at this level of cases, based on our current hospitalization rate, there is potential to see the number of people currently hospitalized increase to over 80, which would be a significant strain on the system.
Invoking a state of emergency is unnecessary at this time, but we need Vermonters to think about what they can do to protect those at risk of hospitalization and deaths. That means each and every one of us taking individual steps to protect the vulnerable in our lives – the elderly and those with underlying conditions like heart or lung disease, smokers, or people who are pregnant.
At this time, we urge Vermonters to do the following:
- Get vaccinated, get your kids vaccinated and get your booster when eligible.
- Today’s numbers could be driven by Halloween and other gatherings, so gather wisely:
- Wear a mask when in indoor settings, even when vaccinated;
- Stay outside when you can;
- Be mindful of the size of gatherings;
- Encourage vaccination for guests at larger events and gatherings;
- Use testing as a tool; and
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Add layers of protection when around the elderly and medically vulnerable, including getting tested before visiting or wearing a mask indoors with them.
For those choosing not to receive the vaccine, you have an added responsibility to wear a mask indoors, keep 6 feet apart and get tested regularly, but certainly before gathering or avoid gatherings altogether. Choosing not to take these steps is leading to unnecessary illness, hospitalizations and death in our communities.
The simple fact is, this pandemic is being driven by the unvaccinated, including 53,000 eligible adults. The three lowest vaccinated counties account for 25% of today’s cases, yet they only make up 10% of our state population. Unvaccinated Vermonters are up to 5 times as likely to contract COVID in Vermont and they account for 70-85% of our hospitalizations and ICU stays. Unvaccinated adults are directly contributing to the strain on our hospital capacity. Enough is enough, it’s time to step up and get vaccinated – something over 90% of your fellow Vermont adults have done.
Thankfully, 44,000 more Vermonters (kids ages 5-11) just became eligible for vaccination. Today’s data underscores the urgency for parents and caregivers to sign their children up to be vaccinated if they are eligible. Vaccines are safe, effective and free. Not only will they limit spread of the virus, but also limit disruptions, like the need to quarantine after exposure, which leads to kids missing school and other activities that help their social and emotional wellbeing.
Again, we believe that if all Vermonters band together to make smart choices in the coming weeks, we can make sure that today’s uptick is not a trend that drives greater hospitalizations and deaths. But it takes all of us stepping up and committing to those smart choices, starting with getting vaccinated if you have not done so. We do not want to take any steps backwards, but we need your help to make smart choices in your daily lives to protect the healthcare system and keep us moving forward.