The Department of Health reported that 143,144 Vermonters, or 26.1 percent of all those over the age of 16, have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Saturday.

According to the state, 76,300 people have completed their vaccination, and 66,800 have received a first dose.

In Bennington County, 28.1 percent of residents have received vaccine, and in Windham County, 23.8.

So far, the state has received 271,900 doses of vaccine, 80.7 percent percent of which have been administered.

The state does not update its vaccine dashboard on Sunday or Monday.

TIMELINE FOR REMAINING AGE BANDS EXPECTED THIS WEEK

Vermont will return to grouping segments of the population eligible for vaccines by age after the current group — people with preexisting conditions — is vaccinated.

Gov. Phil Scott said at his twice-weekly virus briefing on Friday that he expects to be able to announce this coming week a timeline for the remaining age bands, depending on what the state learns from the federal government about vaccine supplies. He said he hopes to outline the state’s exit strategy from the pandemic by the first week of April.

The last age group eligible for vaccines was Vermonters 65 and older, in addition to educators and those with certain medical conditions.

“I appreciate everyone’s patience and I know all of us want to get to normal,” he said. He added that state Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine and others have said that March is a critical month as the state completes vaccinations for the most vulnerable.

“So we must continue to all we can to help ourselves by wearing a mask, keeping our distance, washing our hands and avoiding crowds when possible,” he said.

VT’S HEALTH COMMISSIONER RECEIVES FIRST DOSE

Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine has received his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Levine was vaccinated Friday at the University of Vermont Medical Center vaccination clinic held at the Essex fairgrounds, the state Health Department said.

Before receiving the shot, Levine reflected on what it means during the governor’s twice-weekly virus briefing.

“Like many of you, I look forward to spending time with family and friends, to seeing my out-of-state son and his wife, and my daughter and her husband and hugging my granddaughter. And yes, hugging will be in order and will be the doctor’s order for all of you who follow in my footsteps.”

He said while he’s somewhat grateful for Zoom that allowed him to see his granddaughter, “it has not come even close for missing seeing her grow from a five-month-old baby to a year-and-a-half (old) toddler.”

SANDERS TO SPEAK WITH STUDENTS ON PANDEMIC CHALLENGES

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., will hold a statewide virtual town hall meeting with Vermont students this Monday, March 15 at 7:30 p.m. Among the participants are Carson Gordon of Mount Anthony Union High School, and Iva Armour-Jones of Brattleboro Union High School.

The virtual event, “Coping During COVID: How Students are Handling the Challenges of the COVID-19 Pandemic,” will focus on how students have experienced the social, emotional, and mental health challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sanders said, “I want to hear directly from Vermont’s young people. This past year has been terrible for so many of us, and there’s no doubt that our students are struggling. They may not be able to go to school, they’re dealing with remote and hybrid learning. They can’t see their friends, and of course, some lost loved ones to this terrible virus. We cannot ignore their pain and we also owe it to them to listen to their ideas for how we move forward. I want to hear directly from these students and together discuss what can be done to boldly address their needs.”

A panel of Vermont high school students will join Sanders for a discussion, followed by a question and answer session with the student attendees. Students will have an opportunity to speak about the issues that matter most to them, and ask questions about Sanders’ plans to help young people. A number of experts from Vermont will also join the event to provide resources and answer students’ questions.

THE NUMBERS

Two Vermonters died of COVID-19 over the past two days, the Vermont Department of Health reported. The state’s death toll is now 214.

Thirty Vermonters were hospitalized with the disease as of Sunday, and one of those patients was in intensive care.

The health department reported 71 new cases of COVID-19 in Vermont on Saturday, and 175 on Sunday, for a total of 246. The new cumulative total was reported as 16,890, which is 267 higher than the total reported Friday.

All but one of Vermont’s 14 counties reported new cases over the past two days. Chittenden County had 67; Orleans County had 43; Franklin County had 36; Bennington, Lamoille and Rutland counties each had 18; Addison County had 13; Washington County had nine; Caledonia, Windham and Windsor counties each had seven; Essex County had two; and Orange County had one. Grand Isle County had no new cases.

According to Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development figures, Bennington County has 43.90 active cases per 10,000 residents, above the statewide average of 35.80 cases per 10,000. Windham County is well under the state average, with 20.19 cases per 10,000.

Bennington County has reported 116 new cases over the past two weeks, and Windham County has reported 52. Chittenden County, Vermont’s largest county, has had 458 over the same period.

Bennington County continues to have the highest infection rate of COVID-19 in Vermont, at 437.5 cases per 10,000 residents since the beginning of the pandemic. Chittenden County is second, at 323.7, while the rate in Windham County is 236.7.

So far, 342,066 people have been tested. The reported statewide seven-day average for positive tests has dipped to 1.3 percent.

The number of Vermonters reported to have recovered from COVID-19 rose by 228 since Friday, to 14,121.

Numbers for monitoring are no longer reported on the dashboard. The health department said it is continuing to internally track travelers and contacts monitored, and people who have completed monitoring.

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.

CONN. GOVERNOR GETS SECOND SHOT

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has received his second dose of the Pfizer vaccine and and is urging residents to sign up for their shots when they become eligible.

The 67-year-old received his second dose on Friday at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford. He was administered his initial shot on Feb. 16.

“I view receiving the COVID-19 vaccine as part of my obligation to protect myself, members of my administration, and my family,” Lamont said in a statement. “As we continue our vaccine rollout, I continue to urge all of our residents to receive their vaccination once they are eligible. These vaccines are safe, effective, and they will help us get back to normal.”

Currently, people age 55 and older are eligible to make vaccination appointments in Connecticut. The age threshold changes on March 22, when people 45 years and older can sign up for a shot. Lamont has said he expects Connecticut will be able to meet President Joe Biden’s call to make all adults eligible for COVID-19 vaccines by May 1. During an event on Friday, Lamont said he hopes to speed up the state’s current age-based rollout.

“Give us a few days to get back to you, but I think we’re going to try and accelerate along the way,” Lamont said during a news conference at a Danbury vaccination clinic.

NUMBERS ON THE RISE IN MAINE

More than 36,000 people have tested positive for the virus in Maine, including 206 cases announced Saturday. One new death was announced, bringing the total to 724.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Maine has risen over the past two weeks from 152 new cases per day on Feb. 25 to 172 new cases per day on March 11.

UNH BEGINS GENETIC SEQUENCING OF VIRUS

The University of New Hampshire is helping public health officials better understand how variations of the coronavirus are circulating in the public.

The university recently started genomic sequencing of the virus from samples submitted to its testing lab and samples provided by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Sequencing of the first several hundred samples were completed last week, and the variant first detected in the United Kingdom was found in two samples. That variant first showed up in New Hampshire last month. Patient information in such cases is forwarded to the state for further action if necessary.

More than 78,000 people have tested positive for the virus in New Hampshire, including 256 cases announced Saturday. Four new deaths were announced, bringing the total to 1,199.

RELIEF SEEN FOR WORKING PARENTS

The latest federal coronavirus relief package will be a lifeline for working parents, U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said Saturday.

Whitehouse, a Democrat, said the bill will send $93 million to Rhode Island child care centers.

“Parents of young children have had to navigate the impossible situation of balancing full-time jobs with reduced options for child care during the pandemic,” Whitehouse said in a statement. “The burden has disproportionately fallen on women, many of whom have had no choice but to step back from their careers.”

The funding is expected to include $36 million for child care block grants, $57 million for child care stabilization grants and $3 million for Rhode Island Head Start programs.



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