Health Care

Vermont reports low Covid levels, though BA.5 numbers creep up in southern U.S.

Note: This story is more than a week old. Given how quickly the Covid-19 pandemic is evolving, we recommend that you read our latest coverage here.

Nationally, Covid-19 case counts and hospitalizations have reached their highest point since February, but Vermont still reports far lower rates than the national average, according to the latest data from the state Department of Health.

Led by the BA.5 subvariant, Covid levels are high in Southern states, particularly Kentucky and Alabama, and Western states like Alaska and California, according to The New York Times. The Northeast, including Vermont, has the lowest case counts of any region.

The state health department said Vermont had “low” Covid levels in the past week in its latest surveillance update. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rated 11 Vermont counties as having “low” Covid levels, while three — Bennington, Rutland and Essex counties — had “medium” Covid levels.

State and national levels are based on hospital admissions, current hospitalizations and reported Covid cases, which have dropped 17% to about 500 cases in the past week, compared to 600 the week before.

Experts have warned Covid cases may be far higher than reported because of the prevalence of at-home antigen tests, which are not reported in state data. The positivity rate of PCR tests in Vermont was 6.6% this week, a decline from a high of about 10% over the July 4 holiday.

At the same time, the more reliable metric of hospitalizations remains relatively steady from the week before. 

The state reported that 33 people were admitted to Vermont hospitals with Covid in the past week, compared to 21 a week ago.

There is one sign of Covid rise in the latest update: Bennington County has reported a significant uptick in the viral levels of its wastewater samples, with about a 165% rise in viral counts over the past month. CDC data shows a slight increase in Covid hospital admissions in the county as well.

Seven other wastewater sites in Vermont reported a decline in Covid levels or a smaller increase. 

Vermont also reported four additional Covid deaths this week, bringing July’s total to nine. It appears on track to be roughly even with June, when 12 deaths were recorded. In total, 693 people have died of Covid in Vermont since the pandemic began in March 2020.

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Erin Petenko

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