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.
Vermont has “low” Covid-19 levels for the 10th week in a row, the state Department of Health reported on Wednesday — but this time, the national Covid picture also showed signs of improving.
As the BA.5 subvariant became the dominant strain nationwide, it caused a surge in cases that led to the highest Covid levels since the Omicron wave in January, according to The New York Times.
The South was particularly hard-hit by BA.5, while New England states — which reported high levels of Covid from BA.2 in the spring — have remained relatively less affected by the latest strain. Vermont has the lowest hospitalization rate and case rate in the nation, according to The Times.
National cases have slowly begun to tick downward in the past two weeks, as have the nation’s hospitalizations and test positivity rate, The Times reported.
The health department calculates Vermont’s Covid levels based on case rates, hospital admissions and the share of hospital beds used by Covid patients.
The department cautioned that case counts this week may have risen because of a testing delay that caused older cases to be added to the data in this week’s surveillance report. Vermont reported 526 cases in the past week, up from 493 the week before.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday that 12 of Vermont’s 14 counties have low Covid levels, while Rutland and Bennington have “medium” levels.
The CDC recommends that high-risk people living in medium-level counties wear masks and take other precautions against Covid.
The health department reported that 38 people were admitted to Vermont hospitals with Covid in the past week, compared to 49 the week before.
According to department data, 28 people were hospitalized with Covid as of Wednesday, including four in intensive care.
The department reported an additional six Covid deaths this week, for a total of 12 deaths in July and three so far in August. In total, 699 people have died from Covid in Vermont since the pandemic began in March 2020.
The number of Covid deaths is based on death certificates that list Covid as a cause or probable cause of death, according to the health department. Because of the time it takes to investigate deaths and prepare death certificates, deaths can sometimes be added retroactively, raising the total for previous weeks and months.
Sign up for our guide to the global coronavirus outbreak and its impact on Vermont, with latest developments delivered to your inbox.