VERMONT (WFFF) — State health officials say the surge in cases following Thanksgiving led to the highest number of Vermonters hospitalized for COVID since the pandemic began. On Tuesday, the Vermont Department of Health reported that 90 people were hospitalized for COVID, with over two dozen requiring intensive care.
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott said 90% of the 31 people currently in the ICU are not vaccinated. And Michael Pieciak, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation, says unvaccinated Vermonters are 15 times more likely to require hospital care. “They’re likely to spend a longer time in the hospital and consume more hospital resources,” he said.
While state leaders predicted an increase after Thanksgiving, cases were even higher than they anticipated. The state’s infection rate jumped by 51% in the past two weeks. Health officials said the surge is driven by the delta variant, which continues to be the state’s primary strain.
The state is managing hospital capacity by continuing to stress the need for vaccination, transferring patients who don’t need hospital care to sub-acute beds, and bringing in contract workers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“Frontline and emergency hospital workforce are seeing and telling me very consistently and with increased frequency that unvaccinated Vermonters with COVID are routinely showing up in the emergency room quite seriously ill,” said Dr. Mark Levine, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health.
He said Vermonters shouldn’t consider themselves “fully protected” until they’ve gotten the booster. Levine recommended that those who don’t plan to get vaccinated prioritize getting tested, and do so early if feeling sick.
Levine also recommends those planning to gather throughout the remaining holiday season should know each other’s vaccination status, keep the gatherings small, and have a testing strategy in place.