From the CEO
As most of us pause to observe the holidays with family and friends, our health care workforce keeps going to work. They continue to step up to treat Vermonters and navigate the pandemic, missing festive dinners and early-morning gift exchanges to be there for their patients. And now, following two years of the most difficult and even frightening work our health care teams have ever seen, this is a particularly challenging holiday season for them.
 
Here are two videos thanking our health care heroes:
 
  • The first is a new PSA we created with the Vermont Department of Health to remind Vermonters what they can do to say "thank you" through their actions.
  • The other is a beautiful example of how our communities step up in other creative ways to show they care.
 
Have a safe and happy Christmas and New Year!
In the News
How the state is working to boost Vermont’s COVID booster shot rate
WCAX

Vermont leads the country in the percentage of people fully vaccinated and boosted. More than 203,000 Vermonters, 18 and older, are fully boosted. That’s 47%.
But the state says that still isn’t enough. So the state epidemiologist says they are creating walk-in clinics and other opportunities this holiday season, as part of an effort called Boost Up Vermont.
“Getting a booster is more and more important,” Vermont Epidemiologist Patsy Kelso said.
Kelso says being vaccinated will protect you but the effectiveness drops off over time.
She says by getting the booster shot you are safer, especially as more transmissible strains like delta and omicron appear.
So the state is making it easier for you to get boosted.
Vermont reports declining Covid cases, but rising death figures
VTDigger

Vermont reported 348 new Covid-19 cases Wednesday, lowering the seven-day case average to 403 cases per day — the lowest seven-day average since Dec. 1, as the state passes through what officials have deemed a post-Thanksgiving surge in cases.
The progress comes six days after the state Department of Health reported a one-day record of 739 new cases on Dec. 9. Daily case totals have not surpassed 600 since that day.
But two important caveats temper the positive news: Vermont is still seeing the aftereffects of the surge in its death count. And as another holiday season approaches, more cases are possible in just a few weeks.
Nursing away from home: Vermont’s shortage a boon for travelers
VTDigger

Kalee Calixto, a travel nurse at the University of Vermont Medical Center, has worked the floors all over the Burlington hospital since he started in November. He filled vacancies at the emergency department and worked in surgery. When orthopedics needed a hand, the 30-year-old helped there, too.
The Jacksonville, Florida, resident plans to remain in Vermont at least until his contract ends in February. He expects to move on to another temporary post in another community sometime thereafter. 
“A nurse is a nurse,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if I’m in Vermont, if I’m in Florida. The only thing that changes is the policies and the system.”
Final data on COVID-19 pill released to FDA
WCAX

Final data on Pfizer’s experimental treatment for COVID-19 has been shared with the Food and Drug Administration as part of the company’s application to authorize the pill for emergency use.
If authorized, the pill could be another tool in the fight against the virus.
Pfizer says updated results show the treatment cuts the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% if given to adults within a few days of first symptoms.
”The pill is potentially a lifesaver for everyone,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said.
Pfizer hopes to offer the pills under the name Paxlovid for people to take at home before they are sick enough to go to the hospital.
”When you have peaks of this disease, when you have the waves that are coming, the hospitals are really overcrowded, and that creates significant issues to the health care system,” Chairman and CEO of Pfizer Albert Bourla said. “With this pill, we are expecting out of ten people going to hospital, one will go and no one is dying.”
Vermont's First Case of Omicron Variant of COVID-19 Confirmed
Seven Days

Vermont has confirmed its first case of the highly contagious Omicron COVID-19 variant.

The specimen was collected on December 8 from a Lamoille County resident in their 30s, the state health department said Saturday, adding that the individual was fully vaccinated and has been experiencing mild symptoms.

“We knew it was only a matter of time before we saw Omicron in our state,” Health Commissioner Mark Levine said in a press release.

The news comes just a day after the City of Burlington announced that readings from its wastewater monitoring program indicated the new variant may be spreading locally.

Hospitals in the News