In the News
Flu returns to Vermont after taking a year off

As Vermont braces for the Omicron variant of Covid-19, influenza appears to be making a comeback. 

Roughly 1 in 10 people tested for respiratory symptoms in Vermont had the flu in the week ending Dec. 11, up from about 3 in 100 people the previous week, according to the Vermont Department of Health. 

Vermont had virtually no influenza cases in 2020. Health Commissioner Mark Levine credited that trend to higher-than-average influenza vaccination rates and to coronavirus control measures — including masking and crowd restrictions — that helped keep the flu at bay. 
Dozens of FEMA workers deployed to Vermont, New Hampshire to help with COVID Surge

Dozens of Federal Emergency Management Agency medical first responders have been deployed to Vermont and New Hampshire in the wake of the COVID-19 surge impacting hospitals.

Last Friday, dozens of FEMA medical personnel were sent to our region to assist with the spike in COVID numbers. Vermont and New Hampshire were among six states that received the support.

And President Biden announced Tuesday that more would be coming to help bolster the response.

The UVM Medical Center’s intensive care unit is 84% full and they’ve received 20 first responders at the facility. This includes 10 EMTs and 10 paramedics.
Covid-19 case counts down for now in Vermont, but Omicron and holidays loom

The Vermont Department of Health reported 242 Covid-19 cases on Monday. Following a weekend of slightly lower case counts — 443 on Saturday, 463 on Sunday — the seven-day average has ticked down to 407 cases per day, compared with more than 470 cases per day two weeks ago.

But two holidays are coming in the next two weeks have officials concerned. Mike Pieciak, commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulation, said Tuesday that the state forecast showed cases would either remain level or increase after Christmas and New Year’s, just as they did last year.

The Department of Health also confirmed the first case of the Omicron variant detected in Vermont on Saturday. The variant, which had previously been found in all neighboring states and provinces, is more contagious than the currently dominant Delta strain. 

Biden sending help to Vermont hospitals strained by Covid-19 surge

Dozens of federal medical personnel have been deployed to Vermont to help alleviate hospital capacity issues caused by Covid-19, according to the White House.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced a series of emergency measures to address the current coronavirus surge and prepare for the spread of the more contagious Omicron variant.

Among those measures is the deployment of “emergency response teams” to six states experiencing surges. Doctors, nurses and paramedics will immediately deploy to Vermont, according to a White House fact sheet, as well as New Hampshire, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin and Arizona.
Hospitals and schools brace for Covid-19 surge driven by holidays and Omicron

As the Green Mountain State’s pandemic-strained hospitals and schools brace for another coronavirus surge driven by holiday gatherings and the Omicron variant, Gov. Phil Scott repeated an optimistic mantra at his weekly press conference: Vermont is as ready as it can be.

“We’re prepared,” he said Tuesday. “But I think it depends on the intensity of the storm.”

The state’s modeling team at the Department of Financial Regulation offered a grim assessment for the coming weeks. Vermont could see as many as 600 to 1,000 new cases a day, up from a current daily average of about 450.
COVID-positive Vermonters with no symptoms clog up ERs

Some Vermonters who are able to find antigen tests and then test positive are clogging up emergency rooms.

The emergency department at the Rutland Regional Medical Center has been overwhelmed with asymptomatic folks.

Dr. Rick Hildebrant is RRMC’s medical director. He says some people who test positive with a rapid test go to the emergency room looking for a PCR test.

The Vermont Hospital Association says it’s hearing similar stories from other parts of the state.

Hildebrant says those who are asymptomatic and receive a positive antigen test should stay home and reach out to their primary care provider.

He says the only time to go to the ER is if you have a positive test and are very sick.

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