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I don't feel any fear going out.' How residents are living in America's most vaccinated state

The sweaty Lindy Hoppers stood in a circle clapping to a hard-driving beat -- switching partners and laughing on the ballroom floor of The Champlain Club in Vermont's largest city.

They clasped hands and rock stepped and spun in and out of quick embraces to swinging jazz rhythms on one of the last hardwood ballrooms in Burlington.

With explosions of Covid-19 cases in almost every state fueling yet another nationwide surge in the deadly pandemic, the 30 dancers of all ages and skill levels could be engaging in a risky pleasure.

"I thought partner dancing was always going to be the last thing to come back from the pandemic because there's so much interaction," said one dancer, Lorilee Schoenbeck, a naturopathic physician.
With Vermont vax rate approaching 84%, state pushes ahead with campaign

Vermont continues to lead the nation in vaccinations, with almost 84% of eligible Vermonters having had a least one shot, and 427,000 having completed their vaccination regimen. As the more contagious delta variant is prompting new restrictions in some states, Vermont officials are continuing to administer shots and have no immediate plans to clamp down.

Across the Green Mountains, summer looks relatively back to normal, with concerts, farmers markets, fairs, and parties back on.

David Mumley says he’s glad to be able to hit the gym and work out mask-free. “When we first started, I didn’t know what to expect -- obviously, none of us encountered anything like this -- but now, I’m much more comfortable,” Mumley said.

While it’s a big shift from last summer, the delta variant is spreading in low vaccination states, hospitalizations are rising, and the CDC is recommending masking in some areas.

American Red Cross reports severe blood shortage. How Vermonters can help.
Burlington Free Press

The American Red Cross is in urgent need of blood donations, and there will be a number of opportunities throughout August for Vermonters to help. 

The need for donations is always high in the summer months, according to Northern New England Red Cross spokeswoman Mary Brant. However, this year, the need is higher because there has been an increase in people who are seeking treatment now after deferring care during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is resulting in an increase in both organ transplants and elective surgeries. 

"They are presenting with more advanced disease progression, therefore requiring increased blood transfusions," Brant wrote in an email. 
BIPOC Mental Health Month: What is intergenerational trauma?

July is BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) Mental Health Month.
BIPOC Mental Health Month highlights the unique mental health challenges of historically disenfranchised or oppressed racial groups in the United States.

Lisa Ibekwe, an Atlanta, Georgia-based licensed therapist who also serves clients in New England, joined our Erin Brown to talk about intergenerational trauma and racial trauma. They also discussed how videos and images of police brutality and other forms of abuse against minorities affect the brains of BIPOC adults and children. Watch the video to see the full interview.
As delta variant surges, Vermont officials urge unvaccinated to get the shot
Local 22/44

Despite high vaccination rates in Vermont and the Northeast, experts say the delta variant is surging and if things don’t change, cases will continue to rise.

The mutated version of the coronavirus virus is twice as likely to spread from person to person. 

“It’s just as deadly so it’s a big cause of the uptick in cases lately,” Dr. Tim Lahey, Infectious Disease Specialist, at UVMMC said. 

“The good news is that although delta spreads really easily people that are vaccinated are still quite well protected from severe disease and death, but no vaccination is 100% perfect,” Dr. Lahey said.
Vermonters brace for the Delta variant
Addison County Independent

State and local health officials urged unvaccinated Vermonters to consider the emergence of the Delta variant of the coronavirus as a wake-up call to finally get a COVID-19 vaccination.

Delta is a highly contagious SARS-CoV-2 virus strain, first identified in India back in December. The first Delta case in the United States was diagnosed in March and it is now the dominant strain in the U.S., according to the CDC.

Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine told the Independent that the Delta variant is 60% more transmissible than the prior incarnation of COVID-19.
Vermont free tuition program sees ‘astounding’ demand
Valley News

Megan Cram is working full-time at the Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin and enrolling at Vermont Technical College this fall in the hopes of getting her license as a registered nurse. But when she learned recently that she was pregnant — her due date is days before finals — Cram reconsidered.

“Financially, I didn’t know how I would pay for it,” she said.

A scholarship covering the full cost of tuition for a year — which, funded by federal COVID-19-relief aid, is only temporarily available for now — steeled her resolve and made her decide to stick to the plan.
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