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Officials Emphasize Vaccination As Community Spread Of COVID-19 Increases

COVID-19 Diagram
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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Officials in northern New York and Vermont are discussing strategies to deal with the spread of the coronavirus and continue to emphasize the benefits of vaccination.

The CDC’s COVID Data Tracker map provides county level rankings of COVID-19 transmission at four levels: low, moderate, substantial and high.

For data from August 12 to the 18 Clinton County, New York is ranked moderate. But all surrounding counties in New York and Vermont have a high level of community transmission.

On Thursday, Clinton County Public Health Director John Kanoza reported 72 percent of residents 18 years and older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. He said the vaccine is keeping them protected from the more severe symptoms and the delta variant.

“The number of positive cases we are seeing daily has started to increase daily over the past month. Forty-two percent of our cases over the past month have been breakthrough cases, meaning they were fully vaccinated individuals who have tested positive," he said. "Some of these cases were asymptomatic. A majority experienced mild to moderate symptoms while none of these cases required long term hospitalization through the course of their illness and there were no deaths fortunately. This means that the COVID vaccines are doing exactly what they are supposed to do.”

But among the population of unvaccinated residents UVM Health Network CVPH Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Keith Collins said preventable deaths have occurred.

“I watched two people die in our ICU this past month who were not vaccinated," Collins said. "COVID-19 kills people and the only tool we have to prevent these deaths is vaccination. I just hate to see these people coming in our hospital and dying because they didn’t get a vaccine. And I’ve now seen it twice this month. So please, please, please if you haven’t been vaccinated get vaccinated.”

The CDC indicates Chittenden County has a high level of COVID-19 transmission. The county is the center of Vermont’s population and includes its largest city: Burlington.

During an update Friday on the city’s response, Mayor Miro Weinberger said due to the current spike in transmission mandatory vaccination and prevention policies are being implemented for city employees.

“More than 90 percent of Burlington public employees are vaccinated," Weinberger said. "To be in compliance with this policy by October 8th we are hoping that the remaining employees will also take that step. We are allowing the option to engage in weekly PCR testing and share those results with the city." The mayor adds: "We also require, as many already were, employees to wear masks indoors when they are with members of the public until Chittenden County has reached moderate transmission level again per the CDC regardless of vaccination status. We are considering some kind of reinstatement of a mask mandate.”

Mayor Weinberger plans to convene a town hall next week with local businesses and nonprofits to discuss tempering the city’s masking guidance.

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