Amid falling cases, median age of Covid-19 cases rise statewide

Amid falling cases, median age of Covid-19 cases rise statewide

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Gov. Phil Scott leaves the podium after announcing that 80% of the Vermont population 12 and over has been vaccinated against Covid-19 at a press conference in Montpelier on June 14, 2021. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

Vermont reported 35 new Covid-19 cases in the past week, the lowest weekly since late September.

Cases have remained in the single digits for 19 days straight, and no new deaths have been reported for three weeks, and just one death reported so far in June.

But even as Vermont’s Covid curve improves, one statistic mars its good record: The median age of new Covid cases has risen in the past few weeks, said Mike Pieciak, head of the Department of Financial Regulation, at Gov. Phil Scott’s weekly press conference Tuesday.

Pieciak’s presentation shows the median age of new Covid cases has gone from just over 25 in late May to early June to just under 40 as of Tuesday. 

The median age of Vermonters hospitalized for Covid has also risen from 51 in May to 61 in June. Pieciak said the rise in cases among older Vermonters could have led to a rise in hospitalizations in that age group.

Hospitalizations have also risen overall, but remain low. The state has reported eight hospitalizations this month, compared to 28 in May and a peak of 122 in January.

“It’s a little harder for me to give you a full assessment on the hospital, because we’re literally going from one or two cases a day to five or six cases a day,” said Mark Levine, the state health commissioner. He said that could mean it’s not statistically significant.

Older Vermonters have the highest vaccination rates in the state. Levine said, and “we’re still not seeing” many hospitalizations for people over age 60.

Scott reminded Vermonters that their ability to celebrate the coming Fourth of July is courtesy of the protective powers of the coronavirus vaccine.

“Vaccinated Vermonters can feel safe celebrating with their friends, attending parades and cookouts, firework displays, heading to the lake or state park, or doing just about anything you’d like without having to fear the virus,” he said.

As of Tuesday, 81.9% of Vermonters age 12 and older have started the vaccination process. That’s compared to the state target of 80% for reopening a few weeks ago.

About 3,600 Vermonters have been vaccinated in the past week, Pieciak said. His presentation data shows that the number of Vermonters starting vaccination has declined in recent weeks, from a recent peak of more than 2,000 per day to between 229 and 932 during the past week.

Vermont is transitioning its vaccination program from widespread pop-ups to more centralized locations, said Mike Smith, secretary of the state Agency of Human Services.

The state plans to have 10 to 14 Covid resource centers that would provide both vaccinations and testing, Smith said, and vaccinations would also be available from primary care health providers. Pop-up clinics would continue but would be more targeted, “going to locations that have been requested, and where vaccinations have, perhaps, lagged,” he said.

Vaccinations are an essential way to protect yourself against the spreading Delta variant, Levine said. The Delta variant is a more contagious strain of Covid that has affected the Midwest, presentation data shows.

Data based on sampling some Covid cases shows that roughly 18% of new cases in New England are the Delta variant. But Pieciak said regional cases are still lower than at any point during the pandemic.

“Again, you can tie this back to our very high vaccination rates. 66% of residents in the Northeast have started vaccination … and we’re also seeing that the states that are the most vaccinated are also seeing fewer hospitalizations and fewer deaths as well,” Pieciak said.

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