News Feed: Vermont Dept. of Health reports 222 new COVID-19 infections on Monday – Community News

News Feed: Vermont Dept. of Health reports 222 new COVID-19 infections on Monday

Vermont reporters summarize top news about the coronavirus, Senator Patrick Leahy’s announcement today that he will not run for re-election to the U.S. Senate and more until Monday, Nov. 15.

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While the pandemic emergency has ended in Vermont, the delta variant is now circulating in the state. Click here for the latest news on new cases, and find the latest vaccination data online every moment.

1. Vermont Dept. of Health reports 222 new COVID-19 cases

Vermont’s COVID-19 positivity rate and hospitalization rate remain high today Monday as the health department reported 222 new infections, one additional virus-related death.

That average positivity rate from the past week is 4.3%, as the state added more than 700 new cases this weekend.

The number of hospitalized people rose to 52, 11 of whom were in need of intensive care.

Currently, 80% of Vermonters ages 5 and older have been at least partially vaccinated against COVID, including 11% of children ages 5-11.

Matthew Smith

Weekend COVID-19 cases remained high

The Vermont Department of Health reported nearly 300 cases of COVID-19 on Sunday and more than 460 on Saturday.

COVID-19 cases in Vermont nearly doubled in the first two weeks of this month, rising 91%, and the counties of Orleans and Essex are seeing more cases than anywhere else in the Northeast, according to data from the New York Times.

Counties of Caledonia, Bennington and Rutland are also seeing significant increases in cases.

Matthew Smith

Windham County’s NAACP Says It’s Working To Get Equal Access To Vaccines For BIPOC Residents And Children

Now that the Pfizer injection has been approved for children ages 5 to 11, a group in Vermont is working to ensure fair and equal access to the vaccine for children of color.

WCAX reports the Windham County NAACP — although it doesn’t offer vaxx clinics for black, native and colored children — IS is working with schools in Vermont and the Vermont Department of Health to tell parents where to get kids vaccinated.

The group also plans to monitor vaccine equity in Windham County.

The group is also hosting BIPOC vaccine clinics this weekend and next weekend for adults who want to get boosters and flu vaccines as well.

Mary Engisch

Citing possible waning immunity, health commissioner urges Vermonters over 65 to get their boosters

Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine is urging Vermonters 65 and older to get a COVID-19 booster shot, saying their protection against the virus is most likely starting to wane from their first vaccinations.

Recently, a number of studies on the effectiveness of the vaccinations found that their protection was reduced by about 20% about five months after receiving the second injection.

Levine says older Vermonters should seriously consider getting a booster shot as soon as possible.

“That their immunity is probably waning, and as one of the oldest states, the percentage of Vermonters in this situation is higher than most other parts of the country,” said Dr. Levine.

Based on recent statistics, Levine says that about half of all fully vaccinated Vermonters age 65 and older have received a booster vaccine.

Bob Kinzel

2. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont will not aspire to a ninth term

Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy will not aspire to a ninth term. The 81-year-old senator announced this on Monday in Montpelier.

“It’s time to put down the hammer. It’s time to pass the torch to the next Vermonter, who will continue this great work for this great state. It’s time to come home,” he said.

Leahy will step down at the end of his term next year.

Leahy, the longest-serving member of the United States Senate, was first elected in 1974. He is the only registered Democrat ever to have elected Vermont to the Senate.

Read or listen to the whole story here.

Liam Elder Connors

3. Recycling is profitable again in New England

The average value of a ton of recycling in 11 northeastern states was more than $184 in the third quarter of this year.

That’s according to the Brattleboro-based Northeast Recycling Council, and that price helps make recycling profitable.

In recent years, the group has calculated the value of recycling in this region, starting when the value was very low and companies were losing money on recyclable materials.

Now, however, prices have risen significantly – 43% in the third quarter of this year compared to the second quarter. And recycling is profitable again.

The NERC finds that the value of recyclable material is about twice as high as it costs to process. In 2019, the opposite was true. The value of recycling was less than half the processing cost.

Matthew Smith

4. Vermont Apportionment Board Weighs Changes to Vermont House Districts

A state council could soon make major changes to the makeup of Vermont House districts.

The Vermont Apportionment Board is to redraw the district lines based on the results of the 2020 census.

In its preliminary house map, the council has created 150 one-person districts. That’s a big change, because currently about half of all members of the House are elected from two-member districts. The change could cause several incumbents to compete against each other.

Board chairman Tom Little says many officials from two-man districts object to the new approach.

“We’ll see if that sticks around or if the Divisional Council will look at a combination of two- and one-person districts, as the Council did in its final proposal 10 years ago,” he said.

The board will make a final decision at the end of this month

The Northeast Kingdom could soon have less representation in the Statehouse

The Northeast Kingdom could soon have less representation in the Statehouse.

Tom Little, chairman of Vermont’s Apportionment Board, says several Senate district lines need to be adjusted as the new census shows southern counties and the kingdom’s northeast are losing population to the expanding northwest region.

Little says this means it is likely that one of the four senators from Essex-Orleans and Caledonia counties will be moved to Chittenden and Franklin counties.

“The constitutional guideline here is to focus on the population, by saying that the senators represent people and that’s really what pushes us in this direction,” Little said.

The Council’s recommendations are subject to legislative approval.

Bob Kinzel

More from VPR: Redistribution? reclassification? We ‘Ask Bob’ About What the 2020 Census Means for Vermont’s Political Map

5. Gov. Scott in Bennington Monday to celebrate new municipal wastewater system

Governor Phil Scott will be in Bennington Monday to celebrate the completion of a new municipal water system serving homes whose wells were contaminated with the chemical PFOA.

The Saint-Gobain company owned the plant in Bennington that used the chemical, and Vermont reached an agreement a few years ago to let them pay for the water pipes.

Scott joined other state and local leaders Monday to mark the end of the project, which will connect 445 homes to the city’s water system.

PFOA is one of the so-called “forever chemicals” because it does not degrade in the environment.

Exposure to PFOA has been linked to testicular cancer, liver damage, and thyroid disease.

Howard Weiss-Tisman

6. First Afghan Refugees Arrive in Vermont

The first three of up to 100 evacuees from Afghanistan are now in Vermont.

WCAX reports that three men are now living with host families: two in Chittenden County and one in southern Vermont.

Officials from the United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants said Friday the men are happy to be here and very excited to get to work and get to work.

The program helps provide case management, English instruction and other assistance to get new entrants into the job market.

Governor Phil Scott announced in September that Vermont was approved to host up to 100 Afghan refugees.

The Associated Press

7. Electric school buses take to the streets in Barre

School officials say two electric school buses could be on the road in Barre in a few weeks.

The Times Argus reports that the buses are part of a pilot project to test their effectiveness in colder climates.

Last month, Governor Phil Scott and education leaders celebrated the introduction of electric buses in Fairfax.

The buses are also used by the Champlain Valley School District.

Officials say the goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ultimately save school districts money.

An emissions scheme with Volkswagen is financing most of the project.

Matthew Smith

Abagael Giles composed and edited this post.

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