Rep. Sibilia: COVID-19 Community Spread

Good evening,

The health department reported 505 new COVID-19 cases today. 52 people are hospitalized and 13 are in the ICU. Despite more then 80% of Vermonters aged 12 and older being fully vaccinated, we are seeing a period of significant spread of the virus.

So if we are so vaccinated, why is the virus spreading? 20% of people aged 12 or older are not vaccinated. Children under 12 to 5 years of age have just started vaccinations. J&J vaccine protection apparently doesn’t last as long. Many people are coming to the point where a booster is recommended.

Despite being vaccinated, and pretty careful, I have been dealing with a breakthrough case of COVID myself. So far I feel like like I have a bad cold. I’m quarantining, cooperating with contact tracing and I don’t have any serious complicating health factors, so hopefully I will not get sick enough to need hospitalization. But if I do get that sick, I hope there is not only a bed, but doctors and nurses available to care for me. That’s the real issue and the responsibility we continue to need to have to one another. There are not an infinite number of hospital beds. We have had a workforce shortage for years, including healthcare workers. If we max out our healthcare system, what happens to our friends and family involved in car accidents, with cancer diagnoses or pregnancy complications?

The governor is calling for all folks to voluntarily wear masks inside. He is being strongly urged by legislative leaders to issue an emergency order for masking inside. Please get vaccinated, boosted if you’re eligible and wear a mask inside with others.

See info below from Southwestern Vermont Medical Center:

As you may have heard, last week, Vermont broke a record for the number of COVID cases recorded. This week, predictably, hospitalizations increased. These circumstances have put some strain on the hospital system. For the sake of our doctors, nurses, and support staff, we have an interest in discovering the causes of this increase and making recommendations that we hope will bring the situation to a more manageable level.

Factor: Unvaccinated people are most likely to test positive. This includes people who are ages 5 – 11, who are only just recently eligible for vaccination. The highest rates of positivity are among those 20 – 29 and 5 – 11. Unvaccinated adults who are 50 or older are most likely to have a case of COVID requiring hospitalization.
Recommendation: Get vaccinated, and get your children vaccinated. All of the information you need is at https://www.healthvermont.gov/covid-19/vaccine.

Factor: Because most people in Vermont got their vaccines early, they likely kept overall transmission of COVID low. This could translate to lower immunity and increased vulnerability to the Delta variant for those who are not vaccinated. In other words, the pandemic had an opportunity to really gear up before hitting home here in Vermont.
Recommendation: Again, those who are unvaccinated should get vaccinated as soon as possible. Someone who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine today could be one day short of fully protected by Thanksgiving.

Factor: Many Vermonters got vaccinated as soon as they were eligible, so after many months, the immunity they received from the vaccine is likely waning. Healthy vaccinated people, even those whose immunity has waned, are still mostly protected from serious cases of COVID and those that require hospitalization. 
Recommendation: Get boosted. A booster will renew waning immunity. You are very likely eligible. If you were vaccinated with Pfizer or Moderna 6 months or more ago or with Johnson & Johnson 2 months or more ago and you feel that you have an exposure risk, you are eligible to receive a booster. Visit https://svhealthcare.org/COVID-Resource-Center to schedule.

Factor: We are behaving more normally. People have resumed some of the gatherings and other activities that they had avoided earlier in the pandemic. This leads to increased spread and increased cases.
Recommendation: At this point, it makes sense to use extra care when going about errands or gathering with others. As always, stay home when you get sick and get tested if your symptoms have any similarities with COVID. Otherwise, wear a mask indoors or in crowded outdoor spaces and keep your gatherings small, among vaccinated people, and outdoors, whenever possible.

This is not over. As the weather gets colder and the holidays approach, it could get worse. And no one recommendation will work to solve this problem. As Dr. Mark Levine noted in a press conference on Tuesday, we have to follow all of the recommendations at once. Doing so will relate to a drop in cases, more manageable hospital capacity, and a much happier Thanksgiving for everyone.

Marie George, MD, FIDSA, is an infectious disease specialist at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington.

Legislative Preview with Rep. Sibilia and Rep. GannonVermont’s 2022 legislative session will begin on January 5th. Deerfield Valley Representatives Laura Sibilia and John Gannon are hosting a series of online meetings to break down some of the issues the legislature is expected – or required – to take up. Join us Thursday mornings at 8:30 am:

Thursday November 18th at 8:30 am Pupil Weighting
Thursday December 2nd at 8:30 am Vermont’s Pension System

Join Zoom Meeting online: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/734376857?pwd=Z1BmNmlwcWxJMWxVZTFaZE96MmlQQT09or by phone  +1 646 558 8656 US Meeting ID: 734 376 857 Passcode: 003089

If you have questions or need assistance accessing the meeting please email  lsibilia@leg.state.vt.us or jgannon@leg.state.vt.
Many thanks to the Wardsboro and Dover Public Libraries who have agreed to allow me to host monthly in person public office hours at the Wardsboro library on the 3rd Thursdays from 6-7 pm next on November 18th and at the Dover Free library on the 3rd Tuesdays from 6-7 pm and next on November 16th

Because I am quarantining – I will not be meeting in person this month.

I also host monthly online office hours on the 3rd Saturday of the month from 11-noon next happening on November 20th – you can join this online meeting here or by calling +1 646 558 8656 Meeting ID: 734 376 857 Passcode: 003089.
Vermont pediatricians are hosting online conversations about COVID-19 vaccines for children! See how you can join in

5 year old and up now eligible. Families will be able to make appointments for state-run sites through the Vermont registration system. With support from EMS and other health care partners, the Health Department has also arranged for clinics in nearly 100 schools across the state over a six-week period, beginning on Monday, November 8. In addition to these, families can get vaccinated at pharmacies or some pediatrician’s offices and family practices.Appointments for both the school-based and state-run clinics can be made at healthvermont.gov/KidsVaccineor by calling 855-722-7878. Families may need to add their child as a dependent in the registration system.

Get extra protection with a booster shot. You should get a booster if you are:18 or older and you received your Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months65 or older and you received your second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months agoFor Pfizer and Moderna boosters, if you are 18-64 you should get a booster if you received your second dose at least six months ago and you feel at risk of getting COVID-19. The CDC defines risk as:having certain medical conditions, including mental health conditionsworking in a job that increases your risk of COVID-19 because you are indoors, exposed to the public and to other workersliving in a long term care facility, group home, college dormitory or other congregate settingare Black, Indigenous or a person of color (BIPOC) or live with someone who is BIPOC.
As always, if you have suggestions, concerns or critiques please be in touch so we can schedule time to discuss.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions, or if you need assistance navigating government services at (802) 384-0233 or lsibilia@leg.state.vt.us. Follow my regular posts online at http://www.laurasibiliavt.com
Kind regards, 
Rep. Laura Sibilia Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro, Whitingham

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