Vermont Is a Vaccination Star. Why Cases Are Rising There.

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Call it the Vermont problem: Why are daily COVID-19 case numbers doubling in New England states with vaccination rates top 70%, and what does that say about the coming winter?

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Of all the states, Vermont has by far the most successfully weathered the pandemic, with the lowest death numbers and highest rates of both fully vaccinated people and those receiving boosters.

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And yet new cases of COVID-19 in Vermont have risen sharply in recent weeks. On an average, about 200 new cases were being reported a day in the state since October. By the end of November, the number was closer to 350.

The situation is similar to that of contiguous Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, all of which have vaccination rates of 71%, or 72%, and all of which have seen their average number of new daily cases nearly double recently.

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The surge in these well-protected states is raising fears of another dark pandemic in the US, as the coming cold weather pushes people inside and increases transmission of the virus. Already across the Atlantic, there are new shutdowns in Austria and the Netherlands, making Europe’s economic recovery even more volatile.

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Investors have been worried in recent weeks, and the S&P 500 index has stalled since early November after climbing 7% in October.

The good news for the US economy is that high vaccination rates mean winter growth here won’t bring about a lockdown. Still, the surge in cases will probably cut travel, spending and hiring, and cause economic disruption after the holiday season.

“If cases continue to rise, we could see some slowdown in services spending over the next month or two,” says Brett Ryan, senior US economist at Deutsche Bank. “If it gets severe enough, it slows down recovery, and really slows down recovery in services, and disrupts everything because of babysitting.”

The winter wave, if it does come, will not look like the pandemic waves of the past. While the pandemic is not over, and deaths will continue to accumulate among some vulnerable groups of people who haven’t been vaccinated, rising cases don’t mean they did what they did months ago. It is not dependent on any major changes disrupting the course of the pandemic.

One such possible change emerged in the US on Thanksgiving Day, when global health officials became concerned about a new type of virus identified in southern Africa. It’s too early to tell what the implications of the version might be, but stocks fell on Friday amid concerns that the version could pose a renewed threat, and some countries imposed new travel restrictions.

Howard Forman, a professor at the Yale School of Public Health and Yale School of Medicine, said ahead of Thanksgiving, “I don’t anticipate that there is either political will or that anything close to a shutdown is needed.” , “It would be hard for me to imagine that the pandemic would affect economic activity to the same extent as we have seen before, but could we have 200,000, even 300,000 deaths before the summer? very possible. And this should worry people. ,

A look at data from states like Vermont and Connecticut shows that what’s happening in the Northeast is a boom that’s heavily concentrated among uninsured people.

The associate dean of public health and health policy at the Lerner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont, Dr. “We have a highly vaccinated population here,” acknowledged Jan Carney. But that doesn’t mean, Carney says, that everyone in the state has been vaccinated. “It varies by county, and it varies by age,” she says.

As of November 23, more than 95% of Vermonters age 65 and older were fully vaccinated, and the average number of new cases reported in a day in the state for that age group was actually higher than the previous week. 14% less. Meanwhile, there has been a 13% increase in the case of people aged 25 to 49; For adults aged 22 to 29 in Vermont, the vaccination rate is just 62.8%.

Even more shockingly, COVID-19 hospitalizations in Vermont are down 25% in the past week for non-vaccinated and 23% fewer than the previous week for fully vaccinated.

The story is similar in Maine, where new cases are not rising as fast as some states in the Northeast, but where hospitalizations have increased by 29% in the past two weeks, according to New York Times data.

“Hospitals continue to tell us that 60% to 70% of their patients are not fully vaccinated,” says Robert Long, communications director for the Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Overall hospitalization rates are beginning to rise in the Northeast, with the average number of people hospitalized in Vermont for COVID-19 climbing 17% from November 16 to November 23, but it’s nothing like the Upper Midwest . Michigan, which has a vaccination rate of 54%, now has the highest Covid-19 hospitalization rate in the US, and the state’s governor has asked the federal government for emergency help from the US military to keep its hospitals running.

Most states have higher vaccination rates than Michigan, and vaccination rates continue to rise as vaccine authorizations expand to include younger children. For most of the country, major economic disruptions are unlikely. “What makes me think you’re going to go back to situations where essentially masking indoors becomes the rule of the day,” Forman says.

Deutsche Bank’s Ryan compares what is coming down to the end of last summer in the form of a delta wave. “You saw hiring slow, and I think that’s the risk,” he says.

Meanwhile, it is becoming increasingly difficult to predict the follow-up effects of the pandemic. take medtronic‘s
(Ticker: MDT) Recent sales slump in the second quarter of its fiscal year, which the company attributed to a shortage of nurses. Medtronic’s CEO, Geoff Martha, attributed the shortfall to burnout and early retirement. “During the height of COVID, ICU beds were full of COVID patients,” explains Martha baron’s, “That’s not the case now, but they don’t have enough ICU nurses.”

The COVID-19 pandemic is not going to end; Rather, it will dissipate as it moves into a spatial phase. The potential winter boom is a step toward a future when the virus impacts economic activity by hitting some regions, and certain geographies, harder than others, but not as devastating as it was in earlier times.

write to Josh Nathan-Kazis at [email protected]

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