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Vermont COVID vaccination success continues to lead nation

July 6, 2021 GMT

The percentage of eligible Vermonters who have received at least the first dose of a vaccine against COVID-19 continues to lead the country, officials said Tuesday.

The latest statistics released during the regular weekly update on the state’s response to the virus statistics showed that 82.4% of the population 12 and older has been vaccinated, the top figure in the country.

Among other categories the state leads in are the percentage of the eligible population that is fully vaccinated, 73.1%, and the percent of the full population, including those under age 12 who are not eligible for vaccination, that is fully vaccinated, 64.6%.

The continued spread of COVID-19 in Vermont and across the country is largely among the unvaccinated.

“Being the most vaccinated in the country has built up of a line of defense for Vermont, but as we’ve said, we’re not resting on our laurels,” Gov. Phil Scott said during the Tuesday virus briefing. “There is still time to protect yourself if you haven’t done so yet. There is still a shot waiting for you.”

Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said Vermonters and the nation have witnessed what is probably the most successful population-wide mass vaccination campaign in the nation’s history.

“Our success with vaccinations here in Vermont has made our state the safest place to be in the country and arguably the world,” Levine said.

He said state officials have been getting phone calls and correspondence from officials from around the country and the world “asking for the secret of our success.”

When asked what those callers were told, Scott said there was no single answer as to why Vermonters have done so well.

“They have been willing from the start to do the right thing and not every state has that,” Scott said.

He said the reluctance of many people across the country to do more to confront the COVID-19 pandemic started with the Trump Administration where there was a hesitancy to communicate the threat posed by the pandemic. It started with anti-masking efforts and thoughts that the pandemic would be over quickly. It “went downhill from there.”

“We didn’t have that here in this state and I owe that to the people of the state of Vermont,” Scott said.

“We maintained our consistency. Again, trying to be honest, when we saw things were going in the wrong direction, we made changes,” he said.

Vermont has now gone 26 days in a row with new case numbers in single digits and the percentage decrease in case numbers from May to June, 84%, was the greatest drop since the pandemic began, according to Michael Pieciak, the commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulation who monitors COVID-19 statistics for the state.

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STATEHOUSE REOPENS

The Vermont Statehouse opened to the public Tuesday after being closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

People can tour the Montpelier landmark again, but guided tours won’t be resuming yet. Visitors will be able to take self-guided tours on their phones.

Vaccinations are recommended, but not required.

While visitors are allowed, lawmakers are still figuring out how they will continue to conduct the peoples’ business after the pandemic. During the pandemic, lawmakers held video meetings.

“We were able to flip the lights off pretty quick. I think that’s a testament to the flexibility of the Legislature and the public,” Capitol Police Chief Matthew Romei told WCAX-TV. “But flipping it back on is going to take a little bit of work.”

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NUMBERS

On Tuesday the Vermont Department of Health reported one new case of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total since the pandemic began to more than 24,430.

There were six people hospitalized, including two in intensive care.

There were two additional fatalities late last week — none were reported Tuesday — bringing the statewide total since the pandemic began to 258.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Vermont did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 5.29 new cases a day on June 20 to 2.43 new cases per day on Sunday.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.