CDC reports 3 Vermont counties have ‘high’ Covid transmission levels

The CDC’s map of Covid-19 community levels, updated Thursday evening, shows areas of high transmission in orange, medium transmission in yellow and low transmission in green.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rated three Vermont counties — Washington, Essex and Windsor — as having “high” Covid-19 community transmission levels in its latest data update on Thursday evening.

Orleans, Caledonia and Orange counties were rated as having “medium” Covid transmission, according to the CDC. 

In response to the CDC rating, U-32 High School in East Montpelier, in Washington County, began requiring masks effective immediately, along with other schools in the Washington Central Unified Union district, according to an email from school administrators.

“We need to normalize masking in times of high viral activity, as we have seen this virus change multiple times and should assume we will continue to see changing levels of transmission within our community,” the district’s superintendent and Covid coordinator wrote in a letter to parents.

The district’s mask requirement applies for the week of March 28 to April 1, at which point administrators plan to reevaluate based on the latest CDC rating, according to the letter.

The CDC’s “community levels” rubric combines several different Covid metrics — including the recent case rate, hospitalizations and hospital capacity — to assess how much transmission is occurring within the community. 

The CDC recommends that individuals in high-transmission counties wear masks regardless of vaccination status, among other actions, while people in medium-transmission counties should consider precautions if they are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease.

Vermont reported 159 new Covid-19 cases, 12 hospitalizations and no additional deaths Friday.

The state’s seven-day average for new infections is 137, up from 135 on Thursday, according to the Vermont Department of Health dashboard.

Vermont’s seven-day average test positivity rate was 5.1% Friday, up from 5.0% on Thursday. (The test positivity rate includes only PCR tests, not at-home antigen tests.)

The health department reported that 12 people were hospitalized with Covid as of Friday, down from 16 on Thursday. That includes no people in intensive care, the first time Vermont has reported no intensive care patients since August 2021. The state had reported three people in intensive care on Thursday.

The health department reported no additional Covid deaths on Friday. Eleven people have died from Covid in Vermont so far in March, and 615 people have died in total since the beginning of the pandemic.