CDC modeling presents ‘murky’ future for delta variant in Vermont

Coronavirus

MONTPELIER – Vermont’s seven-day case average has risen by 27 percent since Labor Day, but state officials say it’s difficult to predict where the Delta surge will go from here.

Last week’s delay in case reporting has thrown the Center for Disease Control & Prevention’s ensemble model into uncertainty. The model takes 19 different forecasts into account, and while Department of Financial Regulation Commissioner Michael Pieciak typically aggregates them into one for his weekly presentation, on Tuesday he highlighted their variability:

CDC Ensemble Model (September 18, 2021)

“It’s a moment in time where we’ll just need a little more data to understand the trajectory we’re going to be on,” Pieciak said. “We saw some improvement last week, but again, we also saw some technical issues with the case reporting. Those technical issues make it a little unclear what our forecast is.”

Amid the uncertainty, Governor Phil Scott stood his ground in rejecting calls for a State of Emergency. He said the data doesn’t support it, his team hasn’t recommended it, and emphasized that there’s downsides to another round of restrictions.

“Broad restrictions have harmful impacts in other areas like people not addressing their healthcare needs, isolation of older family members, remote learning and business closures that put people out of work,” Governor Scott said.

Although cases are rising, Governor Scott said that’s not the only thing that should be taken into account these days. He said vaccines have largely lessened the severity of illness, and Vermonters have adapted to making their own judgement calls when it comes to gatherings, masking and other precautions.

We are not in the same place we were six months ago, and neither are Vermonters, who have been re-evaluating their risks because of the vaccine,” Governor Scott said. “We simply cannot be in a perpetual State of Emergency. It sets a dangerous precedent and would be an abuse of my authority, given that vaccines are proving to be so effective in protecting people.”

He said the most important metric when it comes to those decisions remains hospitalizations and hospital capacity.

“We want to make sure we can protect the system we have in place, when that is in jeopardy, then you could see that we might make some changes, but until then it’s not going to be case counts, it’s going to be a number of factors,” Governor Scott said. “We’ll do it as a team.”

As of Monday, 47 Vermonters were in the hospital with COVID-19. 46 were adults, and 35 of those adults were unvaccinated.

The unvaccinated case rate has increased 21 percent in the last 7 days, while the fully vaccinated case rate rose just 7 percent.

As of Tuesday, 87.4 percent of eligible Vermonters have started vaccination.

“Please get vaccinated, watch the health department guidance, and pay attention to what you are doing so we can get through this Delta wave and continue to move forward,” Governor Scott said.

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