Vermont officials confident lower case counts mean a return to normal for summer

Local News

Burlington Mayor Weinberger touted another day of declining COVID-19 cases in Chittenden County, saying trends are pointing toward a more normal summer in the Queen City. . 

“Between high vaccination rates, I hope people will fully enjoy the outdoors this summer,” he said.

Three new cases were reported in Chittenden County on Tuesday, bringing the seven-day case average to five. A day earlier, Weinberger had urged City Council to lift the city’s mask mandate. However, councilors put off the decision on masks until its June 7 meeting, saying they wanted to see more young adults get their shots first.

Weinberger, however, said lifting the mask mandate in the city would incentivize others to get vaccinated.

“What I think people should grapple with is there is public health value in having different rules for vaccinated people versus unvaccinated people,” he said.

Dr. Stephen Leffler, president and CEO of the University of Vermont Medical Center, signaled his support for lifting the mask mandate. He said both the science and the lower case counts support guidance from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention that fully vaccinated Americans can ditch their masks.

“Over 90 percent of our older Vermonters chose to be vaccinated, they’re safe now. Their risk of infection is less than 1 in 2,000,” said Leffler.

And, he said, their risk of hospitalizations is even lower: 1 in 20,000.

“The age group that we serve is doing incredibly well. I do think there’s an opportunity with reaching to more diverse populations,” said Tracy Shamberger, director of Public Relations and Business Development for Age Well, a non-profit that has helped vaccinate older and homebound Vermonters.

“The most vulnerable population of older adults want to get back out. The sooner that everybody gets vaccinated the better,” said Shamberger.

Dr. Leffler applauded the state’s effort in bringing vaccination clinics to people on Church Street and North Beach. But he, too, is worried not enough young people are rolling up their sleeves. 

“I think our 18 to 30-year-olds, often times they’re busy they have a lot going on, so bring the vaccine to them. Make it easy, getting them Johnson & Johnson, meeting them where they’re at. That’s how we’ll get big numbers of those people vaccinated,” said Leffler.

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