Vermont, the state with the highest vaccination rate in the United States, is experiencing a COVID-19 surge at levels not seen since the pandemic’s peak last winter.
The number of cases in Vermont is at a record level, hospitalizations are close to the records notched last winter, and the state recorded the deadliest day and the second deadliest month of the pandemic in September.
“I think it’s clearly frustrating for all of us,” Michael Pieciak, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation who monitors coronavirus statistics for the state.
More than 69% of Vermont’s population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of September 24, according to the CDC, far above the national rate of 56%.
The state recorded the highest rate of hospitalizations per 100,000 residents on September 30, breaching a record set on January 31 last year. Eight people died of the coronavirus in Vermont on September 13, the highest grim total recorded since the outbreak of the virus.
In late August, four of ten cases of COVID-19 in Vermont were among vaccinated people, according to a letter signed by 90 employees of the Vermont Health Department, including state Epidemiologist Patsy Kelso.
Gov. Phil Scott (R) lifted the state of emergency in Vermont in June when 80% of the population had received at least one shot of the vaccine. He has since indicated he is wary of reimposing the state of emergency.
“We can’t be in a perpetual state of emergency,” Scott said this week.
The four states which follow Vermont in terms of the highest vaccination rates in the nation are also experiencing alarming signs.
The head of UMass Memorial Health, the largest health system in central Massachusetts, said recently that regional hospitals were seeing nearly 20 times more COVID-19 patients than in June and there isn’t an ICU bed to spare. Massachusetts has the fifth-highest vaccination rate in the nation.
In Connecticut, the second most vaccinated state in the U.S., the legislature recently extended the governor’s emergency powers to make it easier to cope with the latest wave of the pandemic.
On September 22, Maine, the third most-vaccinated U.S. state, had nearly 90 people in intensive care units, a pandemic peak for the state.