Despite having the highest vaccination rates in the country, there are constant reminders for most New England states just how vicious the delta version of the coronavirus is.
Full intensive care units are appearing in hospitals across the region, and staff shortages are beginning to affect care. Government officials are urging those who are not vaccinated to get the shot. Health care workers are facing suppressed demand for other forms of care that were delayed by the pandemic.
“I think it’s clearly disappointing for all of us,” said Michael Piack, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation, which monitors COVID-19 statistics for the state. “We want children to be safe in school, we want parents to not have to worry about their child’s education and health.”
Even though parts of New England are seeing record case counts, hospitalizations and deaths amid pre-vaccination peaks, the region is more vulnerable to COVID-19 than other parts of the country. The deaths have not become the center of attraction.
According to data from The Associated Press, the five states with the highest percentages of fully vaccinated populations are all in New England, with Vermont leading the way, followed by Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. New Hampshire is ranked 10th.
According to AP data, complete vaccination rates in the six New England states range from a high of 69.4% in Vermont to 61.5% in New Hampshire.
Despite the relatively high vaccination rate – the average across the US is 55.5% – there are still hundreds of thousands of people in the region who, for one reason or another, remain uninfected and vulnerable to infection.
Now, a Rhode Island official said he doesn’t think the 70% vaccination target, once touted as the level that would help end the pandemic in the state, is sufficient.
“What we have learned with Delta and looking beyond Delta is that where our focus is also, to really reach those levels of vaccination, to give you real population level protection, you need 90% There needs to be more than that,” said Tom McCarthy, executive director of the Rhode Island Department of Health COVID Response Unit.
Officials across New England continue to push the unaffiliated to get shots as well as bolster vaccine mandates.
“We have the power to end this needless suffering and heartbreak; to find a way to protect our health and those we love; to give our heroic doctors, nurses and other medical professionals a much-needed break.” One way; a way to protect our children – please get vaccinated today,” Democratic Governor Janet Mills of Maine said recently.
Yet the head of UMass Memorial Health, the largest health system in central Massachusetts, recently said that regional hospitals were seeing nearly 20 times more COVID-19 patients than in June and there were also ICU beds. Not there.
In Connecticut, the legislature extended the governor’s emergency powers to make it easier to deal with the latest wave of the pandemic.
The case count in Vermont, which has consistently boasted about high vaccination rates and low hospitalization and death rates, is among the highest during the pandemic. Hospitalizations have been peaking last winter and September was Vermont’s second deadliest month during the pandemic.
On September 22, there were about 90 people in intensive care units near Maine, the peak of a pandemic for the state. Maine recently passed 1,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
An infectious disease specialist at the 48-bed York Hospital in Maine, Dr. Gretchen Volpe said the delta increase has made it harder to care for patients who need more help.
“Physicians who move people comment to me that they have to call more places to achieve that goal, Volpe said.
On Friday, the United States passed the threshold of 700,000 deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Deaths during the delta surge have been unreliable in hotspots in the south. New England has been on the other end of the spectrum, but the region is still facing the same boom that has devastated other parts of the country.
Vermont’s Republican governor, Phil Scott, received almost universal praise for his early handling of the pandemic, when his calm demeanor and reliance on science kept his state one of the safest.
But recently, he has faced criticism from some, including Democratic leaders in the state legislature and more than 90 employees of the Vermont Health Department, who signed a letter in August asking him to do more to counter the delta wave. was requested.
Scott lifted Vermont’s state of emergency in June, when the state became the first to see at least 80% of its eligible population shot.
He is now recommending that schools require masks and urging people to wear masks in crowded indoor spaces. But he will not restore the necessary mitigation measures that were in place during the state of emergency.
“We cannot live in a state of emergency,” Scott said this week.
An infectious disease specialist at the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington, Dr. Tim Lahey said he felt it was important to look at the situation more optimistically.
Unlike some others in the area, his Vermont hospital is busy, not overwhelmed. People still need to be cautious, but they are not locked down and there is a sense of normalcy in outside life.
“We all hate the word ‘delta’ now, but has vaccination made it so that we can bear the brunt of the delta without losing our lesser neighbors, while still enjoying the quality of life we live in Vermont? I enjoy?” he said. “Yes.”