Virus Outbreak-Omicron Variant

An electron microscope image made shows a coronavirus particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. Bennington County is among seven Vermont counties rated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control as having high community levels of COVID-19. 

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BENNINGTON — Bennington County is among seven Vermont counties rated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control as having high community levels of COVID-19.

That, along with Vermont Department of Health figures showing the county has the third-highest rate of cases per 100,000, has people revisiting past precautions.

The Health Department reported that Bennington County reported 277 cases in the past 14 days with a rate of 921.8 new cases per 100,000 people in the past 14 days. That put the county third statewide behind Washington County, at 1,006.2 per 100,000, and Chittenden County, at 921.8 per 100,000.

Those three counties join Addison, Franklin, Grand Isle and Orleans counties as rated “high” by the CDC.

People in those counties are advised to wear masks indoors in public, stay up to date on vaccines, seek testing if they develop symptoms, and take precautions if at risk of developing severe illness.

Windham, Rutland and Essex counties are rated as “low” by the CDC, with the remaining counties rated at medium risk.

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Statewide, Vermont reported 417 new cases, with 60 persons hospitalized and eight in intensive care. The state’s seven-day average of positive COVID tests now stands at 13.3 percent.

The news, and an outbreak of COVID among members, led the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Bennington to make Sunday’s planned in-person service a remote-only event.

“Several positive tests for COVID among UU members and a surge in local cases has prompted the change,” the fellowship said.

At Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester, Headmaster Mark Tashjian said in an email to families that the school had seen nearly 30 cases of students testing positive for COVID since the end of the school’s spring vacation.

“We will continue to follow state guidance regarding mitigation measures. In other words, we will remain masks-optional unless and until state health officials determine that we should do otherwise,” Tashjian said. “However, given the rise in case counts, you may want to consider taking the option of wearing a mask.”

In the K through eight schools of the Bennington-Rutland Supervisory Union, Superintendent Randi Lowe said she has not seen a spike in cases since students returned from vacation. “There are cases, but I am not seeing anything concerning at this point,” she said.

Greg Sukiennik covers government and politics for Vermont News & Media. Reach him at gsukiennik@benningtonbanner.com.

Greg Sukiennik has worked at all three Vermont News & Media newspapers and was their managing editor from 2017-19. He previously worked for ESPN.com, for the AP in Boston, and at The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, Mass.