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Health update: Dr. Mark Levine addresses Vermont's rising COVID case numbers

a tall man in a grey-brown suit stands at a brown wooden lectern before several microphones, as other men in dark grey suits stand in the background in front of a white wall.
Wilson Ring
Associated Press
Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine, pictured here in a June 2021 file photo, joins Vermont Edition to share the latest on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vermont's daily COVID case numbers have fallen significantly since a peak in January, and many schools and workplaces are rolling back safety restrictions like mask mandates. But now the state is seeing case numbers and hospitalization rates start to creep back up.

This hour, we speak with Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine for the latest on the pandemic. We'll also address some important questions from Tuesday's conversation on fatal opioid overdoses.

After months of decline, daily COVID case numbers in Vermont have starting going back up due to the new omicron subvariant BA.2.

The health department reported 370 more cases this week compared to last week.

Dr. Levine told Vermont Edition that BA.2 is highly transmissible, but less likely to cause severe illness.

"We're still not seeing a rapid uptick in the hospital rates to where we were with the peak of omicron." he said. "But these are the numbers we have to watch very carefully."

As the state's percent positivity rate rises—now above 10%—Levine said the positivity rate is less useful as a data point than it once was.

"It's going to represent mostly people who are symptomatic, and [who] are getting tested for that reason," he said, "and it doesn't include a lot of people who are negative, or going through a surveillance kind of testing."

Levine said getting vaccinated and boosted are still the best ways to protect yourself from serious illness.

Broadcast live at noon on Wednesday, April 13, 2022; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or tweet us @vermontedition.

Mikaela Lefrak is the host and senior producer of Vermont Edition. Her stories have aired nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Marketplace, The World and Here & Now. A seasoned local reporter, Mikaela has won two regional Edward R. Murrow awards and a Public Media Journalists Association award for her work.
Matt Smith worked for Vermont Public from 2017 to 2023 as managing editor and senior producer of Vermont Edition.