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News Roundup: Vermont Department of Health Reports 84 New COVID-19 Cases

A black trailer with a door and sign that reads Rescue Inc in blue lettering and below that COVID-19 vaccines in white sits in a parking lot, against a backdrop of mountains and blue sky.
Howard Weiss-Tisman
In Londonderry, the state of Vermont set up a mobile vaccination unit on Friday, March 19 to offer teachers and others working in schools and child care COVID-19 vaccines.

Vermont reporters provide a roundup of top news takeaways about the coronavirus and more for Monday, March 22.Want VPR's daily news in podcast form? Get up to speed in under 15 minutes withThe Frequency every weekday morning. How about an email newsletter?Add our daily email briefing to your morning routine.

The latest coronavirus data:


1. Vermont Department of Health reports 84 new COVID-19 cases

Vermont health officials reported 84 new coronavirus infections statewide on Monday.

That's after the weekend saw about 300 new cases over Saturday and Sunday.

Two more Vermonters died from the virus over the weekend, bringing the state's deaths due to the pandemic to 219.

COVID hospitalizations were up to 25 people today. That includes five people in the ICU.

The state's COVID-19 vaccination dashboard says more than 31% of adult Vermonters – about 171,000 people – have gotten at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine today.

- Matthew Smith

New York, Mass. report cases of P1 variant

New York has reported its first case of a COVID-19 variant known as P1, first discovered in Brazil.

Health officials confirmed the variant at New York City's Mount Sinai Hospital among a 90-year-old Brooklyn resident, with had no recent travel that may have exposed them to the virus.

The P1 variant was first detected in the U.S. in January, and the CDC has reported nearly 50 confirmed cases nationwide, including a confirmed case in Massachusetts.

The P1 mutation is considered to be potentially more severe than earlier variants, and possibly more resistant to current vaccines, though recent research indicates it may not be as resistant as initially thought.

- The Associated Press

Case counts continue to improve in Quebec, but variants are prevalent

The COVID-19 situation in Quebec continued to improve over the weekend.

The Montreal Gazette reports the province had nearly 650 new cases on Sunday, continuing a steady decrease in daily infections that peaked in January.

Cases of COVID variants in Quebec remained at more than 500, with the majority of those mutations – more than 300 – In Montreal.

All but four of the variant cases were the B117 strain first identified in the United Kingdom.

Quebec has seen more than 10,500 deaths since the start of the pandemic, thousands more than other provinces.

Just over 8% of Quebec has been gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to date. Nationally, Canada's vaccination rate is just under 7%.

- Matthew Smith

Orleans County schools go remote due to COVID-19 cases

Two Orleans County schools are shifting to remote learning this week due to the rising number of coronavirus cases in the area.

The Caledonian Record reports Derby Elementary School and North Country Union High School and Career Center will be remote this week.

In a letter to the community Saturday, North Country Superintendent John Castle said the number of cases for both students and staff meant "it is most prudent to switch to remote instruction" for the two schools this week.

Over the last two weeks, 160 new COVID-19 infections have been reported in Orleans County. Many cases have been linked with an outbreak at Newport's Northern State Correctional Facility.

- Matthew Smith

2. Vermonters 60 and older can sign up for vaccines Thursday

Starting this week, Vermont will begin a vaccination schedule that aims to let all Vermonters 16 and older sign up for a coronavirus vaccine by late April.

This week, Vermonters 60 and older can register for inoculation starting this Thursday, March 25.

The vaccination schedule laid out by Gov. Phil Scott and state health officials on Friday, then opens up eligibility by 10-year age bands over the next month, with the plan to fully vaccinate the state's population by July.

Those eligible for vaccination can register online at or by calling 855-722-7878.

Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine told Vermonters Friday that, with variants of the virus appearing in the region, ongoing prevention like masking wearing and social distancing should remain a priority.

- Matthew Smith

3. Gov. Scott optimistic about in-person high school graduations

There's some good news for graduating high school seniors in Vermont.

Gov. Phil Scott says he's encouraged that the state is making sold progress vaccinating members of the public, and as a result, it's likely the state will allow traditional high school graduation ceremonies to take place this June.

That's something that wasn't allowed last year.

“If we have the vaccination uptake we need and if we have the supply, you should be able to have a more traditional graduation and celebrate what you've accomplished with your friends and family,” Scott said. “After seeing the second half of your junior year and now senior year turned upside down, you deserve it."  

Scott is hoping most Vermont schools will return to a full schedule of in-person learning by the middle of next month.

- Bob Kinzel

4. State officials consider road signs to boost vaccine uptake in Essex County

State officials are considering using electronic road signs to help promote the use of vaccines against COVID-19 in Essex County.

Currently it's the county with the state’s lowest percentage of its population vaccinated against the virus.

The Caledonian Record reports Essex County has just over 23% of its population of adults 16 and older vaccinated. That's compared to more than 31% statewide.

The mobile electronic signs would be used to inform residents when and where vaccination clinics are being held, and how to sign up. The signs will also let people know the vaccines are free.

Agency of Human Services Secretary Mike Smith said it wouldn't take many more people to sign up to bring the county's numbers up to the statewide average.

- Matthew Smith

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