During their weekly press conference Tuesday, the governor and the Vermont health commissioner revealed that about a third of COVID hospitalizations in Vermont were patients admitted for something else but who subsequently tested positive for the virus.
“Many of you have been asking for some time, how do we count COVID hospitalizations,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine. “In short, there are two categories: those who are hospitalized for COVID, and those who are diagnosed with it after being hospitalized for other reasons.
“Of the people in the hospital who have COVID, about 67 percent went in because of a COVID-related illness, and about a third were in the latter category, where they were in for another reason but tested positive for COVID.”
In other states, similar investigations revealed that non-COVID visits accounted for 49 percent of New York’s COVID hospitalizations and just over half of New Jersey’s COVID hospitalizations.
Levine nevertheless defended counting these patients as COVID hospitalizations, which this week topped 100 patents for 11 consecutive days. “Suffice it to say though, that every one of these patients is treated and attended to as appropriate to their COVID status and requires significant hospital resources and manpower,” he said.
Gov. Phil Scott also weighed in on the issue.
“From the very beginning we said that we were going to watch the hospitalizations and that’s what we’ve done,” he said. “When you couple that with the number of people that are in the hospital with COVID and because of COVID, we’re a milder variant. But hopefully if we keep following the hospitalizations, the health of Vermonters, I think that’s the best metric that we can use that’s consistent.”
On the issue of COVID vaccinations, Levine said that for the future, the administration will try to emphasize dropping the phrase “fully-vaccinated” and instead use “vaccines up to date.” This reflects the trend that two vaccines are no longer working sufficiently to prevent people from contracting and spreading the virus.
“The belief is, if you really want to consider yourself protected, you need to be boosted. And it’s wonderful that you chose to get your primary vaccines — but having done that, you now need to just keep up, just like you do with your tetanus shots,” Levine said.
Unlike the current vaccines developed for COVID, which are requiring additional booster shots within a matter of months, the standard tetanus inoculation has a clinical efficacy of virtually 100% and lasts about 10 years.
A new study in Canada, by Kyle Beattie from the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta, reveals that the vaccine rollouts correlate with spikes in COVID cases and deaths.
“In the United States, the COVID shot rollout appears to have actually increased the number of COVID-19 cases per million by almost 40%,” the report states. “Introducing COVID shots into the population during an active pandemic has also increased the number of COVID-related deaths per million by 31%.”
On matters of testing accuracy, Mike Pieciak, commissioner for the Department of Financial Regulation, noted that testing frequency affects case counts.
“You’ll see that testing has come down over the last week or so, down about 17 percent,” he said. “But again our cases are down more significantly than that, down about 27 percent. So the case reduction that we’re seeing in Vermont … there does seem to be a real decrease, and these other metrics seem to support that as well.”
To date, studies show around half or more of COVID-positive cases are asymptomatic — meaning they do not get sick. A study funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China in December 2021 revealed about 40 percent of the cases they studied did not exhibit symptoms.
In March 2021, the National Academy of Sciences concluded after monitoring COVID cases in New York City that the clear majority of all COVID cases were mild to asymptomatic. “Only around 13 to 18 percent of COVID cases end up yielding significant symptoms,” the report states.