Vermont Governor Phil Scott issued a statement on Thursday, November 4, regarding the continued growth in new COVID-19 cases in Vermont while holding the line on his stance against declaring a state of emergency.
The Governor reiterated one of the state's primary strategic goals, making sure Vermont hospitals have the capacity and resources to "serve all those who need care. His point, however, was that strategic goal is in jeopardy.
After lauding the success of Vermont's vaccination program since the early days of the pandemic, Scott conceded it was not enough to stop a potential shortage of hospital space.
"However, with roughly 126,000 Vermonters still unvaccinated, we continue to see cases increase, which is leading to more hospitalizations and deaths than we want to see. Today, we reported 487 new cases out of over 18,000 tests completed, which is the 2nd highest number of tests we've ever done," Scott said in his statement.
"But we do have to consider the impact this case count could have on our hospital capacity in the coming weeks," he added.
"If we stayed at this level of cases, based on our current hospitalization rate, there is potential to see the number of people currently hospitalized increase to over 80, which would be a significant strain on the system."
Scott has steadfastly opposed returning Vermont to a state of emergency, despite calls from concerned citizens, particularly those affiliated with schools and health care facilities, to return to more stringent measures to protect against the virus.
In several of his recent press conferences, Scott has reasserted that "now is not the time for a state of emergency, while not saying "when" would be the right time.
"Invoking a state of emergency is unnecessary at this time, but we need Vermonters to think about what they can do to protect those at risk of hospitalization and deaths. That means each and every one of us taking individual steps to protect the vulnerable in our lives – the elderly and those with underlying conditions like heart or lung disease, smokers, or people who are pregnant."
Scott has argued for some months now that COVID-19 is the virus of the unvaccinated in Vermont, pointing to the 53,000 adults in the state who have not yet gotten any shots. He renewed his call for every Vermonter to get vaccinated as he identified the burden on Vermont hospitals as coming from those without vaccines.
"Unvaccinated Vermonters are up to 5 times as likely to contract COVID in Vermont and they account for 70-85% of our hospitalizations and ICU stays. Unvaccinated adults are directly contributing to the strain on our hospital capacity. Enough is enough, it's time to step up and get vaccinated – something over 90% of your fellow Vermont adults have done."
Scott concluded his statement with another call for moving forward, continuing his implied belief that a state of emergency would take the state backward.
"We do not want to take any steps backward, but we need your help to make smart choices in your daily lives to protect the healthcare system and keep us moving forward."
The Scott administration has emphasized their firm belief that most Vermonters not yet vaccinated are not anti-vaccine but are delaying the treatment for other reasons, including waiting for more time to pass or making it a higher priority. But, unfortunately, no data has been provided to back up that position.
The Governor will hold his next press conference on Tuesday, November 9, at noon. Vermonters will have to wait until then to determine if the Governor will modify his position on a state of emergency if cases continue to increase and hospital capacities are further stressed.