By Guy Page
Vermont’s high number of Covid-positive children ages 5-11 followed unusually high testing, the Scott administration confirmed yesterday.
Gov. Phil Scott started his Tuesday press briefing by announcing the White House yesterday lauded Vermont for having the highest vaccine registration for children ages 5-11.
“The White House Covid Response Coordinator Jeff Zeints highlighted Vermont to all the other Governors as having the (most]) five- to 11-year-olds scheduled for vaccination – leading the nation once again,” Scott said. “As of this morning about one third of this entire population, about 14,000 kids, have signed up for their appointment or gotten their first dose.”
Scott added that, “It’s also important to know the five- to 11-year-olds are contracting Covid at the highest rate right now, which is why parents should sign their kids up as soon as possible.”
Statistics published by the Vermont Dept. of Health show the 5-11 age group did indeed show the highest rate of infection per capita. Positive cases among ages 5-11 went from about 50 per 100K at the beginning of last week to 90 by week’s end.
But the question remains – did the rate rise because children are actually contracting the virus at a higher rate than their elders, or because more children were tested? On Nov. 3, the testing reached 18,407 – the second highest in state history and the most since March, the Dept. of Health dashboard shows. However, it does not break down the testing by age groups. Tuesday, the administration didn’t deny the strong link between high positive cases and high testing, as shown in their responses to media questions.
Vermont Daily Chronicle: You and your officials today have mentioned that the increased cases among children are a reason to have them vaccinated. However, isn’t it also true that last week’s high numbers of positives among children was in direct proportion to the high number of tests among children?
Gov. Scott: “Well, certainly, we had – I think there was one day (Nov. 3) we had 18,000 tests (among all age groups) and a significant number of those – that was the big day that we had almost 500 positive cases. So the more testing you do, the more you find. So that could be. But I’ll let Commissioner (of Dept. of Financial Regulation Michael) Pieciak answer that.”
Com. Pieciak: When we look at the per capita rates for the five- to 11-year-olds, they’ve been the highest age group not just this week, or last week, or the week before that, but really for the last two months. We really haven’t noticed anything disproportionately in terms of the amount of testing. If we were to look at their positivity rate, it would likely have gone up like the rest of the states as well. So again, that’s really the reason for why it’s critical to get that age group vaccinated.”