Beth-El Court Covid-19 Vaccines

Sandra Champagne, 72, receives her COVID-19 vaccination at Beth-El Court Retirement Home in St. Albans in early February.

ST. ALBANS — A spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in Franklin County over the past two weeks has health officials concerned. The news comes on the heels of the announcement that a federal program will boost the number of vaccines heading to Vermont.

Enosburg and the surrounding towns of Franklin, Richford, Sheldon and Montgomery have all seen an increase in rates of new cases over the past two weeks, according to a Feb. 9 notice from the Vermont Department of Health. This culminated in a spike of 20 new cases from Tuesday to Wednesday. In addition to the spike over the last day, the Vermont Department of Health reports 214 new cases in the last two weeks.

“Cases have impacted multiple households and workplaces,” said Erin Creley, the Public Health Services district director for Franklin County.

The cases are not known to be associated with any outbreak, which is an indication of more widespread community transmission, the notice said.

Meanwhile, seniors at Beth-El Court, a retirement home in St. Albans City, received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine Wednesday. The assisted living facility received 32 doses, enough for every resident, as well as four staff members.

Sandra Champagne, 72, received her dose. She’s lived in the facility for three years.

“No pain. I didn’t hardly feel the needle! People shouldn’t be afraid,” she said.

Champagne is among residents who are already anticipating the second dose. That’s expected to arrive on March 3.

Richard Carr, who owns the development, says it’s a long time coming.

“We were expected to receive it in January but it was cancelled because of a supply shortage. My hope with this is that these people will be protected,” he said.

The rollout is part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Partnership, announced during a press conference held by Gov. Phil Scott Tuesday, which will add between 1,000 and 2,000 doses to Vermont’s weekly allocation.

Despite the progress that has been made to vaccinate the public, state officials say the public should remain vigilant in following health guidance to prevent spread of the disease.

“We are sharing this early signal to encourage community-wide public health interventions,” the Feb. 9 notice states.

For more information including guidelines and daily case updates, visit https://www.healthvermont.gov/covid-19

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