New England Has Highest Vaccination Rates in U.S., Yet States Seeing COVID Cases Surge

Despite being the state with the highest vaccination rates, New England is seeing a surge of COVID-19 cases, the Associated Press reported.

According to statistics from AP, although "full vaccination rates across the six New England states range from a high of 69.4 percent in Vermont to 61.5 percent in New Hampshire"—higher than the U.S. average, 55.5 percent—parts of New England "are seeing record case counts, hospitalizations and deaths that rival pre-vaccine peaks."

"I think it's clearly frustrating for all of us," said Michael Pieciak, the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation's commissioner monitoring their COVID-19 statistics.

Maine infectious disease specialist Dr. Gretchen Volpe told AP that in light of the Delta surge, "physicians who are transferring people have commented to me that they keep having to go farther and call more places" in order to receive healthcare. Maine governor Janet Mills' vaccine mandate for healthcare workers went into effect on Friday, but The Portland Press Herald reported that healthcare workers have been given until October 29thbefore the mandate will be enforced as a requirement for providers to keep their medical licenses.

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Dr. Gretchen Volpe said that in light of the Delta surge, “physicians who are transferring people have commented to me that they keep having to go farther and call more places” in order to receive healthcare. Here, paramedics transport a COVID-19 positive woman to a hospital on September 15, 2021, in Houston, Texas. John Moore/Getty

UMass Memorial Health in Massachusetts recently told AP that regional hospitals contained almost 20 times for COVID-19 patients than they did in June, "and there isn't an ICU bed to spare."

The state of Connecticut's COVID-19 report said that as of September 30, 2021, out of 2,343,473 people who have had both doses of the vaccine, 58 percent contracted COVID-19. The Connecticut Legislature recently voted to extend Governor Ned Lamont's emergency powers for the sixth time during the pandemic in order to gain more control of the situation, according to AP.

Despite lifting Vermont's state of emergency in June, Vermont's Republican Governor Phil Scott is still taking measures to ensure people's safety, such as recommending that schools require masks and that people wear masks indoors. But he is not enforcing other measures that were set during the state of emergency.

"We can't be in a perpetual state of emergency," he said.

Dr. Tim Lahey, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington, told AP that although people definitely need to be cautious, there are reasons to be optimistic-people were not locked down, and life is slowly getting back to normal.

"Vaccination [has] made it so we can withstand the brunt of [the Delta variant] with losing fewer of our neighbors while still having the quality of life that we enjoy in Vermont," Lahey said.