As the force of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States has slowed, fatal cases per day have dropped from over 4,000 to less than 2,000 some days. America is not out of the woods. The 28,095,395 confirmed cases there remain about a quarter of the world’s total. The 494,925 fatal cases are about 20% by the same measure. Scientists and public health officials continue to express worry that variants that spread more rapidly and could be more deadly might cause an unexpected surge in cases and deaths. Also, the pace of vaccination forecast in late December and early January has not happened. However, in one state, the number of deaths dropped to zero yesterday, a modest symbol of national improvement.
Vermont has had low case and death counts since the start of the pandemic. Its 13,996 confirmed cases continue as the lowest among all states. Its fatal cases currently stand at 191. Some 2,530 fatal cases were added yesterday to the nationwide total, and in some states, the figure was over 100. Vermont had none. Even with relatively few fatal cases, they quickened in Vermont through January, as they did in the balance of the nation. Moreover, the vaccination rate in Vermont is above the national average, which bodes well for its short-term future.
Vermont’s low population may have been critical to its low confirmed and fatal case tallies. Other small states based on population had much worse results. Confirmed cases for Rhode Island have reached 122,440 and deaths total 2,352. Vermont, in short, did a better job protecting its residents.
Politico recently posted an article titled “9 states getting it right” that pointed out:
Vermont and Washington, which have been consistently praised by experts for keeping case and death counts low during all three surges of the virus, entered the fall with lower case counts than most. Both states have been quick to implement targeted public health measures when cases flare up, while benefiting from high levels of public buy-in.
Vermont’s government started with an aggressive plan to battle COVID-19 cases and pressed the plan through the worst periods of the spread of the disease. Vermont’s quarantine list even extended to counties in neighboring New Hampshire. It resorted to examining cars entering its borders. Its Department of Health still enforces a rule that “you may not gather with anyone you don’t live with” and discourages all nonessential travel, even inside the state.
Based on its public policy, Vermont was likely to be on the list of states with low fatal case counts. Its small population was a factor, but hardly the only one. The fact that it had no fatal cases yesterday is one sign that the pandemic has eased considerably in the United States.