Vermont has had a reputation this year for being one of the most — if not the most — vaccinated state in the union. And the media was sure to point that out over the summer when Vermont was seeing COVID-19 cases in the basement and Florida cases were spiking.
Now the tables have turned. Vermont is seeing record COVID numbers, and Florida is currently the nation's least infected state.
CNN posted a piece July 28 clearly meant to push the government line about getting vaccinated and simultaneously shame Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis for his state's high case count, reportedly due to the lack of restrictions and low vaccination rate.
The piece, "'I don't feel any fear going out.' How residents are living in America's most vaccinated state," shared stories from the Green Mountain State, where residents were enjoying activities — like dancing — they weren't sure were ever going to be possible again because of all the COVID restrictions their state had imposed.
But these dancers are all vaccinated. They reside in America's most vaccinated state -- 83.7% of Vermonters 12 and over have received at least one shot, according to health officials.
Throughout Vermont, hospital Covid-19 units are mostly empty. Bars and restaurants are hopping again. In remote rural towns, diners, country stores and campgrounds are filling up.
As the national health crisis evolves into "a pandemic of the unvaccinated," in the words of US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Vermont health officials tout the Green Mountain State as the safest place in America.
Many Vermonters are venturing out, unmasked and with no fear, just as the CDC recommended on Tuesday that fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors in US counties with soaring transmission rates.
"My question is, 'Do you want to have a life again?'" Schoenbeck said. "We're living. Get vaccinated. Get back in the game."
The report repeatedly referred to Florida and its high summertime COVID numbers, lamenting the Sunshine State's low vaccination numbers.
But things have changed — a lot — over the last three and a half months.
Today, Florida is has the lowest COVID infection rate in the U.S. at just seven per 100,000 people, the New York Times reported. Hospitalizations and deaths have also plummeted. And Florida's vaccination rate is actually on par with states like Washington, Oregon, and Delaware.
But Vermont is a different story.
It is still one of the most vaccinated states, according to data compiled by the Times — 71% of Vermonters are fully vaccinated (#1 in the nation), and 80% have received at least one dose (#2 in the nation) — but its COVID infection rate has skyrocketed.
While Florida is now 50th in infections per 100,000, Vermont is tied for seventh, with an infection rate of 49 per 100,000. The state's current rate is far above its previous record and shows no signs of slowing down. The state's hospitalizations are on the incline, and its recent death numbers have tied the state's previous records from last winter.