The state of Vermont should be a COVID success story. It has one of the highest rates of vaccination in the Union. It has managed to maintain shockingly low levels of infection-related deaths compared to the rest of the country. Its hospitals are burdened not by the pandemic but by the conditions that went untreated in deference to the ongoing national emergency.

And yet, Vermonters are in a state of despair. “What we’re feeling right now is a collective sense of disappointment and sadness,” mourned the state Senate’s pro tempore, Becca Balint, in an interview with the Atlantic. With the onset of the winter months and the public’s annual migration indoors, the virus has returned. The state did everything right—indeed, it “earned” its “return to normalcy”—but the virus has not been eradicated. “If Vermont has finally lost control of the pandemic, what chance is there for the rest of the country?” the report asks gloomily.

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