BY ANGELO LYNN

BRANDON — While Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom has been rocked by Covid cases in recent months as the Delta variant ripped through the region, high case counts are also rearing up closer to home. The latest town-by-town data from the state Department of Health reveals how much a new spike in cases has affected southern Vermont in particular, including several towns in Rutland, Bennington and the southern parts of Addison counties.

Brandon, West Rutland, Orwell, Fair Haven, Shoreham, Proctor, Castleton and Rutland City have all just entered the highest category of case spread, defined as more than 80 cases per 10,000 people in the past two weeks. Bennington and Springfield are also in the highest category.

Other communities in that highest category include St. Albans, St. Johnsbury and Barre. Barre has been reporting high case rates since September.

Meanwhile, the Vermont Department of Health on Saturday tweeted that “due to the large number of Covid-19 cases” across the state, it’s prioritizing contact tracing people “at higher risk.”

Vermonters who test positive for COVID-19 were asked to “isolate at home away from other people and begin reaching out to close contacts immediately.”

“Due to the large number of COVID cases, we are asking Vermonters who test positive to isolate at home away from other people and begin reaching out to close contacts immediately,” the department wrote in a Nov. 13 memo. “The Health Department will prioritize contact tracing to people at higher risk.” The department further advised: “If you test positive for COVID-19, you may not get a phone call from a contact tracer, but you still need to stay home and away from others, and follow steps on our website to stop further spread.”

Brandon, West Rutland, Orwell, Fair Haven, Shoreham, Proctor, Castleton and Rutland City have all just entered the highest category of case spread, defined as more than 80 cases per 10,000 people in the past two weeks.

The health department reported ​​463 new Covid cases on Saturday, bringing the seven-day average to an all-time high of 367. A total of 44 people were hospitalized in Vermont, down from 52 on Friday. The share of hospitalized COVID patients in intensive care units remained at 13.

Two of the three most infected towns in the state as of Nov. 14, were: Brighton and Lunenburg of Essex County in Northeast Vermont, with 43 cases over the past two weeks in Brighton, and 36 cases in Lunenburg, a caseload of 372 cases per 10,0000 and 289 cases per 10,000, respectively. The town of Wells in Rutland County had the third highest incident rate in the state with 32 cases over the past two weeks, for 264 cases per 10,000 people.

The number of cases over the past two weeks and the caseload per 10,000 people, and the town’s ranking out of 251 towns and cities, for area towns are as follows:

• Fair Haven, rank 12th highest incident rate in Vermont; 52 cases past two weeks, 190 per 10,000;

• West Rutland, 26th, 33 cases past two weeks, 149 per 10,000;

• Brandon, 34th, 49 cases over the past two weeks; 119 per 10,000;

• Orwell, 40th, 13 cases, 105 per 10,000;

• Rutland City, 54th, 138 cases, 87 per 10,000;

• Shoreham, 55th, 11 cases, 87 per 10,000;

• Proctor, 57th, 15 cases, 85 per 10,000;

• Castleton, 60th, 36 cases, 81 per 10,000;

• Whiting, 68th, 3 cases, 74 per 10,000;

• Pittsford, 73rd, 20 cases, 70 per 10,000;

• Salisbury, 96th, 7 cases, 57 cases per 10,000;

• Sudbury, 99th, 3 cases, 55 per 10,000;

• Middlebury, 159th, 24 cases, 26 per 10,000;

• Leicester, 191st, 1 case, 10 per 10,000;

• Rutland town, 195, 3 cases, 8 per 10,000;

• Killington, 196, 1 case, 7 per 10,000.

Note: Erin Pentenko of Vt.Digger also contributed to this report.