Connecticut coronavirus cases spike, governor calls it a hot spot

By Nathan Layne
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Connecticut coronavirus cases spike, governor calls it a hot spot

FILE PHOTO: Testing site for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Greenwich, Connecticut

By Nathan Layne

(Reuters) - A total of 64 percent of the people tested for the novel coronavirus in Connecticut in the past 24 hours came back positive, a spike that underscored the state's status as a hot spot for the disease, Governor Ned Lamont said on Friday.

Of the 1,715 Connecticut residents screened for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, 1,090 tested positive, according to state data. A day earlier the percentage of positives was 16 percent.

While cautioning that the "numbers are bouncing around" on a daily basis, Lamont said that Connecticut deserved greater attention from the federal government, especially given the large number of cases in Fairfield County, a commuter hub to New York City, the outbreak's epicenter in the United States.

On Thursday, Deborah Birx, a member of U.S. President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force, said Connecticut could become one of the next hot spots for COVID-19, along with Michigan, Indiana, Georgia and Illinois.

"We've been trying to explain to Washington for some time that southern Connecticut is one of those hot spots," Lamont said at a daily briefing on the coronavirus.

The data released on Friday showed the number of cases increased by 1,090 from a day earlier to a total of 4,914, with 19 additional deaths for a total of 131. More than half of the deaths are in Fairfield County.

Click in a separate browser for a GRAPHIC on coronavirus cases in the United States.

Lamont predicted that the peak for hospitalizations would hit Fairfield County in two-and-half to three weeks, stretching the already strained hospitals in the area.

He said he believed Connecticut could meet the projected peak need for 12,000 hospital beds to treat COVID-patients but was less confident about ventilators, the breathing machines which are critical to keeping patients alive.

Connecticut has a little over 1,000 ventilators, but may need 4,000, Lamont predicted. He said his team was "scouring the globe" in search of the machines, while also talking to a manufacturer in the state about boosting supply.

(Reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut; Editing by Sandra Maler and Grant McCool)