Coronavirus daily updates: COVID-19 positivity rate, hospitalizations continue decreasing; Connecticut draws praise for vaccine rollout

Alex Putterman, Hartford Courant
·3 min read

Connecticut’s coronavirus positivity rate remained low Friday, while its total of patients hospitalized with the disease dropped for the third day in a row — signs the state is recovering, gradually, from its devastating second wave of COVID-19.

Gov. Ned Lamont on Friday announced 1,258 new COVID-19 cases out of 34,577 tests, for a positivity rate of 3.6%. The state’s seven-day positivity rate now stands at 4.2%, the lowest it has been since Nov. 11.

The state currently has 985 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, down 10 from Thursday and the fewest at a time since Nov. 26.

Connecticut’s numbers remain far higher than they were last summer and early fall, but recent trends suggest the state will continue to see fewer and fewer cases and hospitalizations, as well as fewer deaths, in the coming weeks.

Despite encouraging trends in Connecticut, local health experts have warned against complacency, emphasizing the need for further masking and social distancing, especially as more contagious variants begin to spread.

“We’re so close now,” Dr. James Cardon, chief clinical integration officer at Hartford HealthCare, said earlier this week. “Just hold the line, wear a mask, wash your hands, don’t congregate. Get us over this and the state will come through in great shape.”

Lamont on Friday announced 26 additional coronavirus-linked deaths, bringing Connecticut’s total to 7,046 during the pandemic, seventh most per-capita of any state. Connecticut will end January having reported 1,049 deaths during the month, more than in any other month since last spring.

COVID-19 deaths are considered a lagging indicator of viral spread, meaning the number of new fatalities typically trends behind the number of new cases and hospitalizations.

The United States, like Connecticut, has begun to report declines in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations but continues to see near-record numbers of coronavirus-linked deaths. The nation has now recorded 434,696 COVID-19 deaths during the pandemic, most of any nation, according to the Coronavirus Resource Center at Johns Hopkins University.

Connecticut gets vaccine shoutout

Connecticut drew praise Friday from White House senior advisor Andy Slavitt, who noted the state’s high rate of vaccination for its adult population during a COVID-19 press briefing.

“I want to call out seven states that have already provided first vaccinations to more than 10% of their adult populations,” Slavitt said, listing Alaska, West Virginia, New Mexico, Connecticut, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Connecticut has administered at least one vaccine dose to about 330,000 residents, about 8.8% of the state’s total population, which includes both adults and children. About 67,000 residents have received both of their required vaccine doses.

Vaccine appointments remain open only to healthcare workers, nursing home residents, medical first responders and residents age 75 or older, with individuals age 65-74 expected to become eligible in the coming weeks.

New London, Wethersfield, Windham record high numbers of new cases

New London, Wethersfield and Windham recorded the most COVID-19 cases per capita from Jan. 10-23 of any Connecticut municipalities, according to state data released Thursday.

Canterbury, Hampton, Griswold, Voluntown, Norwich, East Haven and New Britain also recorded high rates of new cases.

Bridgeport, the state’s largest city, had the most total COVID-19 cases during that period, followed by Hartford, New Haven, Waterbury and Stamford.

As of Thursday, 163 of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities qualified for the state’s “red-alert” status, indicating at least 15 daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents.

Youth hockey still on hold

Northeastern and New England governors announced Friday evening they would extend a suspension of interstate youth hockey competition through at least the end of March. The ban includes all hockey competitions for public and private schools and youth hockey leagues.

The extension was agreed to jointly by governors of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Hampshire.

Alex Putterman can be reached at aputterman@courant.com.