Daily coronavirus updates: Connecticut’s COVID-19 hospitalizations, deaths surge; wait times increase at testing sites

Alex Putterman, Hartford Courant

Hospitalizations and deaths related to COVID-19 continue to increase sharply in Connecticut, state numbers show, as demand for testing causes increasingly long waits at some sites.

As of Monday, Connecticut has 496 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, up 94 from Friday and the state’s highest figure since May 30. Hospitalizations have nearly doubled in the past two weeks and nearly quadrupled in the past month.

Gov. Ned Lamont on Monday reported 27 coronavirus-linked deaths over the weekend, making 4,698 since the pandemic began. Connecticut has now reported 82 COVID-19 deaths during the first nine days of November, more than the state saw in August and September combined.

The state also announced 3,338 new positive results on 89,686 COVID-19 tests, for a positivity rate of 3.7%. The state has now recorded a 3.85% positivity rate over the past week, its highest over a seven-day period since June 6.

Connecticut’s recent surge of COVID-19 cases has caused a surge of demand for tests, resulting in long wait times at some sites. Hartford HealthCare on Monday reported two-hour waits at their Connecticut Convention Center site in Hartford and similarly long delays at other testing locations.

“It’s gotten dramatically worse,” said Dr. Mitch McClure, chief of hospital medicine at Hartford Hospital. “The demands are just crazy right now.”

McClure said demand first picked up in Eastern Connecticut, where COVID-19 spiked in September and early October and has now spread to Hartford and other regions. He said the increase likely owes to two factors: more people getting sick and more people growing concerned as the numbers spike statewide.

As a result, McClure said, Hartford HealthCare has already moved its Hartford testing site to the more spacious convention center and is “recruiting heavily” for staff to work all of its locations.

Dr. Reginald Eadie, CEO of Trinity Health of New England, said his system had also seen increased demand for testing, though wait times had not significantly increased.

Connecticut’s COVID-19 testing has increased steadily over recent months. As of Monday, the state had reported 184,088 test results over the past week, the most of any seven-day period during the pandemic.

The state has encouraged testing for all residents in “red-alert” towns and cities, which currently account for more than half the state population. Despite the increased wait times, McClure still recommends testing for anyone who fears they have COVID-19.

“If you have reason to be concerned that you have been exposed, you should get tested," he said. "I don’t want to tell anyone to back off from testing.”

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

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