One day after Connecticut’s number of hospitalized coronavirus patients spiked significantly, that number fell slightly, state officials reported Wednesday, though the numbers are still trending in the upward direction.
Seven fewer people are now hospitalized, according to the state data, for a total of 374 people currently in the hospital with COVID-19.
Gov. Ned Lamont said at a Wednesday press appearance that the dip doesn’t ease his mind about the overall upward trend.
“I take no comfort in that except to say the rate of hospitalizations went up a lot faster in April than is going on in October, November," Lamont said. “We don’t have clarity but we have a little bit of time to think about how we can do everything we can to keep our economy open, keep our schools open and still make sure that we have capacity in our hospitals if we’re in a pinch.”
As Connecticut forges deeper into a second wave of COVID-19, the state’s positive coronavirus test rate has also continued to climb. The state on Wednesday reported a daily rate of 4.2% — which is notably higher than the summer months, when Connecticut’s rate remained mostly below 1%. The daily positivity rate depends in part on the number of tests administered, and Wednesday’s rate stemmed from 530 newly identified cases out of 12,550 tests administered.
But the state’s weekly average rate is also rising. Including Wednesday’s data, the state’s weekly rate hit 3.8%, which is the highest weekly rate that Connecticut has seen since June 6.
Deaths are climbing, too. On Wednesday, the state reported that 11 more people have died with the virus, for a total of 29 deaths since Friday. That means that, in the past five days, Connecticut saw almost as many deaths as in the entire month of August, when 33 people died with the virus.
While all of the state’s numbers are rising, Lamont said Wednesday that hospitalizations in particular will be “the determining factor” as he decides how the state should react to the ongoing outbreak.
“What we’re going to do is follow the hospitalization,” Lamont said. “That is a key metric.”
For now, officials at both Hartford HealthCare and Yale New Haven Health said their hospital systems have more than enough capacity to handle the influx of COVID-19 patients. But they also expect the numbers to continue to climb.
Dr. Ajay Kumar, chief clinical officer at Hartford HealthCare, said the system is currently “not stressed by any means." But over the span of just four days, Kumar said, the system also saw an increase of 29 COVID-19 patients, from 90 on Saturday to 119 on Wednesday.
And Kumar believes the number of hospitalized patients will continue to rise until a possible peak in December.
“Our modeling so far tells us that we’re going to continue to see [an] increase over the next several weeks,” Kumar said. “The models do indicate [a] significant increase by mid-December.”
Dr. Tom Balcezak, chief medical officer at Yale New Haven Health, said that hospital system has similar predictions for a peak in either December or early January.
“Our model shows that we are going to see numbers continue to slowly climb,” Balcezak said. “Our models are a little fuzzy at this time, but we’re not going to see a peak for another few weeks.”
Both Kumar and Balcezak said they believe their hospital systems will have enough room for COVID-19 patients, even at the second peak in a several weeks. But Balcezak added that ensuring that room might mean disrupting other medical care, similarly to what happened in the spring.
The severity of this ongoing outbreak, and the extremity of the responses from the state and the local hospitals, will depend on whether Connecticut residents can act proactively to stem the spread, Balcezak said. He urged residents to stay home during the holidays and to continue to take other precautions such as social distancing and mask-wearing.
“It’s in our hands again,” Balcezak said. “I put a strong plea out there to the public to do what we know works.”
As of Wednesday, Connecticut has reported a total of 75,373 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. A total of 4,645 people in the state have died due to the virus.
Nationwide, more than 9.4 million people have contracted the virus and a total of 233,356 people have died of it, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.
Emily Brindley can be reached at email@example.com.
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