Daily coronavirus updates: Connecticut hospitalizations and positivity up slightly; Massachusetts tightens restrictions

Emily Brindley, Hartford Courant

Connecticut on Tuesday reported an increase in coronavirus hospitalizations for the first time in several days, but overall the number of people in hospitals appears to have plateaued just as the state heads into the potentially high-risk post-Christmas period.

The state reported Tuesday that 16 additional people were hospitalized, for a total of 1,159 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19. On Dec. 1, Connecticut reported nearly the same number — 1,152 people hospitalized.

Throughout the month, the hospitalization number has jumped up some days and down others, but it has stayed within a relatively tight range. It hit a high of 1,269 on Dec. 15 and a low of 1,143 on Monday.

The daily positivity rate also inched up on Tuesday, when the state reported 1,583 newly identified cases out of a total of 23,737 tests administered — for a daily positive test rate of 6.7%. However, in part because the state reported a relatively low number of test results on Tuesday, that daily rate only raised the weekly rate by one-tenth of a percent — from 6.1% on Monday to 6.2% on Tuesday.

That rate is still significantly higher than in the summer months, when the state frequently reported a rate below 1%.

While hospitalizations and positivity rate remain approximately steady, Connecticut continues to report a significant number of coronavirus-linked deaths each day.

On Tuesday, Connecticut saw an additional 27 coronavirus-linked deaths. So far in December, Connecticut has reported 683 coronavirus-linked deaths. With more than a week left in the month, December has already brought more coronavirus-linked deaths than any month since May.

And in the seven-day period ending on Tuesday, the state reported 237 deaths — more than in any seven-day period since May.

Since the pandemic began, Connecticut has seen a total of 168,960 coronavirus cases and 5,703 deaths.

Nationwide, there have been more than 18.1 million coronavirus cases and a total of 321,301 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.

Massachusetts governor announces tighter restrictions

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced Tuesday that, after Christmas, he will reduce the maximum capacity at a number of businesses and lower the number of people allowed at private gatherings.

Beginning on Dec. 26, restaurants, theaters, retail businesses and places of worship, among others, will be capped at a maximum of 25% capacity. Private gatherings will be reduced from a maximum of 25 people outdoors and 10 people indoors.

According to the Massachusetts state website, the restrictions will remain in place until at least Jan. 10.

At a press conference, Baker said the restrictions are “part of what we must do during this critical period when the vaccine is just a few months away to slow the spread,” according to MassLive.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo instated a similar — though stricter — set of temporary restrictions after the Thanksgiving holiday. That state’s three-week “pause” ended on Dec. 20.

However, in Connecticut, Lamont has shown no indication that he plans to alter the state’s current reopening guidelines either permanently or temporarily. The governor has stuck to that stance even as dozens of physicians have asked him to shut down indoor dining and gyms, for fear that the hospitals will become overcrowded with coronavirus patients.

But, in comparison to Massachusetts’ existing restrictions, Connecticut’s are already stricter in some ways — for instance, in Connecticut, both indoor and outdoor private gatherings are already limited to a maximum of 10 people.

Emily Brindley can be reached at ebrindley@courant.com.