Gov. Ned Lamont said Thursday that Connecticut continues to make progress fighting the coronavirus with another low day of positivity, fewer cases in nursing homes and gradually increasing vaccinations.
“The numbers are all trending in the right direction,” Lamont said at his regular Thursday press briefing. “And I’m not sugarcoating it.”
The state on Thursday reported 547 newly identified coronavirus cases out of a total of 27,015 tests administered, for a positivity rate of 2%. One day prior, the state reported a rate of 1.6%, which is the lowest it had seen since mid-October.
Including Thursday’s numbers, the state’s weekly average positivity is now 2.5%. That number is still not down to the lows seen over the summer, when the state regularly logged rates below 1%. However, it’s also significantly lower than in recent weeks, when the weekly rate topped 7%.
Meanwhile, more than 90% of nursing home residents have been vaccinated. The state reported just 30 cases and 10 deaths among nursing home residents from Feb. 10 to 16, down from 483 cases and 111 deaths during the first week of January. The state also reported 40 cases among nursing home staff, down from 362 the first week of January.
About 68% of residents who are 75 and older have now been vaccinated, along with 29% of residents aged 65 to 74. In total, the state has administered at least one vaccine dose to more than 500,000 residents.
The state also reported 16 fewer hospitalizations on Thursday, for a total of 568 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19. That’s the lowest number that Connecticut has seen since Nov. 10.
There were 20 additional coronavirus-linked deaths. The number of deaths have slowed in recent weeks, although the state has mostly continued reporting double-digit numbers each day.
Dr. Thomas Balcezak, the chief clinical officer at Yale New Haven Health, said Thursday that the state’s coronavirus trends are encouraging — but that doesn’t mean Connecticut is entirely out of the woods yet.
“The falling number of COVID cases is really exciting,” Balcezak said. “But that said, it’s not a time for us to let up our guard, and I think we need to stay fully focused on all these public health measures, including masking, that we’ve been talking about for these last 11 months.”
Since the pandemic began, Connecticut has seen a total of 271,903 coronavirus cases and 7,496 deaths. Nationwide, there have been more than 27.8 million coronavirus cases and a total of 492,302 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.
Vaccination expansion announcement expected soon
Lamont said on Thursday that he plans to announce the next vaccination expansion next week, although he didn’t say when that expansion would actually take effect.
The state decided to tier the ongoing Phase 1B, meaning that some Phase 1B groups have become eligible before others. Currently, all residents aged 65 and older are eligible. (Those eligible from Phase 1A, which included health care workers and nursing home residents, continue to be eligible throughout Phase 1B.)
Next in line are frontline essential workers, including teachers and grocery store workers, and people with co-morbid conditions, such as cancer or Down syndrome.
Lamont said at his Thursday briefing that he will announce those two groups’ eligibility next week. He also said that the two groups will become eligible at the same time — although he later added that the state may create a tiered rollout among people with certain chronic health conditions.
That possibility leaves it unclear who, exactly, will become eligible next. Lamont said that he and his administration would provide more details at next week’s announcement.
Courant staff writer Alex Putterman contributed to this report.
Emily Brindley can be reached at email@example.com.