Daily coronavirus updates: COVID-19 hospitalizations jump by 14% over weekend; state pauses testing requirement for state employees to free up capacity

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Ned Lamont
    American businessman and 89th governor of Connecticut

Connecticut’s COVID-19 hospitalizations jumped by 14% in just three days this weekend, reaching the highest level in nearly 11 months.

The state continues to see large numbers of coronavirus cases as part of an ongoing winter surge complicated by the arrival of the highly contagious omicron variant.

At a press briefing Monday, Gov. Ned Lamont acknowledged the alarming trends but said he hopes the state can contain the outbreak without overwhelming its hospital system.

“Unlike a year ago or two years ago we’re in much better position to defend ourselves and we know what works,” Lamont said. “We know that masking works, we know that vaccinations work, we know that boosters work.”

Lamont reiterated Monday that he has no plans for a statewide mask mandate or other significant restrictions but did announce several smaller measures meant to aid the state’s pandemic response:

  • The state will pause enforcement of its testing requirement for unvaccinated public employees to free up testing capacity for the broader public.

  • The Department of Public Health will temporarily waive the state’s licensure requirements for certain professions to allow healthcare workers from other states to come to Connecticut.

  • Connecticut residents now have the option to store their vaccination data on digital vaccine cards, designed to let businesses more easily manage who is allowed to enter. Instructions for loading the cards are available at ct.gov/getmyvaccinerecord.

Experts say Connecticut is likely to see a further surge in COVID-19 cases over the coming weeks as the omicron variant begins to spread widely in the state.

“There’s an expectation that community transmission is going to be high in the next couple of weeks and may even be higher than we’ve seen in the past,” said Dr. David Banach, an epidemiologist at UConn Health. “But that’s coupled with some reassurance that the vaccines, particularly when someone has had a booster, provide protection against severe illness.”

As a result, experts advise caution when it comes to holiday gatherings.

“We have to think about what risks we’re willing and not willing to take,” said Dr. Marwan Haddad, who chairs Community Health Center’s COVID-19 advisory group. “The transmissibility of omicron right now is really, really high.”

Cases and positivity rate

Connecticut reported 6,209 new COVID-19 cases Monday out of 90,689 tests, for a daily positivity rate of 6.85%. The state’s seven-day positivity rate now stands at 7.16%, highest at any point since Jan. 12.

Connecticut has now averaged 2,006 daily COVID-19 cases over the past week, the most in a seven-day period since mid-January. Unvaccinated residents have been about five times as likely to test positive in recent weeks as vaccinated residents, according to state numbers.

All eight Connecticut counties — as well as the rest of those in the Northeast region — are currently recording “high” levels of COVID-19 transmission as defined by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With this level of transmission, the CDC advises people to wear a mask in public indoor settings.

Hospitalizations

As of Monday, Connecticut has 837 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, up 101 from Thursday and most at a time since Feb. 4. Coronavirus hospitalizations in Connecticut have now more than quadrupled since the end of October.

According to the state, 75.6% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. Hospital officials say the rate is even higher when looking specifically at people with severe symptoms.

Deaths

Connecticut reports COVID-19 deaths on Thursdays. Last week, the state recorded 56 deaths, bringing its total during the pandemic to 9,002.

As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have surged in Connecticut over recent weeks, deaths have risen slightly but still remain far below the levels recorded last winter.

The United States has now recorded 807,023 COVID-19 deaths, according to the Coronavirus Resource Center at Johns Hopkins University.

Vaccinations

As of Monday, 87.1% of all Connecticut residents and 95% of those 12 and older had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, while 74.1% of all residents and 83.3% of those 12 and older were fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

Additionally, about 37.2% of fully vaccinated Connecticut residents 18 or older have received a booster dose.

The CDC warns that booster shots are sometimes misclassified as first doses, likely inflating the reported number of first-dose coverage and understating the true number of people who have received boosters.

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

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting