In the view of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Manisha Juthani, Connecticut’s recent COVID-19 surge has been driven by “a perfect storm” of factors.
There’s a seasonal affect, with viral respiratory infections typically increasing in winter. There’s waning vaccine immunity that leaves fully vaccinated people more vulnerable than they were earlier this year. And there’s the inevitable increase in indoor socializing that comes with the holiday season.
The result is what Connecticut is currently experiencing: a level of COVID-19 cases the state hadn’t seen in nearly a year and a rapid increase in the number of patients hospitalized with the disease.
This week, Juthani urged Connecticut residents to wear masks indoors, even as the state declines to require them.
“If you are indoors in public spaces, please wear a mask. We know that masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Juthani, an infectious disease specialist. “We have so many tools in front of us that we did not have a year ago in the form of the vaccine and boosters. But we still need to do a better job in protecting ourselves, our loved ones and our communities.”
Cases and positivity rate
Connecticut reported 789 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday out of 15,841 tests, for a daily positivity rate of 4.98% — lower than the state has recorded in recent days but still much higher than at most other times this year. The state’s seven-day positivity rate now stands at 6.11%, about even with Tuesday, when it reached its highest level since January.
The state has averaged nearly 1,526 daily COVID-19 cases over the past week, more than five times where its average stood just a month ago.
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.
As of Wednesday, Connecticut has 575 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, up 50 from Tuesday and the most at a time since Feb. 17. Hospitalizations have now increased 180% over the past month.
According to the state, 76.9% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. Hospital officials say the rate is even higher when looking specifically at people with severe symptoms.
Connecticut reports COVID-19 deaths on Thursdays. Last week, the state recorded 44 deaths, bringing its total during the pandemic to 8,909.
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 792,280 deaths related to COVID-19, according to the Coronavirus Resource Center at Johns Hopkins University.
As of Wednesday, 85.3% of all Connecticut residents and 95.4% of those 12 and older had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, while 73% of all residents and 82.9% of those 12 and older were fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
Additionally, about 30% 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.