Daily coronavirus updates: Weekly positivity rate at 2.7%. New DPH commissioner ‘cautiously optimistic’ about Connecticut’s trajectory

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As Connecticut reported mixed COVID-19 metrics Thursday — a slight decrease in its weekly positivity rate and a moderate increase in hospitalizations — Gov. Ned Lamont lauded the state’s low positivity rate but said that it remains critical to “err on the side of caution.”

In a press briefing Thursday afternoon, Lamont noted that Connecticut’s weekly positivity rate, at 2.7% on Thursday, had declined from where it was a month ago (3.5%) and had significantly dropped from where it was at the beginning of this year (7.5%), during a major surge of the pandemic.

“For me, the relative good news is, [with] each of these waves, the severity goes down a bit, and that’s in large part because of the vaccinations and the management we’ve had over the last year and a half,” he said.

Dr. Manisha Juthani, Connecticut’s new public health commissioner, said Thursday that she was “cautiously optimistic” about the state’s COVID-19 trajectory.

“We do seem to be reaching a place where we have plateaued and potentially going further down, which is really great news for Connecticut,” she said.

Despite Connecticut’s high vaccination rate and continued gains against COVID-19, he emphasized that continued caution is warranted, Lamont said.

While Connecticut’s average daily case count remains low in comparison to many other states, he noted that hundreds of residents test positive each day. As of Thursday, the state had averaged 638 cases over the past week.

Lamont is seeking to extend his emergency powers to Feb. 15, which would enable him to maintain Connecticut’s vaccination mandate for state employee and nursing home employees, its school mask mandate, its ability to provide free COVID-19 vaccines and other public health protocols.

“I do not want us to put out the ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner on the aircraft carrier,” he said, circling back to his own comments in May when he suspended daily COVID-19 briefings — and referencing former President George W. Bush’s infamously premature declaration in 2003 that U.S. military operations in Iraq had ended.

Juthani said that continued vaccinations will be essential in preventing a winter surge of COVID-19 — and warned that there may be a dangerous return of the flu in coming months, in part because lockdown measures that were in place last winter, limiting the spread of the flu, have now lifted.

“We’ve had no flu cases this year yet,” she said. “And last year we had such an exceedingly low number of cases of flu that it is possible we will see a resurgence of flu this year as well, which is why, as we’re headed into flu season, I really want to encourage people to get their flu shots.”

Case and positivity rate

Connecticut reported 591 COVID-19 cases Thursday, out of 25,897 tests administered, for a positivity rate of 2.3%. The state’s seven-day positivity rate now stands at 2.7%, a slight decrease from 2.8% Wednesday.

All eight Connecticut counties currently have “high” COVID-19 transmission as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


There are 282 people in Connecticut hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Thursday, an increase of 13 individuals since Wednesday. According to state data, 211 individuals — or 74.8% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 — are not fully vaccinated.


Connecticut on Thursday reported 36 COVID-19 deaths over the past week, bringing its total during the pandemic to 8,483.

The United States has now recorded 682,468 COVID-19 deaths, according to the Coronavirus Resource Center at Johns Hopkins University.


As of Thursday, 75.5% of all Connecticut residents and 86.6% of those 12 and older had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, while 68.1% of all residents and 78.1% of those 12 and older were fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

Eliza Fawcett can be reached at elfawcett@courant.com.

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