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Daily coronavirus updates: Connecticut appears to be past COVID-19 peak, expert says, as hospitalizations and cases slowly drop

Hartford Courant 1/14/2022 Alex Putterman, Hartford Courant
Hartford, Ct. - 01/06/2022 - Calling them "Incredibly intelligent and mature kids who know that this is the right thing to do. Not just to protect yourselves, but to protect your loved ones and those around you," Dr. Ulysses Wu talks with a group of area teens before they received a COVID-19 vaccine booster this morning at Hartford Hospital. Photograph by Mark Mirko | mmirko@courant.com © Mark Mirko/Hartford Courant/TNS Hartford, Ct. - 01/06/2022 - Calling them "Incredibly intelligent and mature kids who know that this is the right thing to do. Not just to protect yourselves, but to protect your loved ones and those around you," Dr. Ulysses Wu talks with a group of area teens before they received a COVID-19 vaccine booster this morning at Hartford Hospital. Photograph by Mark Mirko | mmirko@courant.com

Connecticut may have finally passed the worst of the omicron variant outbreak late this week, as hospitalizations and the overall caseload continue to decline.

Dr. Ulysses Wu, chief epidemiologist at Hartford HealthCare, pointed Friday to recent dips in Connecticut’s positivity rate, its rate of new cases, its number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19, its number of patients in intensive care and on ventilators, and its daily hospital admissions.

“Looking at all those numbers, if they hold true and they all stay down, we are now on the downside of the rollercoaster at this point,” Wu said.

The nearly two-year-old pandemic has devastated Connecticut, with 9,442 deaths and more than 600,000 confirmed and probable cases. Even still, the state has nearly 2,000 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, not far off the record level established in spring 2020.

Wu and other experts had previously predicted that COVID-19 cases would peak in mid-January but that hospitalizations would continue to rise somewhat longer. Pedro Mendes, a computational biologist at UConn Health, said Friday that his models still project hospitalizations to peak on Jan. 17.

In recent days, however, the state’s numbers have leveled off and even begun to reverse direction. On Friday, the state reported a positivity below 20% for the first time in several weeks, as well as a slight dip in hospitalizations for the second straight day. While cases and hospitalizations remain at extremely high levels, the trend line seems promising for the first time in months.

In some places where the omicron variant has spread rapidly, including South Africa and the United Kingdom, cases have declined quickly after reaching a peak. In other places, including New York City, metrics have leveled off for a period before eventually falling.

Wu cautioned that Connecticut’s encouraging trends are not guaranteed to continue and that the state’s progress remains fragile.

“There is a big ‘if,’” he said. “And that is if these numbers continue to hold.”

Cases and positivity rate

Connecticut on Friday reported 8,783 new COVID-19 cases out of 45,398 tests, for a daily positivity rate of 19.4%. The state’s seven-day positivity rate now stands at 22.2%, down from 23.6% earlier this week.


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Connecticut has now averaged 9,123 daily COVID-19 cases over the past week, also down slightly from earlier this week. Unvaccinated residents have been about three times as likely to test positive in recent weeks as vaccinated residents, according to state numbers.

Still, all eight Connecticut counties — along with nearly the entire rest of the country — are 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 Friday, Connecticut had 1,895 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, down 22 from Thursday and down 44 from earlier this week.

Hospital officials say some of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 were admitted for non-coronavirus reasons before testing positive upon arrival but that a majority have significant COVID-19 symptoms.

According to the state, 66.2% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. Hospital officials say the rate is significantly higher when considering only patients with severe symptoms.

Deaths

Connecticut reports COVID-19 deaths on Thursdays. This week, the state reported 161 deaths, bringing its total during the pandemic to 9,442.

As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have surged in Connecticut over recent weeks, deaths have risen but still remain far below the levels recorded last winter. Unvaccinated people in Connecticut have been about 19 times as likely to die from COVID-19 in recent weeks as those who are vaccinated, according to state numbers.

The United States has now recorded 847,105 COVID-19 deaths, according to the Coronavirus Resource Center at Johns Hopkins University.

Vaccinations

As of Friday, 90.6% of all Connecticut residents and 95% of those 12 and older had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, while 75.5% of all residents and 84.2% of those 12 and older were fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

Additionally, about 47.1% 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.

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