HARTFORD, Conn. (AP/WTNH) — Connecticut is experiencing a more rapid increase in COVID-19 cases than any other state, according to the most recent statistics.
The state has averaged 738 daily cases over the last week, which represents a 116% increase over two weeks earlier, the Hartford Courant reported. That’s higher than any other state for the same period.
Four of the five states with the highest recent increase in virus cases are in New England, the newspaper reported.
Although Connecticut started from a low rate of transmission and has fewer overall cases than many other states, health experts are urging caution as the holidays approach.
“We need to embrace normalcy at this point, but we need to be smart about it,” Dr. Ulysses Wu, an infectious disease specialist at Hartford HealthCare, told the newspaper. “Who are the people you are going to be hanging out with, how many people are going to be coming, and what is their vaccination status?”
“I do have to say that we do have to return to a sense of normality, that people are vaccinated and you should be able to see family, vaccinated family would be preferable because I think we do need to get back to that,” Wu said.
The state’s seven-day positivity rate of 3.07% is the highest since early September, and average daily cases are the highest since mid-September. According to state data, unvaccinated residents are four times more likely to test positive than those who are vaccinated and make up the vast majority of those hospitalized with serious symptoms.
“COVID is a heat-seeking germ that goes after the unvaccinated and now it’s going after the older folks who are already vaccinated eight or nine months ago,” said Governor Ned Lamont.
Connecticut reported 25 COVID-19 deaths last week, bringing the state’s total during the pandemic to 8,834. As of last week, 74% of all residents had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the state.
As people travel for Thanksgiving and the upcoming holidays, so will the virus, especially if people are hosting family from out of state.
“Right now, we are surrounded by states with a much higher infection rate and we know it’s the flu season, and we know people are beginning to travel,” Lamont said.
“There is really no risk-free way to celebrate the holidays, just short of staying inside your house with your own family,” said Dr. F. Perry Wilson.
Dr. Wilson says each family has to assess how much risk they are willing to take on for Thanksgiving and the following holidays. People who are older or immunocompromised need to be more careful.
“The number one thing that is going to protect a holiday party is vaccination, so if you have everyone at the party uniformly and fully vaccinated, you are in a relatively low-risk situation,” Dr. Wilson said.
Gov. Lamont, too, pushed for vaccinations and boosters at a press conference Monday afternoon.
“We are bringing it to schools and we are bringing it to nursing homes, obviously rail and air where a lot of people are going to be congregating,” the governor said. “I think the easier we make it for you to get that booster for your child to get that first vaccine, the better it is for everybody.”
Dr. Wilson says especially for the young children, having masks on at gatherings around the dinner table is very difficult. He recommends opening windows, even if it’s a little on the cool side, as ventilation will help with prevention.
This story corrects the percentage of Connecticut residents who have received at least one vaccine dose to 74%, not 82%.