HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The COVID-19 positivity rate in the state spiked Thursday to 6.1% – a level not seen since June – and Governor Ned Lamont says the data is cause for concern.
The state has seen 1,300 new positive cases since Wednesday, as well as 12 additional hospitalizations and five new deaths.
In a press conference Thursday, the governor said there is no silver lining to this data and he fears the steady progression we’ve seen may just be a harbinger of things to come.
“I look at it as the second wave,” he said.
Clearly the numbers in the state are cause for concern. The 6.1% positivity rate is the highest since June 1.
Even with the spikes across the state, Gov. Lamont says he will still let municipalities decide on their own whether or not to roll back to Phase 2. He says he’ll reassess next week, but he is giving a strong recommendation:
“Roll back and send a message. This fire is accelerating.”
A total of 30 towns and cities across the state have reached the Red Alert level, the highest on the COVID infection rate alert map. Another 53 towns and cities are in the orange zone.
The state is currently at Phase 3 reopening, but city and town leaders have the option to revert to more restrictive phases based on their municipality’s positivity rate.
Stamford, Bridgeport, and New Haven announced Thursday – following Windham’s announcement last week – that businesses would be reverting to Phase 2 immediately after a rise in virus cases across the state. On Friday, Norwalk also announced that the city would be reverting back to Phase 2.
Windham Town Manager Jim Rivers said of the rollback, “Businesses that are staring at a freight train going into winter with no outdoor seating I think they are hurting but they wish there was another solution but they do understand we’re trying to keep them open.”
News 8 asked the governor what number or metric would be the tipping point to roll the whole state back to Phase 2 restrictions. He said the data he’s watching is the hospitalizations.
“I think we’re getting close,” he said. “I’ve always said I didn’t have an absolute number in mind, but
I also worried about the pace. Let’s face it, if this [6.1%] is for real, and not am aberration and it looks like it’s part of a trend, this is something we gotta take seriously. Obviously when it comes to Phase 2, that’s one thing. We’re also talking to fellow governors about sports, restaurants, and everything else if this gets above six percent.”
The hospitalizations at Yale-New Haven Health system have gone up three and a half times over the last month and continue to climb.
Dr. Manisha Juthani of Yale Medicine said, “At least from my team we saw two this morning…As an infectious disease doctor, I was focusing on some of the other patients in the hospital that have infections, but we are preparing to open up more beds getting ready for COVID patients.”
Doctors say we don’t know what this virus can do in the winter months, but they have learned so much from the first wave in the spring. There’s a large stockpile of PPE, Connecticut is leading the United States in testing per capita, and they now have track-and-trace in place, which means they have a pretty good idea of where the virus is coming and where to shut down.
Rivers said, “We have found that most of the infections were not coming from schools; it was coming from more families and friends.”
And one ominous warning from doctors: they say they have not seen what this virus does in the wintertime, but they expect it to be a lot more viral during the colder months, and to prepare for a bumpy road.
Also Thursday, the state launched a COVID Dashboard that will allow parents to know how the virus is spreading in their community.
The data reported by superintendents will indicate all student and staff cases submitted for a school the previous week.