WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The state’s COVID-19 positivity rate has hit its highest level since the spring, Governor Ned Lamont announced Thursday. This as vaccine rollout plans are in full swing.

In a press conference Thursday, the governor announced the state’s positivity rate had reached 7.13%, the highest it’s been since the pandemic began.

Thursday’s report also included 4,700 new cases reported since Wednesday, 20 more virus-related deaths, and 11 fewer virus-related hospitalizations. It’s the first time in month hospitalization numbers have decreased.

But it’s the vaccine that everyone is talking about.

The governor said within a week the Pfizer vaccine will be presented for FDA approval, which will take about 48 hours.

That means, a week from Monday the vaccine will be in Connecticut and ready to be injected into the arms of frontline workers.

Moderna not far behind that. The company said by Dec. 21 it should have about 63,000 doses.

Between Moderna and Pfizer, you’re looking at about 100,000 doses for about 50,000 people –two doses required for each person.

The governor laid out a timeline for distribution:

  • Phase 1a (to begin within the next couple of weeks) will include healthcare workers, nursing home residents and medical first responders.
  • Phase 1b (mid-January to late May) will include critical workforce, other congregate settings, adults 65 and up and anyone considered “high-risk” under age 65.
  • Phase 2 (early June) will include anyone under 18-years-old, remaining residents over 18-years-old.

And it looks like Walgreens and CVS will be ground zero for distribution to the general public.

The hope is to have everyone vaccinated by June 2021.

That is subject to change, though.

News 8 heard Thursday about Pfizer having a flaw in the supply chain, so it looks like they will only be shipping half of the vaccine doses they initially planned for this year due to an issue with the raw materials used to make it.

Connecticut is expected to get 31,000 doses one week from Monday, if all goes well.

“The supply chain hiccup with Pfizer makes you think there are a lot of moving pieces even before the vaccine gets to Connecticut,” Lamont said.

When News 8 inquired about any reported flaws, Pfizer referred staff to a statement that went public in early November:

Based on current projections we expect to produce globally up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.

There are several factors that have impacted the number of doses estimated to be available in 2020. For one, scaling up a vaccine at this pace is unprecedented, and we have made significant progress as we have moved forwards in the unknown. Additionally, the scale-up of the raw material supply chain took longer than expected. And it is important to highlight that the outcome of the clinical trial was somewhat later than the initial projection, requiring us to focus additional efforts on clinical trial production. 

Please note that modifications to our full-scale production lines in the U.S. and Europe are now complete and finished doses are being made at a rapid pace. We are confident in our ability to supply at a pace of approximately 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021.    

– Pfizer Inc.

Meanwhile, will the frontline workers take it when it arrives?

“We did a survey – and I’m sure the other health care systems have as well – at Trinity Health of New England,” said Dr. Reginald Eadie of Trinity Health of New England. “Interestingly enough our response rate was very high, about 40%. Surveyed about 13,000 employees, most of them are nurses, most of them are 55+, over 60% said they would take the vaccine as soon as it’s available.”

The state’s COVID Task Force has also been out in the Black and brown community, working to educate those communities about the vaccines. Even so, they recognize they still have a long way to go to gain their trust.

Payge and Amara of West Hartford told News 8 Thursday, “I am going to wait for a couple of people to take it before me to see what their results are….And, frankly, as a Black person in America, I don’t trust the medical system at all. I have zero confidence in our medical system.”

So there are still a lot of “if’s.” If the educational process goes well and a lot of people take the vaccine, if the supply chain holds up, they’re planning for June as the last time people will be vaccinated, and then everyone should be vaccinated in Connecticut.

News 8 asked the commissioner of public health when can we get rid of the masks.

Commissioner Deirdre Gifford urged, “Don’t get rid of your masks, yet.…We are going to have to wait and see what percentage of the population takes the vaccine, and we will continue to learn about its efficacy.”

So while Pfizer came out first and Moderna next, and others are scheduled to come out in the near future, the task force said you can choose which one you want, but you have to stay with it through both injections.