Hartford HealthCare: CT reopening no time to relax social distancing, state could see 4,000 Coronavirus-related deaths by early June


HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — In a daily Hartford Healthcare COVID-19 media briefing Tuesday, Dr. Ajay Kumar Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer for Hartford Healthcare said Connecticut will not be like other states with coronavirus cases trending downwards nicely.

In the update, Dr. Kumar said one way they’ve been able to look ahead is with their COVID Analytics website model done with MIT. According to the model, Connecticut will continue to plateau on the number of cases throughout the summer and could see up to 4,000 deaths by June. That number could rise to 7,000, he said.

Health officials stress that wearing masks, social distancing, and widespread testing has to be a priority for Connecticut in order to not suffer a setback.

Hartford Healthcare is rolling out widespread testing and training, and many more contact tracers who will work to identify many cases early on.

RELATED: Experts urge caution as Connecticut nears May 20 reopening

With Connecticut leaders just days away from reopening parts of the state, experts with Hartford HealthCare want to remind people that they still need to practice social distancing.

Dr. Kumar said, “Early reopening or not paying attention to social-distancing, it’s a significant risk for our community to continue to see a significant number of active cases as we go forward this Summer.”

Experts said if we stop, the state — and other parts of the country — could see a second wave of COVID-19 in the fall.

“If you relax the social distancing the virus travels,” said Dr. Kumar, “It’s still as lethal as it was in February or March or April. Our most vulnerable population, such as elderly and individuals with chronic medical diseases, are the ones who are going to get the brunt of it.”

RELATED:The second virus wave: How bad will it be as lockdowns ease?

He said people need to also wear masks in public.

“These things are going to be critical for us to reduce the amount of suffering we’re going to have in the community,” he explained to News 8.

Nursing homes have proven to hardly impacted by the virus — accounting for more than half of the state’s coronavirus related-deaths.

Kumar said they now have a “SWAT team” like approach to outbreaks.

“Understanding who might have been exposed, isolating them as quickly as possible, so we need to be very aggressive in our contact tracing and responding to that part here,” he said.

Kumar said if a second wave happens, Hartford HealthCare will have enough space, manpower and PPE to handle it.

“Our healthcare system will be ready for that if it comes,” he said. “I hope it doesn’t; I hope the social distancing measures prevail. I hope the therapeutics prevail, but at the same time, there’s a real risk for that.”

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