Connecticut continues to record high levels of COVID-19 transmission, even as the omicron variant has not yet become dominant in the state.
Once again Friday, Connecticut reported a COVID-19 positivity rate above 6%, as hospitalizations reached their highest level in more than 10 months. Experts have attributed the state’s recent spike in coronavirus transmission to colder weather forcing activities indoors.
Now, as the omicron variant arrives, things might soon get worse. The new strain is believed to be considerably more contagious than the delta variant, having caused severe outbreaks in South Africa, across much of Europe and now in parts of the United States.
So far, Connecticut has reported 40 cases of the omicron variant, and the true total is surely higher. According to Yale School of Public Health researchers, the delta variant accounts for between 70% and 88% of recent cases in the areas of the state under their surveillance, with omicron making up the rest.
Nathan Grubaugh, whose lab conducts sequencing on COVID-19 cases in Connecticut, tweeted Thursday that omicron could be dominant in Connecticut “by the end of the month.”
Though some evidence suggests the omicron variant causes less severe illness than the delta variant, experts say its high level of infectiousness make it a severe threat nonetheless.
“What is good about the omicron [variant] is that it does not seem to be as deadly, per se, as the delta variant,” said Dr. Ramindra Walia, chief medical officer at UCFS Healthcare, during a Facebook discussion with Sen. Chris Murphy. “But its transmissibility is much faster than any other form of the virus that’s spreading.”
Dr. David Banach, an epidemiologist at UConn Health, said this week it’s too early to say exactly what the arrival of omicron will mean for Connecticut.
“We’re still trying to understand the impact of omicron on severe illness, hospitalizations, mortality,” Banach said.
Cases and positivity rate
Connecticut reported 1,443 new COVID-19 cases Friday out of 21,269 tests, for a daily positivity rate of 6.78%. The state’s seven-day positivity rate now stands at 5.69%, about even with Thursday and down slightly from last week.
Connecticut has now averaged 1,353 daily COVID-19 cases over the past seven days, also down slightly from last week. Unvaccinated residents have been about five times as likely to test positive in recent weeks as vaccinated residents, according to state numbers.
All eight Connecticut counties — as well as the rest of those in the Northeast region — are currently 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.
As of Tuesday, Connecticut has 736 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, up 26 from Thursday most at a time since Feb. 10. Coronavirus hospitalizations in Connecticut have now nearly quadrupled since the end of October.
According to the state, 76.5% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. Hospital officials say the rate is even higher when looking specifically at people with severe symptoms.
Connecticut reports COVID-19 deaths on Thursdays. This week, the state recorded 56 deaths, bringing its total during the pandemic to 9,002.
As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have surged in Connecticut over recent weeks, deaths have risen slightly but still remain far below the levels recorded last winter.
The United States has now recorded 805,076 deaths related to COVID-19, according Johns Hopkins.
As of Friday, 86.8% of all Connecticut residents and 95% of those 12 and older had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, while 74% of all residents and 83.2% of those 12 and older were fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
Additionally, about 35.8% 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 email@example.com .
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