COVID-19 cases surge
With COVID-19 cases climbing into the new year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has ranked Litchfield County in the “high” category for community transmission along with five other Connecticut counties.
As of Jan. 6, Hartford, Windham, Fairfield, Middlesex and New Haven counties were also listed in the “High/Orange” category of the CDC’s color-coded community levels map.
The COVID-19 community levels map, which was launched In early 2022, informs CDC recommendations on prevention measures, such as masking and testing.
This approach, according to state officials, focuses on preventing hospitals and health care systems from being overwhelmed and directing prevention efforts toward protecting people at high risk for severe illness.
In recent weeks the virus has accelerated. As of Jan. 5, Connecticut’s COVID-19 positivity rate hit 17.36%, compared to 15.56% a week earlier, according to Gov. Ned Lamont’s weekly updates on the state’s coronavirus response efforts.
Hospitalizations jumped from 714 to 761 during the same seven-day period, and deaths increased by 33.
The case positivity rate has nearly doubled since Thanksgiving, when it hovered around 8%, a cause for concern for state and local health officials.
Cumulative figures for Litchfield County reveal that as of Jan. 5, 34,539 confirmed, and 6,111 probable.
COVID-19 cases were reported. During the same period, 428 deaths related to COVID-19 were confirmed, and 76 probable.
“We are now witnessing the long-anticipated winter COVID-19 surge,” Commissioner Manisha Juthani of the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) said in announcing the state’s updated county transmission levels on Dec. 30.
To protect vulnerable residents and preserve capacity in the state’s health care system, Juthani advised people living in the high transmission category to wear a mask indoors in public, stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and get tested if showing symptoms.
State health officials also warn that additional precautions may be needed for residents who are at high risk for severe illness.
DPH has reported that as of Dec. 7, 308,226 cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated persons in Connecticut have been identified. Those cases, according to health officials, account for 10.18% of the nearly 2.8 million Connecticut residents who are fully vaccinated.
The Omicron variant continues to be the most prevalent, accounting for 29,499 cases, followed by Delta at 17,235 cases.
“As we approach the three-year mark of this pandemic, we have many more ways to deal effectively with COVID-19,” Juthani noted the days leading up to 2023, including vaccines and updated boosters,
Test to Treat locations, mobile van clinics and a variety of self-test kits.
Juthani added that the federal government has now made four free self-test kits available per household, which can be ordered by visiting www.covid.org/tests.
The health commissioner also noted that Connecticut currently has more than 40 Test to Treat sites, which are located at pharmacies and urgent care centers throughout the state.
Resources for testing and treating COVID-19 are available in the DPH toolbox atwww.ct.gov/coronavirus.
For COVID-19 treatments to work, Juthani advised that they must be started early, within five days of when symptoms start.
“Everyone age 65 and older should be treated for COVID. If you are 50 and older with underlying medical conditions, particularly if you are unvaccinated, treatment for COVID can reduce the risk of hospitalization or death.”
According to DPH, for those who test positive for COVID-19, oral therapeutics such as Paxlovid may be recommended by a provider who can prescribe these oral antiviral pills. Patients can fill a prescription at most retail pharmacies across the state.
“Therapeutics can be used to prevent or treat eligible non-hospitalized patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and have mild to moderate symptoms,” said the state health commissioner, who noted that heading into 2023, “We are in a far better place with this pandemic than we were in 2020.”