Connecticut currently has the lowest average Covid-19 cases in the country, Gov. Ned Lamont said at a press conference Thursday, though he stressed continued caution with the virus as we continue to see around 600 new cases a day.
In the first coronavirus news conference the governor has held in weeks, he touted the state’s high vaccination rate as one reason for the success compared to other states, but warned that they were still watching the numbers carefully, and urged caution going into fall and winter.
“It is the beginning of our flu season, let’s be careful,” he said, pointing out that while Connecticut has one of the highest adult vaccination rates in the country there are still 680,000 people eligible for the vaccine who are not fully vaccinated, and 460,000 children who are not eligible for the vaccine yet.
Since the governor’s last briefing, Dr. Manisha Juthani from the Yale School of Medicine took over as commissioner of the Connecticut Depart of Public Health. Juthani replaced acting commissioner Dr. Deidre Gifford, who remains a senior advisor to the governor for health and human services.
The winter months are when respiratory viruses tend to circulate more, but Juthani said the situation looked promising.
“As we get children eligible for vaccinations as well there is the possibility of things looking better and better. But, I think without vaccinating people and as many people in our state as we can we run the risk of Covid-19 surging its ugly head again. So, I am cautiously optimistic,” she said.
LATEST COVID-19 NUMBERS IN CONNECTICUT
On Thursday, the state’s Covid-19 test positivity rate came in at 2.28%, with 591 new cases reported out of 25,897 tests conducted. The governor said the seven-day average positivity rate is around 2.7%, which is trending down compared to a month ago, when it was closer to 3.5%.
On Thursday there were 282 people hospitalized with the virus, up 13 from the day before. Lamont noted that what appears to have been the height of the delta wave, there were around 391 hospitalizations, compared to 1,300 in the last wave eight months ago, and over 2,000 when the virus first hit the country and the state.
COVID-19 BOOSTER SHOTS
The FDA on Wednesday authorized booster shots for certain groups who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The state is awaiting CDC approval on those boosters, then will begin administering those shots. There are over 800 sites ready, the governor said, and appointments and walk-ups will be available. The booster shots will be administered in nursing homes immediately after the CDC sign-off.
Lamont said the state has plenty of vaccine for those over 65 and those who are immunocompromised to self-report that they qualify for the booster.
“People can make those appointments and start going out to do that, those who are 65 and older. People have to remember that they already have immunity. This isn’t going to from zero immunity and the mad rush that we had back in the spring,” said Juthani.
Federal officials have not issued guidance for boosters for those who received Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines yet. That guidance is
COVID-19 VACCINES FOR KIDS 5-11
Pfizer had said data shows its Covid-19 vaccine is safe for children 5 to 11 years old, and expressed intentions to apply for emergency use authorization. The state is making preparations for that and anticipates that the vaccine may be available for that age group by late October.
EXECUTIVE ORDERS AND EMERGENCY POWERS
The governor has asked the legislature to extend his emergency executive powers through February, and on Thursday he laid out which orders he feels should continue to protect against the virus.
The governor said he is most focused on vaccination access, the vaccine mandates for state employees and educators, indoor mask requirements at high-risk facilities, temporary staffing support for nursing homes, maximizing the use of Unite CT prior to eviction to protect renters, and flexibility to respond quickly to new Covid-19 related challenges as they arise.
On Executive Orders:
🔻We’ve narrowed them down from a few hundred to less than 10, all targeted at keeping people safe from the virus.
🏠We have money to keep tenants in their rentals and landlords solvent through UniteCT. I see this is a public health issue. pic.twitter.com/qjv7CUIFwz
— Governor Ned Lamont (@GovNedLamont) September 23, 2021