By Paul Hughes, Republican-American
WINDSOR — The positive test rate for COVID-19 hit 3% for the first time since June based on daily testing numbers that were released Tuesday.
In addition, the number of hospitalized patients topped 200 for the first time since mid-June in another sign that the virus is resurging in Connecticut.
Gov. Ned Lamont reported the increases in the infection and hospitalization rates during a news conference in Windsor to announce a $50 million grant program for financially struggling small businesses and nonprofit organizations.
“We haven’t had 3% infection rate, 3% of all the people tested testing positive going back till June, and alongside of that we have 22 more people hospitalized,” he said. “So, that tells you it is going to take us a little bit longer for us to get through this, a little bit longer until the therapies and the vaccines are going to give us some security on the backside of COVID.”
Lamont also reported that Connecticut, New York and New Jersey will not be adopting new standards for a tri-state travel advisory for visitors from states and U.S. territories with high infection rates.
He outlined a plan Monday to revamp its benchmarks for determining when covered travelers will need to quarantine. Instead, he said Tuesday that the only change is that residents of the three states will not be subject to the regional quarantine requirements.
AN ADDITIONAL 454 COVID-19 CASES were reported out of 14,653 tests results that were received since Monday, equating to a positivity rate of 3%.
There now have been 64,455 cases reported since early March, and more than 2 million diagnostic tests have been performed, though this figure includes multiple tests of some patients and specimens.
State health officials also reported a net increase of 22 patients hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 between new admissions and discharges to 217 statewide. Total hospitalizations are nearing 12,000.
There were five more coronavirus-associated deaths recorded since Monday. This brought the death toll to 4,559. The first fatality was reported in mid-March.
Day-to-day changes reflect newly reported cases, deaths, and tests that occurred over the last several days to week. All data in the daily reports are preliminary, and statistics for previous dates will be updated as new reports are received and errors are corrected.
THE NAUGATUCK VALLEY HEALTH DISTRICT reported Tuesday two new cases in Naugatuck and one Beacon Falls, bringing the total number of cases since March to 497 in Naugatuck and 66 in Beacon Falls.
Overall, the health district reported 10 new cases since Monday in its jurisdiction, which also includes Ansonia, Derby, Seymour and Shelton. The new cases brought the total in the six municipalities to 2,023 since March.
The health district reported no additional coronavirus-associated deaths. There have been 41 coronavirus-associated deaths in Naugatuck and none in Beacon Falls, according to health officials. There have been 244 coronavirus-associated deaths overall in the district’s six towns.
The Chesprocott Health District’s weekly update reported Friday showed there have been 109 coronavirus cases in Prospect — an additional 11 cases since Oct. 9. There have been no coronavirus-associated deaths in Prospect, according to the health district.
Chesprocott also serves Cheshire and Wolcott. Overall, the health district reported Friday there have been 582 cases, an increase of 43 from the week before, in the three towns. There have been 33 coronavirus-related deaths in the towns, which didn’t change from the Oct. 9 report.
LAMONT SAID HE HAS NO PLANS to roll back looser coronavirus-related restrictions on businesses and gatherings that took effect on Oct. 8 because of the rising infection rate.
“I don’t think we’re going to have to be in a position where we’re talking about scaling back at this point, but obviously if things got up 5-7%, if we saw what is happening in places like North Dakota and Wisconsin and Nevada, we would take a second look,” he said.
Nevada, North Dakota and Wisconsin are included in the tri-state travel advisory based on their infection rates.
The threshold for the advisory will remain either a positive case rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents, or higher than a 10% test positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average.
Travelers to Connecticut from states that meet either seven-day measure will have to quarantine for 14 days unless they tested negative for COVID-19 within three days of traveling, or they test negative within that two-week time frame.
The governor on Monday advocated for adopting a combined threshold of more than 10 cases per 100,000 residents and a positivity rate of 5% or higher.
Lamont said he, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy agreed to exempt Connecticut, New York and New Jersey residents from the travel advisory.
“What we didn’t want to have happen is Connecticut is on quarantine, you can’t drive into New York, and New Jersey can’t drive into New York,” he said. “That didn’t make any sense at all, but rather than change the metrics overall, it made a lot more sense to say within our three states it is treated like one region, and we’ll be able to travel between each other.”
Lamont said he also plans to consult with Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Rhode Island Gov. Gina Riamondo about establishing such mutual arrangements on interstate travel.
The addition of Arizona and Maryland on Tuesday brought the COVID-19 watch list to 38 states, plus the territories of Puerto Rico and Guam.
To date, 51 individuals have been fined a total of $54,300 for violating the Connecticut travel advisory by failing to fill out a required travel form or remaining in the state for more than 24 hours without quarantining. The fines ranged from $100 to $2,000.
Lamont appealed to state residents to continue to follow state guidance and public health precautions, including wearing masks and social distancing.
“I know they are exhausted. I know we have been going through this for months. I know you wish this was over, and it will be over, and it will be over a lot of faster if you wear the mask and keep the distancing,” he said.
Elio Gugliotti contributed to this report.