By Paul Hughes, Republican-American
HARTFORD — Gov. Ned Lamont continued to say Thursday that he has no plans to lock down the state as the number of cities and towns on the highest COVID-19 alert status grew to 145.
The number of “red alert” municipalities has grown more than tenfold from an initial 11 communities since the state’s color-coded rating system was rolled out in mid-October because of the rising infection rates. There are 169 cities and towns.
“We’ve have a bit of a fire on our hands,” Lamont said during a virtual news briefing.
There were an additional 2,353 new cases of COVID-19 reported Thursday out of 36,339 tests received through Wednesday night. The daily positive test rate was 6.8% based on the positive molecular and antigen tests reported in the previous 24 hours.
The case count topped 2,000 for a third time since the single-day high of 2,746 cases was recorded last Thursday. The percentage of positive tests on a seven-day rolling average was 5.8%.
State health officials reported 24 more patients were hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 since Wednesday to bring the statewide total to 840. This was 500 more hospitalizations than were reported on Nov. 1.
The death rate also continued to increase. There were 21 more coronavirus-linked deaths reported since Wednesday. The death toll climbed to 4,805 lives.
The latest weekly report Thursday showed there were 39 more deaths of nursing home patients. There have been 3,018 deaths recorded in nursing homes, or slightly more than 60% of all fatalities.
Day-to-day changes in tests, cases and deaths reflect newly reported tests, cases and deaths that can date back several days to a week.
THE NAUGATUCK VALLEY HEALTH DISTRICT reported Thursday there have been 726 cases in Naugatuck and 101 in Beacon Falls since March. The number of cases in Naugatuck increased by 19 from Wednesday, while Beacon Falls had one more case.
The health district announced a 74-year-old man from Naugatuck, who lived in a long-term care facility, died from coronavirus, bringing the total number of coronavirus-associated deaths in Naugatuck to 42.
There have been no coronavirus-associated deaths in Beacon Falls, according to health officials.
The Chesprocott Health District reported there have been 208 cases in Prospect as of Nov. 13—the district’s latest update — since the outbreak started in Connecticut. There have been no reported deaths from the coronavirus in Prospect, according to health officials.
LAMONT RULED OUT returning to the partial economic shutdown that he ordered in the spring during the initial wave of the COVID-19 pandemic despite the statewide flare-up.
“We dropped the boom. We had an outbreak that was raging. We did everything we could. Now, I think we have a more refined response that allows us to deal with COVID in a serious way,” he said.
Earlier this month, the Lamont administration partially pulled back from the looser reopening rules that had taken effect Oct. 8, including limiting private gatherings to 10 people, rolling back the limit on indoor dining to 50% of allowed seating capacity, and setting a 10 p.m. closing time for restaurants that serve alcohol.
Going into the holiday shopping season, Lamont said he believes retail establishments can remain safely open. In the spring, he ordered all but essential retailers to close, and he also directed indoor shopping malls to close
“We do believe retail can be done safely,” he said.
Lamont left open the possibility of revisiting reopening rules for certain businesses.
He also urged people to abide by the 10-person for Thanksgiving celebrations next Thursday.
“Look, my strong recommendation is if you’re having Thanksgiving do it with just your immediate family members,” he said.
THE GOVERNOR ALSO ANNOUNCED a moratorium on all youth sports in the state until at least Jan. 19, including club sports.
The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference earlier this week postponed the start of the high school winter sports season to that date
Lamont said the temporary state ban on youth sports will go into effect on Monday. He said college and professional sports teams are exempted.
Elio Gugliotti contributed to this report.