Positive COVID cases rise, test rate dips


By Paul Hughes, Republican-American

MANCHESTER — State health officials reported Thursday another 416 diagnostic tests came back positive for COVID-19 as the viral outbreak resurges in Connecticut.

The positive test rate dipped down from a three-month high of 3% a day earlier to 2.6% based on the 15,846 new test results that the Department of Public Health reported Thursday.

“We’re seeing increasing spread as we have been expecting and predicting that there would be a resurgence of COVID spread in the fall. So, we are not surprised, and we are prepared,” said Dr. Deidre S. Gifford, the acting DPH commissioner.

She said the state government has stockpiled personal protective equipment, added testing capacity, and built up a contact tracing system to identify people who have been exposed to the coronavirus.

Gifford joined Gov. Ned Lamont in Manchester on Wednesday to announce the state is distributing federally funded grants to local health districts and departments to help pay for testing, contract tracing and other expenses.

“We’re asking local health departments to do more and more,” Lamont said.

Gifford, an epidemiologist, said the rising infection rate underscores the need for continued vigilance and personal adherence to public health precautions, including wearing masks, observing social distancing and limiting gatherings beyond immediate households.

“We do need individuals to take a second look at the mask wearing, and the distancing, and the social gatherings. A lot of this hinges on how each one of us in our day-to-day lives follows those recommendations,” she said “The disease is spread from person to person, so when you are ever in close proximity with somebody you don’t live with you need to be wearing the mask and limit those contacts.”

Gifford said Connecticut continues to see localized outbreaks that are being attributed largely to seemingly safe and small informal gatherings with family, friends and co-workers.

There have been slightly more than 10,900 new cases of COVID-19 reported since the first day of fall on Sept. 22. The case count increased from 53,969 to 64,871 through Wednesday, a 20% upsurge in infections.

There have been 21,898 cases reported in Fairfield County where the coronavirus first surfaced in March. The case counts have reached 16,795 in Hartford County and 15,876 in New Haven County.

The five other counties have recorded a combined 9,062 cases between them.

There have been 3,329 cases in New London County where there has been a recent surge in infections. The number of cases there has increased 85% from 1,803 on the first day of fall. This was the largest percentage increase in the eight counties.

The DPH reported a net decline of four patients hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 to 213 statewide. Hospitalizations had remained below 200 since mid-June until earlier this week.

Another eight coronavirus-associated deaths were reported since Tuesday. There now have been 4,567 deaths since the first fatality in the outbreak was reported in mid-March.

More than 90% of the deaths have involved people age 60 and older. There have been 563 deaths in the 60-69 age group, 1,000 deaths in the 70-79 age group, and 2,726 in the 80-and-above group.

Locally, the Naugatuck Valley Health District Wednesday reported four new cases in Naugatuck and none Beacon Falls from Tuesday. There have been 501 cases in Naugatuck and 66 in Beacon Falls since March.

Overall, the health district reported 13 new cases since Tuesday in its jurisdiction, which also includes Ansonia, Derby, Seymour and Shelton. The new cases brought the total in the six municipalities to 2,036 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.

Elio Gugliotti contributed to this report.