State issues alert as COVID case rate increases


By Paul Hughes, Republican-American

State officials issued a public health alert Saturday as the average daily case rate for COVID-19 increased statewide to 25 cases per 100,000 residents over the last two weeks.

All residents are being advised to continue wearing masks, practice social distancing and observe other public health precautions against the spread of COVID-19. People also are being encouraged to get vaccinated.

State health officials on Saturday reported more than 90% of the state’s population live in a red zone town or city with at least 15 cases per 100,000. The red classification is the highest alert in the state’s color-coded warning system.

The towns with the highest case rates are in the Naugatuck Valley area.

The small city of Derby leads the state with 48.5 cases per 100,000 residents. Waterbury has the state’s second-highest rate of 43 cases per 100,000, and the neighboring town of Watertown is a close third with 42.9 cases per 100,000.

Of the state’s eight counties, the highest case rate is New Haven County at 31.8 per 100,000 population.

The state Department of Public Health issued the statewide alert Saturday after COVID-19 cases have risen across the state over the last two weeks.

In that time, the number of the state’s 169 towns and cities on red alert status for having 15 or more COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents increased from 104 to 132 on Thursday.

It was one week Friday since Gov. Ned Lamont lifted capacity limits on restaurants and other businesses and relaxed some other coronavirus-related restrictions. The public health alert Saturday announced no changes.

Officials also confirmed previous estimates that 40% of the new cases being reported are the more highly contagious B.1.1.7 variant of the coronavirus that first was detected in the United Kingdom.

There were 379 B 1.1.7 cases identified the latest weekly report from Thursday.

Overall, there were 305,210 reported cases of COVID-19 going into the weekend. There have been 115,090 cases since the first couple of B.1.1.7 cases were reported in early January.

Health department officials also reported COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased over the last week. There were 456 patients hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Saturday. Hospitals in New Haven County had the highest patient count of 195.