State surpasses 300,000 COVID-19 cases


By Paul Hughes and Tracey O’Shaughnessy, Republican-American

HARTFORD — The number of reported cases of COVID-19 passed 300,000 barely 12 months after the first coronavirus infections were detected in Connecticut.

The 898 new cases that state health officials reported Tuesday brought the case count to 300,565 — approximately 8% of the state’s estimated population of almost 3.6 million people.

The pandemic milestone was passed 15 days after the first anniversary of the announcement that a 45-year-old Wilton man was the first state resident to contract COVID-19. Previously, state officials had announced the infections of two residents of New York who worked in Connecticut hospitals.

It took nearly eight months since that first Connecticut case was announced last March 8 to surpass 100,000 cases, and then roughly another month and half to double the running total on Jan. 6 amid a second state outbreak.

The surpassing of the 300,000-case threshold Tuesday comes as a more contagious and concerning strain of coronavirus is taking hold in Connecticut. There were 283 reported cases involving the B.1.1.7 variant that was first detected in the United Kingdom. An updated count will be released Thursday.

Dr. Justin Lundbye, chief medical officer for Waterbury Hospital, reported the number of COVID-19 patients admitted for treatment has increased over the last seven days.

He said the hospital had seen COVID-19 cases slowly dip down to the single digits earlier this month, but those numbers shot up into the high double digits in the last week.

Lundbye said the B.1.1.7 variant is likely a contributing factor. He also questioned if the relaxation Friday of coronavirus-related mandates could be another one. Gov. Ned Lamont lifted capacity limits on restaurants, retail stores and other businesses.

Dr. F. Perry Wilson, associate professor of medicine at the Yale School of Medicine, believes an uptick reported Tuesday in the state’s positive test rate to nearly 4.5% is a result of the new, more contagious UK variant taking hold in the state. Like Lundbye, he is also suspicious of the roll back.

“I think we’re seeing more B.1.1.7,” Wilson said. “A lot of it might be loosening of restrictions, although Connecticut has been very good about masking and the like. I think this is biology from the variant. We’re going to keep seeing B.1.1.7 in the population.”

State health officials Tuesday reported a net increase of 14 patients hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 to 403 statewide, including 176 patients in New Haven County, 104 in Fairfield County and 82 in Hartford County.

Another four reported deaths due to COVID-19 or complications of the viral disease brought the death toll to 7,845.

The state reported Tuesday there have been 2,976 cases in Naugatuck, 765 in Prospect and 483 in Beacon Falls since last March.

There have been 88 coronavirus-associated deaths in Naugatuck, six in Beacon Falls and four in Prospect.

Elio Gugliotti contributed to this report.