State’s hospitals keep pace with COVID surge

By Paul Hughes, Republican-American

HARTFORD — Hospital leaders in Connecticut say there are enough regular and intensive care unit beds available to keep up with rising COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state’s second outbreak.

While occupancy levels vary among hospitals, 73% of the state’s approximately 8,000 staffed hospital beds were occupied Tuesday, and 59% of the nearly 1,000 ICU beds were filled, said Jennifer Jackson, president and CEO of the Connecticut Hospital Association. She noted coronavirus patients occupy slightly less than 20% of the ICU beds.

With new admissions and discharges, state health officials Tuesday reported a net increase of 40 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 for 1,223 total statewide.

The number of cumulative hospitalizations is approaching 18,000 since the start of the outbreak in early March. The total was 11,700 on Oct. 1 as community spread started flaring up again.

Jackson said there have been approximately 17,500 hospitalizations and 13,500 patients discharged from state hospitals.

“Unfortunately, we have had 2,600 deaths in the hospital,” she said.

The number of hospital deaths represents roughly half of the reported coronavirus-linked deaths. The 18 additional deaths reported since Monday brought the total death toll to 5,242.

The daily test rate was pressing close to 9% in another sign the state’s second outbreak is continuing to intensify. Hospital officials are watching this metric closely because increases in the hospitalization rate generally follow upswings in infection rates, said Jeffrey Flaks, president and CEO of Hartford HealthCare, and Dr. John Murphy, president and CEO of Nuvance Health Care.

The two executives and Jackson participated in virtual news conference Tuesday with U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., on the challenges hospitals are facing as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations increase in the state.

The percentage of positive test results was nearly 8.7% on Monday based on the molecular and antigen tests that were reported in the previous 24 hours. This was the highest daily positivity rate since the 9.9% rate that was reported May 18.

There were 2,414 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday out of 27,918 tests reported, according to Tuesday’s summary. There now have been 138,258 cases recorded and more than 3.5 million tests done.

As of Tuesday, the state reported there have been 1,370 confirmed and probable cases and 44 coronavirus-associated deaths in Naugatuck since March.

There have been 185 confirmed and probable cases in Beacon Falls and two deaths, according to state data. The deaths are recent for the town. As of Dec. 3, the Naugatuck Valley Health District reported no COVID-related fatalities in Beacon Falls.

There have been 360 confirmed and probable cases and now coronavirus-associated deaths in Prospect, the state reported. Chesprocott Health District, which serves Cheshire, Prospect and Wolcott, reported that there were 44 news cases in Prospect the first week of December.

Elio Gugliotti contributed to this report.