Storm throws off state’s vaccination timetable, but doesn’t hurt rollout

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By Paul Hughes, Republican-American

HARTFORD — The first big snowstorm of 2021 forced cancellations of COVID-19 vaccination clinics across the state, throwing off the state’s timetable for vaccine administration.

State officials had no precise count Monday but estimated more than 10,000 appointments were canceled due to the powerful nor’easter that also delayed an expected shipment of 98,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

Vaccination providers are now going to be working to reschedule and vaccinate every person who had an appointment canceled no later than Sunday, Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday.

The snow delays in vaccinations and vaccine shipments are not expected to slow down the state’s mass vaccination program near or long term, said Josh Geballe, the governor’s chief operating officer.

In other developments Monday, Lamont announced that state health officials identified eight more cases of a highly contagious variant of the coronavirus that was first identified in the United Kingdom

The additional cases that were reported over the week have brought the running total to 16 cases. The state’s overall case count is now approaching 254,000.

Lamont also announced that he is planning to extend the current 10 p.m. curfew for restaurants to 11 p.m., but capacity will remain at 50% of allowable indoor seating.

Scott Dolch, the executive director of the Connecticut Restaurant Association, welcomed the news, but he also urged Lamont end the curfew in the coming weeks. Lamont said it may be a while before he is ready to take that step.

In addition, the governor also announced that he is setting a new attendance limit of 50% of building capacity for houses of worship. He is dropping a numerical cap on attendees that previously applied if it was lower than the occupancy limit.

MORE THAN 425,000 DOSES of the currently available Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have been administered since mass vaccinations started in mid-December.

Lamont reported more than 111,000 doses were administered last week alone when state residents age 75 and older started receiving their first doses. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require two doses to be effective against the coronavirus.

In all, 86,285 second doses of two vaccines have been administered, and 338,859 first doses have been given out, according to the latest figures Monday.

Lamont said 45% of residents age 75 and older have received their first doses.

An interactive map that was introduced online Monday allows users to look up each town and city to see how many doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered for the entire population and residents 75 and older. It is available at portal.ct.gov/coronavirus/covid-19-data-tracker. The plan is to update the map weekly every Thursday.

In Naugatuck, about 31% of the 1,802 residents age 75 and older had received their first vaccine dose, and the rate was nearly 7% of its total population — 2,161 out of 31,108 people.

In Prospect, about 48% of the 639 residents age 75 and older had received their first vaccine dose, and about 10.4% of total population had received the first dose — 1,010 out of 9,702 people.

In Beacon Falls, nearly 80% of the town’s 290 residents age 75 and older had received their first vaccine dose, and the rate was about 10.6% of its total population — 659 out of 6,222 people.

SOME FAVORABLE TRENDS in the COVID-19 outbreak continued uninterrupted over the weekend despite Monday’s weather-related setbacks

Lamont reported hospitalizations continued on a nine-day decline with a net decrease of 73 patients hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 to 912 statewide, including 273 patients in New Haven County, 267 in Hartford County, and 223 in Fairfield County.

He also said the rolling seven-day average of positive tests had dipped below 4% for the first time in several months. The daily positivity rate reported Monday was nearly 3.9% based on 3,931 cases of COVID-19 out of 101,971 tests that were received between Friday and Sunday.

There now have been 253,054 reported cases and nearly 5.8 million molecular and antigen tests have been performed.

The death toll continued to rise. There were 73 more coronavirus-associated deaths reported Monday. There now have been 7,119 fatalities in the pandemic.

There have been 2,523 cases and 80 coronavirus-associated deaths in Naugatuck, 630 cases and two deaths in Prospect, and 396 cases and four deaths in Beacon Falls since last March.

Lamont noted the death rate is a lagging indicator behind the infection and hospitalization rates, but he said fatalities seem to be trending down.

“We’ve got a long way to go there,” he said.

Elio Gugliotti contributed to this article.