A First for Connecticut: Covid-19 Seven-day Death Total Hits Zero

By Dr. Stephanie Paulmeno, DNP, RN, NHA, CPH, CCM, CDP, Public Health Promotion Specialist

Connecticut sees it’s first-ever week marked by zero (0) COVID-19-associated deaths! This is a landmark occasion for all of us. COVID-19 emerged in the US in late 2019 and was declared to be a public health emergency in this country on 1-31-20 by Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services. On March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 to be a “public health emergency of international concern: a global pandemic; and the world as we knew it changed. Those changes have extended, morphed, and altered our lives on multiple occasions and in multiple ways over these last three years. For the first time since the Connecticut Department of Public Health has been tracking and recording COVID-19 deaths, the latest past-7-day total came in at zero on 4-20-23. The cases, death, hospitalizations and positivity rates are tallied and recorded in Connecticut every 7 days on Thursdays COVID-19 DPH Reports Library | Connecticut Data.

This accomplishment of our first consecutive 7-day stretch with no deaths due to COVID-19 is a definite tribute to our science, health, and public health workforces, but also to those who stepped up to the plate to do their part to keep themselves, their families, and others around them safe.

They got vaccinated and boosted, wore masks in indoor settings, stayed socially separated, and stayed home when they were ill or exposed to someone with COVID-19. These weren’t easy actions and lifestyle changes for young and old alike, and the efforts rocked our individual worlds. It took years for us to reach this zero-deaths-point, but along the way, Connecticut lost 12,302 beloved men, women, and children to the pandemic.

We didn’t have any COVID-19 vaccines at first, which contributed to the many and rapid losses of life early in the pandemic. We also had no effective treatments, medications, or proven protocols. Others died despite availing themselves of vaccine protection, once it was created and approved, due to their own underlying conditions, immune-compromising medications and treatments, and their advanced old age. All these conditions impaired a person’s ability to create a robust immunity and antibody response despite the vaccines. Others simply opted not to get vaccinated and to take their chances. Some were lucky and others not so much.

The critical review platform, NPR, used just-released data from the Brown School of Public Health to calculate by state how many preventable deaths occurred among the unvaccinated here in Connecticut as well as by state across the country. They refer to them as “excess deaths.” (NPR: This is how many lives could have been saved with COVID vaccinations in each state)

The calculations showed that in Connecticut, 1,962 of those COVID-associated deaths were preventable deaths. This is beyond sad; it’s tragic! Connecticut has fared comparatively well during the pandemic and had better than average initial vaccine rates, but imagine how much better our outcomes could have been if every eligible person got both vaccinated and boosted. We could have done much better than we did, and we still can. There remains a wide margin for improvement in both the primary vaccine series as well as in our vaccine booster rates across every age group in Connecticut. Some old variants are still circulating plus we have the new COVID-19 mutations still active in our communities, and still seeking a vulnerable host.

We’ve seen 1,291 new cases in Connecticut just since the end of March COVID-19 DPH Reports Library |Connecticut Data, and those are only the cases that we know about because the person lab-tested; it does not include the home tested. This virus in all its mutating forms will continue to mutate and circulate because that is what viruses do, but you and your families can still choose to get vaccinated and protected. This would be a wise course of action to consider if you or a family member is still unvaccinated, under-vaccinated, or unboosted; elderly, have underlying health conditions, or if you or they have a compromised immune system for any reason.

Here are Connecticut’s meager percentages of people protected with the mRNA bivalent booster. This vaccine was specifically engineered to build protection against both the newer OMICRON variants and the older versions of the COVID-19 viral mutations. They are all still circulating!

  • 55% of those 75+
  • 51% of those 65-74
  • 31% of those 55-64
  • 20% of those 45-54
  • 17% of those 35-44
  • 14% of those 25-34
  • 11% of those 15-24
  • 7% of those 5-14

Update: This article has been updated to reflect that the total number of lives lost in Connecticut is 12,302, not 1,067,713 as originally written. The total number of cases was 1,067,713.