Amid 2nd Wave of Covid-19, Good News is No Influenza, Fears of Vaccine Are on the Wane

In a press briefing via Zoom on Wednesday, Yale New Haven Health System, CEO Marna Borgstrom and Dr. Tom Balcezak, chief medical officer, said Connecticut was in the midst of the second wave of Covid-19, but they noted it was predicted early in the summer.

“At our peak last spring, we had over 800 patients in the health system on a single day, and that really overwhelmed our caregivers,” Borgstrom said. “Today we’re down to 332 in-patients, 76 are in ICUs and 45 are ventilated. There are still some very sick patients.”

Breakdown of 332 Covid-19 patients across the Yale New Haven Health System:

• 160 at Yale New Haven Hospital

• 87 at Bridgeport

• 30 at Lawrence + Memorial in New London

• 9 at Westerly Hospital, RI

• 36 at Greenwich Hospital

To date the System has discharged more than 7,100 people who were hospitalized with Covid-19, and sadly there have been 858 deaths across the System.

Dr. Tom Balcezak, chief medical officer of the System said unlike the first wave of Covid, the current wave has a smaller total number, and is spread out in a flatter way, indicating efforts to slow the spread of the virus were working.

“One bright spot is likely because of our efforts around masking and hand hygiene across our communities, we have seen essentially no influenza across any of our institutions.”

Dr. Tom Balcezak, chief medical officer at Yale New Haven Health System

Also Balcezak said this week the System began giving the second of two doses of the Pfizer vaccine to staff, and so far 280 people had received both doses.

“I had the privilege of vaccinating a number of our medical staff, and it’s encouraging to see the excitement, enthusiasm and emotions that have run so high…It really represents a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Balcezak spoke about the variant of Covid-19 that originated in Britain, noting it is already as close as New York.

He said new variant was thought to be more infectious, but no more lethal.

He said it represented a risk because the infectiousness of a virus increases, and it is possible to increase its spread and create a logarithmic growth in the number of cases.

Also, Balcezak said the variant gave more reason for people to continue to wear masks, social distance and practice hand hygiene, in addition to vaccinating as many people as possible.

As for Covid-19 vaccinations in the Yale New Haven Health System, Balcezak said there were no leftover doses at the end of the day.

Vaccine Distribution System

“We’ve agreed from the beginning that we need to trust that we are going to get a continued allocation through the months of December through the spring, and we’ll not hold any doses back,” Balcezak said, adding that the plan was to get the doses into the arms of our citizens as fast possible.

Balcezak said Connecticut was not getting as many doses as it would like.

This week the Yale New Haven Health System received about 6,000 total doses.

“We’d like to see more like 10-12,000 total doses,” he said. “We have been vaccinating about 1,000 people per day within our system. We have the capacity to do more.”

He said the goal at Yale New Haven Health System was to use up all the doses right up to the moment they receive the next allocation.

As for resistance to the vaccine, Balcezak said within the system, there were “pockets of individuals” waiting to see how others fare after receiving the vaccine.

About 33,000 employees in the system had been invited to get the vaccine and about 17,000+ had scheduled themselves for the vaccine to date.

Based on informal surveys of why people were reluctant to get the vaccine, Balcezak said they were debunking reasons for resistance, including, for example, that the vaccine would effect fertility.

“The truth about this vaccine is that it is safe, it is effective, there is science behind it, and it is the best way you can protect yourself against Covid-19, a disease that is deadly, not only for you, but that you have the potential to spread to other people.”

“I’m starting to hear a lot of initial concern is starting to break down and I think we’re getting to a tipping point.”

Dr. Tom Balcezak, chief medical officer, Yale New Haven Health System

As for a surge following the Christmas and New Year’s travel, Balcezak said it was too early, but they were watching waste water data from municipalities to look at the amount of virus in wastewater and predict in 5-7 days the number of cases.

He said it might take another 4-5 days to see what will happen.

Also on Wednesday, in his weekly Zoom news conference, Greenwich First Selectman Fred Camillo shared Covid-19 numbers in Greenwich as of Jan 5:

• 2,665 cases of Covid-19 (increase of 233)

• 235 active cases (increase of 70)

• 73 deaths to date (6 new deaths)

Camillo said that last Saturday at Greenwich Point there were 4,762 visitors and a total of 2,700 cars and 600 cars without Greenwich ID who were turned around.

He said there will be people manning the gate house until at least the end of January. Typically in winter time, non residents are allowed to visit Tod’s Point.