Lamont Shares Update on Covid as Residents Prepare for Thanksgiving Travel and Gatherings

On Monday Governor Lamont held a press conference to give an update on Covid as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches and residents anticipate travel and gatherings.

Connecticut’s daily positivity rate was 3.5% on Monday, which was up quite a bit over the last month.

And while Connecticut’s 7-day average was 3.3, the highest since early September, it was the lowest in the region.

“If we’re at 21 infections per 100,000, New York and MA are about 50% more, Rhode Island is double, and Vermont is triple that. That’s a reminder we’re not an island.”

On a map of the US, Connecticut was “white” because it had a relatively low infection rate, but, Lamont said the the northeast and New England overall were getting “redder and redder.”

While Connecticut was “white” the northeast and New England were increasingly “red.” Nov 22, 2021

“What’s interesting about this chart is it’s a mirror image of where we were 90 days ago when the south, including Florida, Texas, Alabama and Georgia were on fire,” Lamontsaid.

Internationally, Lamont said Austria and Germany were having spikes in infection rates and were instituting lockdowns.

Israel, which allowed booster shots for everyone over the age of 12 after a flare up did “bend the curve in a dramatic way.”

The blue line shows CT Covid hospitalizations in 2020. The yellow line shows CT Covid hospitalizations in 2021. “While the vaccinations are very good at preventing infections, they’re extraordinarily good at keeping you out of the hospital and keeping you out of the morgue.” – Ned Lamont
Unvaccinated people are five times more likely to get Covid-19. The light blue is vaccinated; red is unvaccinated. “The unvaccinated are ten times more likely to go to the hospital and 15 times more likely to suffer a fatality.”– Ned Lamont
Connecticut ranks no. 1 in the nation, with 84% of residents fully vaccinated. CT ranks 9 with 18% of people eligible having had a booster. “

Lamont said per CT Dept of Health 84% of people 18+ were fully vaccinated, 94% of people 18+ had had at least one shot.

Vaccinations for Children, Masks in Schools
Lamont said over 56,000 children (20% of eligible children) age 5-11 have gotten their first vaccinations, with parental permission over the past three weeks. There are clinics at schools, federally qualified health centers, and at pharmacies, including CVS and Walgreens.

“We’re trying to make it as easy as possible, just like the boosters,” Lamont said. “If we get through Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons with the majority of 5-11 and 5-18 year olds vaccinated, and teachers having their boosters, we’ll find that maybe we can take a second look at masks. In the meantime, let’s err on the side of caution.”

Anticipating that many residents will travel for the holiday season, the State has set up vaccine clinics at 962 locations including Bradley Airport and both New Haven and Stamford train stations.

“We’re bringing it to schools. We’re bringing it to nursing homes. Obviously rail and air, where a lot of people are going to be congregating. The easier we make it for you to get that booster or for your child to get that first vaccination, the better for everybody.”

“We simplified the language – because remember the CDC had a complicated set of metrics, but the answer is really everybody should get the booster,” Lamont said. “Just walk up and take advantage of the vaccine.”

To find a convenient location, including a Dept of Public Health van or pharmacy, to arrange for a vaccine or booster, residents can visit Connecticut’s vaccine portal CT.Gov/covidvaccine.

Nursing Homes

Lamont said the state was making a special effort to bring booster clinics to the state’s nursing homes.

CT Dept of Health commissioner-designate Dr. Manisha Juthani said nursing homes and long term care facilities were organizing clinics with their existing pharmacy partners, but the sate was helping those with any issues.

“We are on target for 70% of longerm care facilities in CT having a booster clinic for patients and staff by Thanksgiving,” Dr. Juthani said. “The remaining are the ones we’re helping get done with a booster clinic by Dec 15. We’re very much on target. Many are already done. We’re on track to make sure this population is protected.”

Lamont said the numbers have ticket up since three months earlier, but the state is better prepared compared to a year ago.

“You’ve got vaccines, boosters and masks. Let’s make sure the next wave is the most mild of all,” he said.

Before the mask mandates for school children are lifted, Lamont said he would like to see community spread lowered, and have the vast majority of children vaccinated.

Covid and Cold Winter Weather

Dr. Juthani noted that with colder weather approaching, all viruses circulate more.

As for Thanksgiving gatherings, she said, “Those who are vaccinated, and particularly boosted, are the most safe in the group, and ultimately you have to look of the risk level of those who are coming to your dinner, both at the older level, and if there are younger children maybe who are going to preschool and don’t yet have the opportunity to be vaccinated. That’s when you can think about masking or testing in advance to mitigate the risk of spread in your family.”

“It is absolutely clear that virus finds those who are unvaccinated… Five times more likely to get infected. Ten times more likely to be hospitalized, and 15 times more likely to pass.”

Dr. Manisha Juthani

State residents 18 years and older are eligible to receive a Covid booster shot if it has been at least two months since they received J&J, or six months since they received a second shot of Pfizer or Moderna.

Dr. Juthani explained why Covid cases were increasing in Connecticut at a faster rate than other states, despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country.

“In the winter season there is more transmission of virus all the time. When the humidity goes down, viruses stay in the air for longer And we know people are going indoors and socializing more. This is a recipe for how the virus transmits. When it was hotter and people were indoors in some of the southern states, with AC blowing, a lot of their rates were higher.”

“As the weather gets colder and colder, this is going to spread a bit more in the community, but we have the tools to blunt this,” Dr. Juthani added.

As for flu shots, Dr. Juthani said the state was having a good uptake of flu shots.

“We’ve not seen much flu circulating, particularly in terms of hospitalizations. There is flu in Connecticut. We want people to continue getting their flu shots as well.”