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Lamont on pandemic: 'We're not out of the woods yet'

While Connecticut has managed to control the outbreak of the coronavirus, the next several months, when the colder weather will drive people back indoors, will be crucial to avoiding another wave of infections, officials warned Tuesday.

“We’re not out of the woods yet,” Gov. Ned Lamont said during a panel discussion Tuesday hosted by the Yale School of Public Health on the impact of COVID-19 on the state.

“My job is to make sure that we keep our discipline, something that Connecticut has really led the country in, and make sure we realize that this is a really crucial 60 to 90 days coming up,” Lamont said.

While there’s concern that there could be another COVID-19 outbreak in the state this winter, at the same time as peak flu season, Yale epidemiologist and researcher Dr. Albert Ko said as coronavirus spikes in Spain, Italy and France show, “you don’t need to invoke a winter season to have a significant surge."

“The risk of surge is irrespective of season,” said Ko, who co-chaired Lamont's reopening advisory committee.

Though Ko said he’s hopeful that with the protocols the state has in place, including wide availability of COVID-19 testing, and “buy in” from residents, who have largely abided by social distancing, mask wearing and other public health recommendations, that the state will be “in containment mode through the winter season rather than in a reactive mode to resurgence.”

With the recent reopening of schools, Lamont said he thinks the virus will be able to be contained among kindergarten through high school students, but does worry about college campuses where students are coming from across the country. Several college campuses in Connecticut have reported a spike in cases in recent days.

Since Friday, there has been an increase of 417 COVID-19 cases statewide, according to numbers released by the governor's office Tuesday. The state has maintained a positive test rate of 1% for months.

The state reported that New London County has had 1,575 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Tuesday, an increase of 23 since numbers were last reported Friday. One additional suspected case brought the county's total suspected cases so far to 69. One additional death associated with the disease brought total confirmed deaths to 81, while suspected deaths remained unchanged at 27. Six people were hospitalized with the disease in the county on Tuesday, down from seven on Friday.

j.bergman@theday.com

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