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Connecticut's COVID-19 numbers continue to trend in right direction

With Connecticut’s COVID-19 test positivity rate remaining below 1% for longer than it had in eight and a half months, Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday he may soon suspend his twice-weekly coronavirus news conferences “if the numbers continue as they are.” 

Lamont said the state would continue to collect and report COVID-19 data.

Monday’s statistics show the state’s vaccination rate increasing. According to the governor, 22% more people got vaccinated last week compared to the week before, which he attributed to some of Connecticut’s vaccination incentives as well as to the continued vaccination of 12-to-15-year-olds, who were recently cleared for the Pfizer vaccine.

Connecticut has now administered 2,110,048 first doses of COVID-19 vaccine, with 1,782,586 people fully vaccinated and nearly 3.76 million total doses administered, the governor reported, About 93% of those aged 65 and older have received at least their first dose; about 82% of people aged 55 to 64; 70% of those 45 to 54; 65% of those 35 to 44; 55% of those 25 to 34; about 50% of those 18 to 24; and 27% of children 12 to 15. 

During Monday’s virtual news briefing, Lamont announced additional vaccine incentives, including “Food On Us,” which would give vaccinated people a voucher to use at a New Haven Long Wharf Food Truck. Under the "Drinks On Us" program, participating restaurants have been offering a free drink to patrons who display their vaccination card.

Following reporting over the weekend that his lack of support killed a public option health insurance plan bill, Lamont gave an overview of what the state is doing to help with health insurance costs as well as address a proposed initiative implementing an annual $50 million tax to fund expanded state-run health insurance. 

Lamont characterized the move as asking insurance companies “to give up a little bit of their tax cut.” If that doesn’t happen, “poor people would have to pay a little more co-pay and deductible,” he said. It’s up to the legislature to approve the measure. The state does not need legislative approval to use federal American Rescue Plan funding to ensure that those who qualify don't have to pay insurance premiums and have additional support for out-of-pocket costs. 

Asked whether he’d support a public option bill in the future, Lamont said, "Not one where the taxpayers had to underwrite all the risk, and not one that didn’t play by the same set of rules as the other insurance providers.” 

“We have an aggressive plan out there that has insurance companies contribute to the fact that you don’t have copays and deductibles for those who can’t afford it,” the governor said. “We’re doing as much as we can for our preventative care, putting American Rescue Plan money in place. And we’re going to bring the overall cost of health care down starting with pharmaceuticals. Rather than getting distracted, that’s my priority right now, and I really hope we get that passed.” 

COVID-19 statistics

Since Friday, 386 additional cases of COVID-19 were reported throughout the state, bringing the total to 346,711. Almost 43,000 tests had been reported since Friday, with a positivity rate of 0.9%. 

Hospitalizations decreased by 13 during the weekend, bringing the total number of people now hospitalized in the state to 127. There had been seven more deaths associated with the disease since Friday, bringing the toll in the state to 8,219. 

New London County had 11 people hospitalized with COVID-19. The county has 22,421 total cases and 448 deaths, two more than one week ago on May 17. On Monday, Lawrence + Memorial Hospital reported four hospitalizations, and Westerly Hospital reported none.

s.spinella@theday.com

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