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    Wednesday, April 17, 2024

    Connecticut reports record high COVID-19 test positivity rate of almost 15%

    Connecticut's COVID-19 test positivity rate hit its highest level to date Tuesday, reported at 14.98%, according to an update from Gov. Ned Lamont's office.

    There were 963 people hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state, 79.4% of whom were not fully vaccinated, whereas people who aren't fully vaccinated make up less than 26% of the state's population. The number of patients hospitalized increased by 38 from the day before, and New London County has 66 hospitalizations.

    On Dec. 28 last year, when the state's vaccination rate was just a fraction of 1%, the test positivity rate was 6.05% and 1,219 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.

    Dr. Ulysses Wu, chief of infectious diseases for Hartford HealthCare, said in a news conference earlier Tuesday that the system's ventilator and ICU numbers have flattened but those numbers tend to lag case numbers by about a week. He said Hartford HealthCare still has capacity to care for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients.

    On Tuesday, 5,753 of the 38,395 tests reported — both PCR and the rapid antigen tests — came back positive, but this doesn't capture all the at-home rapid tests people have been taking. The state has reported 494,964 confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus to date, and as of Thursday, there have been 9,077 deaths associated with COVID-19.

    The state reported that for the week beginning Dec. 12, unvaccinated people had a 4.5-times greater risk of testing positive for COVID-19 compared to fully vaccinated people, and a 13.3-times greater risk of dying from COVID-19.

    National Guard called up

    Lamont also announced Tuesday that he is calling up nearly 100 soldiers and airmen in the Connecticut National Guard to help distribute 3 million at-home rapid tests and 6 million N95 respirators, the purchase of which the governor announced Monday. The activation is federally funded.

    The tests and masks are being distributed to municipalities and school districts, which will determine how to get them to residents.

    "Our state is facing a challenging time. It is a time for caution and deliberate action, not worry," Maj. Gen. Francis Evon, adjutant general of the Connecticut National Guard, said in a news release. He said the Connecticut National Guard's COVID-19 response is "well-refined" at this point, and "we are committed to doing whatever it takes to help keep schools open, keep the economy running and keep our neighbors safe."

    Getting a test continues to be a struggle

    As was the case in the days leading up to Christmas, people continue to deal with long lines to get PCR tests and difficulty finding at-home rapid tests.

    Ledge Light Health District scheduled drive-thru testing at the Groton Municipal Building from 2 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, as it has every week. But before 2 p.m., the Ledge Light posted on Facebook that the line reached the capacity of the testing lab and the agency couldn't allow anyone else to get in line.

    Ledge Light's Wednesday test site is being temporarily moved from the Waterford Public Library to Waterford High School this week, due to high demand. It will be held from 8 to 11 a.m.

    The health district also will hold drive-thru testing at Stonington Human Services on Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m.

    People also were turned away Tuesday from Uncas Health District's test site at Dodd Stadium in Norwich, which will be open Thursday from 3 to 7 p.m. but closed Friday. The UCFS testing site in Griswold will be closed Saturday due to the New Year's Day holiday.

    e.moser@theday.com

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