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Increase in COVID-19 cases slackens

Hartford HealthCare’s chief clinical officer emphasized Tuesday that about 30% of the COVID-19 patients being treated in the statewide health system had sought treatment for another reason.

The relatively large number of “incidental” COVID-19 patients reflects the infectiousness of the coronavirus that causes the disease and the fact than many of those now contracting it — including those who have been vaccinated against it — have mild symptoms and in some cases no symptoms at all, Dr. Ajay Kumar said during a news briefing.

Kumar reported that Hartford HealthCare was treating 522 COVID-19 patients, up from 501 the day before. Backus Hospital in Norwich had 49 patients, an increase of three. Windham Hospital had 16 patients, an increase of one.

Among Yale New Haven Health affiliates, Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London and Westerly Hospital reported they had 61 and 15 patients, respectively. L+M’s number was up one from the previous day, while Westerly’s was down one.

Hospital officials have said they expect coronavirus hospitalizations to start declining in about a week. In New York City, the rate of new cases had begun to plateau, Gov. Kathy Hochul said Tuesday.

Dr. Ulysses Wu, Hartford HealthCare’s chief of infectious disease, said he expected cases to start declining around Jan. 15 and hospitalizations to follow suit around Jan. 21.

Wu noted that influenza cases in the state “seem to be decreasing,” adding that he was not sure why. Widespread mask-wearing in response to the surge in COVID-19 cases associated with the omicron variant could be the reason, he speculated.

Statewide numbers released Tuesday by Gov. Ned Lamont’s office show 6,751 new COVID-19 cases had been detected among 28,312 new tests, a one-day positivity rate of 23.85%. Hospitalizations across the state increased by 31. Of the 1,920 patients hospitalized, 1,292, or 67.3%, are not fully vaccinated.

For the week beginning Dec. 26, 2021, unvaccinated people had a 3.3 times greater risk of testing positive for COVID-19 compared to fully vaccinated people, according to the state. Unvaccinated people had a 17.2 times greater risk of dying from COVID-19 compared to fully vaccinated people.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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