First Covid-19 Numbers of the New Year Show Surge

More than 23,600 additional cases of Covid-19 were reported in Connecticut between Thursday and Monday, bringing the total number of cases in the state to more than 533,000.

There were also an additional 300 hospitalizations for the virus over the long holiday weekend. The hospitalization rate is the highest it’s been since May of 2020, with just under 1,500 currently admitted.

The additional cases brought Connecticut’s positivity rate to more than 21% on Monday. It was 20.33% the previous Thursday, the last time the state released its numbers.

Dr. Jordan Peccia, the head of Yale’s wastewater surveillance program which can forecast surges in Covid-19 and other respiratory infections, said the state’s Covid-19 report represents just a third of the actual number of cases because it doesn’t account for people who choose not to get tested or those who are asymptomatic.

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He believes numbers will likely become even more inaccurate as people begin testing themselves at home more often.

“The problem is now that you can take these tests at home which you don’t necessarily need to report them to the state and so with millions of home tests going into the state and millions of people testing there’s potential for none of those test results to get to the state whether they’re positive or negative,” said Peccia.

Wastewater surveillance programs are considered by some to be a leading indicator of future Covid-19 outbreaks because they capture the virus shed by everyone in the wastewater.

The state’s one-year contract with the program ended in October and the state decided not to renew it.

Peccia said he wasn’t given a reason.

NBC Connecticut reached out to the Lamont administration to find out why but did not hear back.

Meanwhile, the director of infection prevention at Hartford Healthcare, Keith Grant, said on Monday that he expects the surge to last another five to six weeks, but the rate of increase in positive cases to slow down.

In the meantime, hospitals are asking people not to come to the emergency room to get a Covid-19 test unless they are extremely ill.

Officials in several communities reported that people are either calling 911 to be taken to the hospital by ambulance for a Covid-19 test or driving themselves to the emergency room to verify an at-home test.

The head of emergency medicine at Bristol Hospital said they’ve experienced both scenarios.

“It makes it difficult to see sicker patients who need immediate care. It does lead to prolonged wait times in the emergency rooms, too,” explained Dr. Andrew Lim, Bristol Hospital director of emergency medicine.

Lim said the hospital’s current policy is to only test those who are high risk or could benefit from a specific Covid-19 treatment.

He said those who are young and otherwise healthy should stay home and isolate until they are well.