Residents testing positive for COVID-19 totaled 422,785, up 1,093 since yesterday; the positivity rate is 5.37%, the Department of Public Health (DPH) reported.
The state reported 12,413,896 COVID tests completed, up 20,343. Hospitalizations increased by 20 since yesterday, bringing the total to 385. The state reported 31 deaths since Nov. 24, bringing the death total to 8,865. COVID deaths are reported weekly.
For a county-by-county breakdown of cases, go here and click on “Daily Data Report.”
Go here for the most up-to-date state information.
New Variant, Omicron, Declared A ‘Concern’
The World Health Organization (WHO) has labeled the Omicron variant, first discovered in South Africa two days ago, a “variant of concern.” The designation means that Omicron has mutations that might make it more contagious or more virulent, or make vaccines less effective. The WHO also warned that the evidence so far “suggests an increased risk of reinfection” in people who have already had COVID. For more information about the variant from the WHO, go here.
Effective Monday (Nov. 29), President Biden has barred travelers from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi from entering the U.S.
On Wednesday, Dec. 1, the CDC said a case of the variant was identified by the San Francisco health department in a person who had traveled to South Africa and returned on Nov. 22. The individual, who was fully vaccinated and had mild symptoms, tested positive on Nov. 29 and has been isolating since.
On Sunday, (Nov. 28), Gov. Ned Lamont issued a statement about the variant. “Our team at the Connecticut Department of Public Health, led by Commissioner Manisha Juthani, is following these developments closely,” he said.
“Earlier this year we set up a network of labs, coordinated by [DPH], that are conducting genomic sequencing on positive test specimens to provide understanding of the variants circulating in Connecticut. Our advance planning in this area will help us track Omicron, in addition to other variants that could appear in the future.
“The best defense against COVID-19 is a good offense,” he said, and urged residents to get vaccinated and, if they are vaccinated, to get a booster shot.
“This news of the Omicron variant reminds us about the importance of being vaccinated and getting a booster. We have now entered the winter holiday season and still need to mask while in indoor public places, practice proper hand hygiene, get tested, and stay home if you feel sick. That cold may be more than just a cold. It is particularly important to take extra precautions when visiting with older or immune-compromised friends or family who are at higher risk from COVID.”
CDC Authorizes COVID Booster Shots For All Adults 18 And Older
Adults 18 and older are now eligible to receive a booster shot, the CDC announced Nov. 19.
The recommendation by the CDC is the final sign-off needed for the vaccine boosters. Earlier on the 19th, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had approved Pfizer and Moderna boosters for adults.
Those eligible for a booster shot must have completed a 2-shot series of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine six months ago, or received the J&J vaccine two months ago. For booster shots, the CDC has approved the mixing and matching of vaccines. In other words, if you completed the 2-shot Pfizer vaccine, you can receive a Moderna booster.
Making booster shots available to all adults comes at a time when COVID cases are rising across New England, the Midwest and the Southeast.
Booster shots are available at Yale New Haven Health at various locations in its network. For information and to schedule an appointment go here: https://www.ynhhs.org/patient-care/covid-19/Vaccine/get-your-covid-vaccine
Hartford HealthCare has a list of clinics and mobile locations for booster shots. You can register and view the locations here: https://hartfordhealthcare.org/health-wellness/covid-vaccine
If you are in the UConnHealth network go here: https://health.uconn.edu/coronavirus/covid-vaccine/for information and to setup an appointment.
To find booster shot locations go to: ct.gov/covidvaccine
Pfizer Vaccinations For Kids 5-11
On Nov. 2, the CDC gave the go-ahead for vaccinations for children ages 5-11. The vaccinations are available through your health care network, pediatrician offices, school-based health clinics, community-based health clinics, local health departments and pharmacies. This age group will receive a dose of 10 micrograms, one-third of the adult dose. Nationally, more than 28 million kids in this age group are eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine.
Children age 12-15 are already eligible for the Pfizer vaccine under the FDA’s emergency use.
Yale New Haven Health has set up clinics for young children throughout its network. You can view the calendar here: https://www.ynhhs.org/patient-care/covid-19/Vaccine/vaccine-schedule and set up an appointment here: https://www.ynhhs.org/patient-care/covid-19/Vaccine/get-your-covid-vaccine Don’t have Internet? You can call 833-275-9644.
Hartford HealthCare is offering a number of special vaccine clinics for kids and also lists doctors’ offices providing vaccinations. To view the information, go here: https://hartfordhealthcare.org/health-wellness/covid-vaccine
UConnHealth is accepting appointments for kids 13 and under by phone: call 860-679-5589. For general information on vaccines go here: https://health.uconn.edu/coronavirus/covid-vaccine/
For general information visit ct.gov/covidvaccine
Not Vaccinated Yet?
To schedule a vaccine call 211, the helpline run by United Way.
Text 438829 and put in your zip code to get a list of locations offering COVID vaccines near you.
How Many Fully Vaccinated?
As of Nov. 24, 2,732,521 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, and 2,462,649 people are fully vaccinated. As of Nov. 24, about 95% of people age 65 and older are fully vaccinated and 93% of those aged 55-64 are vaccinated. Also, 85% of those 45-54; 86% of those 35-44; 79% of 25-34; 72% of 18-24; 81% of 16-17 and 72% of those 12-15 are fully vaccinated. Twenty-one percent of those 5-11 have been fully vaccinated.
The state has added a map outlining distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine by community. View it here: https://data.ct.gov/stories/s/CoVP-COVID-Vaccine-Distribution-Data/bhcd-4mnv/
There are no out-of-pocket costs for those insured in Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliant fully-insured plans and all self-funded plans, the state’s insurance commissioner said earlier this year.
Governor Eases COVID Protocols For Schools; Masks Still Required
The Screen and Stay initiative is designed to keep students and faculty in schools even after exposure to COVID-19. Under the plan, students and staff who are exposed to someone with COVID-19 and are not yet fully vaccinated will be able to remain in school if they don’t develop symptoms.
Schools can chose to participate in the initiative. Mask-wearing in schools remains in effect.
The new initiative will bring immediate relief to the frequent and repeated quarantines that continue to impact student learning and place a burden on working families, the governor said in a press release.
According to the press release, students and staff are eligible to participate if the close contact with a COVID-19 case occurs under the following circumstances:
• Exclusively during the school day (no extracurricular or social contact);
• If indoors or on a school bus or other school transportation, and both the contact and the COVID-19 case were consistently masked during the exposure even if brief unmasked periods (e.g., snack time, cafeteria) occurred, as long as six feet or more of space was consistently maintained;
• If outdoors, the individuals were masked or unmasked but were supervised by staff (e.g., mask breaks, physical education, recess);
• The close contact remains asymptomatic (any symptoms revert to regular isolation/quarantine).
Municipalities Can Impose Mask Requirements
The governor signed an executive order allowing municipal leaders to impose masking indoors in public places, regardless of a person’s vaccination status. Bridgeport and New Haven are still requiring mask mandates indoors. (There is no master list of all community-imposed mask mandates, so check local websites.)
• Mask-wearing is required – regardless of vaccination status – in health care facilities, facilities housing vulnerable populations, on public and private transit, and in correctional facilities, schools and child care centers.
• Businesses, private property owners, and state and local government offices may require masks to be worn by everyone inside their facilities.
COVID-19 Variant Cases
On Nov. 24, the state reported that the number of confirmed cases of the Delta variant (B.1.617.2), totaled 9,703 and the Alpha variant (B.1.1.7) totaled 3,525. You can track the variants here: https://covidtrackerct.com/
On variants, read the CDC report here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/transmission/variant-cases.html
Community Hot Spots
The CDC is also tracking COVID transmission by county. The designations include high, substantial and low are vary day-to-day. To view the CDC’s map on hot spot states and counties, click here.
Update: DPH Fines Long-Term Care Operators $19 Million
DPH has fined 101 long-term care facilities a total of $19 million for failure to comply with the governor’s executive order on staff vaccinations.
Those in noncompliance include: 68 managed residential communities, fined a total of $15.3 million; 18 residential care homes, fined a total of $405,000; 11 assisted living services agencies, fined a total of $2.4 million; and 4 nursing homes, fined a total $900.000.
“The fact that facilities have failed to report their compliance with EO 13F is unacceptable,” said DPH Commissioner Manisha Juthani, MD, in a press release on Nov. 21.
“With the holidays and colder weather approaching, we expect cases of COVID-19 to rise in the community, which increases the chances that COVID-19 cases will rise in long-term care settings. These vaccine mandates are in place to protect not only the patients and residents in long-term care but to ensure the health and safety of staff and their families and co-workers,” the press release said.
On Oct. 28, a total of $221,000 in fines were levied on 26 long-term care operators for failure to comply with the vaccine mandate imposed by the governor, DPH announced.
The state did not identify the facilities.
In early October, DPH reported that 95% of the 61,227 long-term care workers are fully vaccinated (54,379) or partially vaccinated (3,997). The employees work in nursing homes, assisted living service agencies, managed residential communities, residential care homes, chronic disease hospitals, and care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities.
The governor, under his executive orders, said that long-term care staff must receive their first dose of vaccine by Sept. 27.
Facilities in non-compliance can face $20,000-a-day civil penalty.
You can read the governor’s order here.
Assisted living facilities are no longer required to report to DPH. The last report with no new deaths was issued for the week of June 30-July 7. You can view the full report here.
Visitation Policy At Nursing Homes
Indoor visits are now allowed at nursing homes as long as there has been no new onset of COVID cases in the last 14 days and the facility is not currently conducting outbreak testing. Indoor visits will be suspended if there is a positive COVID case among a resident or staff, DPH said in its order.
DPH said that facilities can limit the number of visitors per resident and can limit visitor movement inside facilities. You can read DPH’s order here: https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/Coronavirus/20200925-DPH-Order-rescinding-restrictions-on-visitors-in-nursing-homes-residential-care-homes-and-c.pdf
Update: 84% Of Executive Branch Employees Are Vaccinated
As of Nov. 22, 84% state executive branch employees are vaccinated and 95% of employees are fully vaccinated or in compliance with weekly testing.
The agencies with the largest number of non-compliant workers include: Department of Correction, 634; Department of Children and Families, 146; Department of Education and CT Tech, 127 and Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, 124.
As of Nov. 22, 31 state workers who were non-compliant have lost their jobs, 35 have been placed on unpaid leave and 42 others are in the process of being put on unpaid leave due to refusal to comply.
The governor’s COVID-19 executive orders were extended by the legislature and signed by the governor this week. The COVID-19 order extends to Feb. 15, 2022. You can read the governor’s executive order here: https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/Office-of-the-Governor/Executive-Orders/Lamont-Executive-Orders/Executive-Order-No-14A.pdf
Mental Health Services Call 211
Mental health services and programs are available by calling 211 for assistance.
Feeling anxious or depressed? You can call the National Alliance on Mental Illness Connecticut (NAMI-CT) hotline at 860.882.0236. Workers are available to talk live, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
NAMI Connecticut offers more than 70 FREE, confidential support groups across the state that are peer-led. They are facilitated by people who have experience with mental health issues. During the current COVID-19 crisis, the support groups have moved online: https://namict.org/find-support/support-groups/
A virtual Family Support Group is held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 6:30 p.m.; visit https://namict.org/find-support/support-groups/ for details.
Support for the LGBTQ+ community here: https://nomatterwhatrecovery.com/trauma-and-the-lgbt-community/
The World Health Organization has information here: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
John Hopkins University & Medicine’s experts in global public health and infectious diseases has compiled a website to help advance the understanding of COVID-19. View the website, which includes an interactive map of cases worldwide: https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington has a forecasting model of COVID-19 cases here.