There were 10 new COVID-19 deaths reported since yesterday, bringing the death toll to 7,984; hospitalizations dropped by 27 to total 518, the Department of Public Health (DPH) reported.
Residents testing positive for the virus totaled 327,298, an increase of 1,609 since yesterday’s report. The state reported 8,167,245 tests completed, up 36,502. The positivity rate is 4.41%.
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.
DPH Pauses Use Of J&J Vaccine + COVID-19 Vaccine Schedule
On Tuesday (April 13), the state – following the lead of the federal government – told COVID-19 vaccine providers to pause administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Earlier that day, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FDA recommended that J&J vaccine use be halted pending further examination of six reported U.S. cases of rare blood clotting among women between the ages of 18-48. Roughly 100,000 Connecticut residents have received the J&J vaccine with no reported serious adverse events, according to DPH’s press release. And, 6.8 million nationally have received one-shot J&J vaccine.
DPH has informed vaccine providers that were planning to hold clinics using J&J in the coming days to delay clinics or offer an alternative vaccine. DPH said that they will work with providers to minimize the disruptions, but the state anticipates that some vaccine cancellations will occur.
DPH Commissioner Deidre Gifford said Tuesday (April 13) that those who have appointments for the J&J vaccine should not assume their appointments are canceled; she said citizens should wait to hear from their provider, because many providers are switching to a different type of vaccine rather than canceling appointments. Gov. Ned Lamont said the state expects an increase in doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines next week that will make up for the loss of J&J doses, which before the pause made up only about 11% of the state’s total vaccine doses.
Vaccine eligibility is now open to everyone 16 and older and there are many appointments available. The state reported Monday (April 12) that 52% of adults 16 and older have received a first vaccine dose.
Priority access to vaccines is being given to medically high-risk people with sickle cell disease, end-stage renal disease or who are on dialysis, undergoing cancer treatment, or solid organ transplant. Priority will also be given to people with Down syndrome, and all patients of Connecticut Children’s and Yale New Haven Children’s hospitals.
The state Department of Developmental Services will organize special clinics for people with intellectual and development disabilities.
Sixteen- and 17-year-olds are reminded that Pfizer is the only vaccine approved for those ages by the FDA.
In other vaccine news:
The governor announced recently that vaccine clinics will be held at high schools for students 16 and older starting in late April/early May. And, clinics will be held at colleges and universities in early May, prior to the end of the spring semester.
To register for an appointment:
Go to ct.gov/covidvaccine and enter your zip code in the space provided. You will be given a list of closest available clinics and instructions on making an appointment. The governor said on Wednesday that hundreds of pharmacies will be added to the list of vaccinators.
If you do not have Internet access you can call Connecticut’s Vaccine Appointment Assist Line at 877-918-2224. The assist line is available seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Appointments are required in advance at all vaccination clinics in the state.
• Yale New Haven Health: You can register for your vaccination at this link: https://www.ynhhs.org/patient-care/covid-19/vaccine/get-your-covid-vaccine.aspx Yale is offering pop-up clinics for residents of New Haven and some area towns. You can schedule an appointment by calling: 833-275-9644.
Hartford HealthCare announced extended hours at the Convention Center mega-vaccine site at 20 Commerce St., Hartford. The schedule is: Wednesday, April 14, 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Thursday, April 15, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Wednesday, April 21, 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Thursday, April 22, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Vaccines are given by appointment only. To make an appointment, go to www.hartfordhealthcare.org/vaccine
• Select Stop & Shop locations are now offering the vaccine. Eligible residents can go directly to the Stop & Shop website to make appointments at https://stopandshop.com/covid-
You can register in advance at CVS.com, on the CVS app, or by calling 800-746-7287. Walgreens said appointments can be made at Walgreens.com/ScheduleVaccine.
Two vaccines are now available: Pfizer and Moderna which both require two doses. Use of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been halted, pending review by the FDA and CDC.
As of April 12, 1,533,933 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, and 977,061 are fully vaccinated. Total doses administered: 2,414,373.
According to DPH, 83% of the state’s population aged 65 and older have received their vaccinations; 71% of those 55-64; 54% of those 45-54 and 30% of those 16-44. But state data show that only 22% of doses were administered in highly vulnerable Zip codes, for the week end April 3, again falling short of goals.
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.
COVID-19 Variant Cases
On April 8, the state reported that the number of confirmed cases of the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7 rose to 649. There has been 1 death reported from the UK variant. DPH said that there are now 8 confirmed cases of the B.1.351 variant, also known as the South African variant. You can read reports on the variants here: https://covidtrackerct.com/
On April 8, the state reported that a new variant, B.1.526, first found in New York, has been detected 272 times in Connecticut. Read the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/transmission/variant-cases.html
CDC: When You Are Fully Vaccinated
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released new guidelines for people who are fully vaccinated. They can:
• Gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without a mask.
• Gather indoors with unvaccinated people from 1 other household without a mask.
• If exposed to someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to quarantine or get tested unless you have symptoms.
For more info on the guidelines go here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated.html
State Parks Returning To Full Services
State Parks system and boat launches will return to full services to visitors during the 2021 season, with some state campgrounds opening to campers with reservations today, the governor announced Friday (April 9).
For a list of every state park in Connecticut, visit portal.ct.gov/DEEP/State-
There is a current 200-person limit for outdoor group activities in Connecticut, which may be further adjusted throughout the recreation season. Most park buildings, museums, nature centers, and other enclosed structures, including restrooms, will be opened on Memorial Day weekend. Six feet of social distancing must be maintained at all times while inside park buildings, along with adhering to mask wearing requirements. Visitors who do not abide by these rules may be asked to leave state park property, according to the governor’s press release.
For more information on park openings go here: https://portal.ct.gov/Office-of-the-Governor/News/Press-Releases/2021/04-2021/Governor-Lamont-Announces-Plans-at-Connecticut-State-Parks-for-the-2021-Outdoor-Recreation-Season
Proms And Graduations
DPH has issued the following guidelines for schools and colleges to follow for Spring semester activities including proms and graduations.
• Mask wearing by all individuals engaging in large group activities, regardless of vaccination status.
• Holding “open air” events outdoors, which provide the lowest-risk environment possible for attendees. Tents with sides should not be used.
• Developing contingency plans for inclement weather by having one or more rain dates.
• Social distancing whenever possible.
• Providing hand sanitizer stations for frequent cleaning of hands.
• If events must be held indoors, planners should prepare to significantly reduce capacity by restricting the number of guests allowed per student.
• Work with local community health providers to administer COVID-19 testing for students and require students not vaccinated to show proof of a negative test 72 hours prior to admission to a prom.
State Restrictions Lifted As Of March 19
On March 19, the state lifted capacity limits at restaurants, gyms, fitness centers, libraries and retail outlets.
• Restaurants must maintain 6-foot spacing and a limit of 8 people per table. The 11 p.m. curfew remains in effect.
• Other entities allowing 100% capacity include: museums and aquariums, hairdressers and barber shops and houses of worship.
• Performing arts centers and movie theaters will continue at 50% capacity, a maximum of 100 people.
• Wedding halls will be limited to 100 people indoors and 200 outside. Private residential gatherings will be limited to 25 people inside and 100 outside.
• Bars will remain closed.
• Capacity limits on early childhood classes are increased from 16 to 20.
• Outdoor amusement parks are open.
• Outdoor event venues can increase to a 50% capacity, capped at 10,000 people.
• Indoor stadiums can open at 10% capacity.
• Summer camps and summer festivals are advised to begin the planning stages to open for the upcoming season.
Travel Advisory: Under the reopening plan, the state is lifting the mandate that a person traveling out of state must quarantine for 10-days or present a negative COVID-19 test. The state advises that when traveling use precautions: mask-wearing, social distancing and hand-washing.
$10,000 Fine For Violating COVID Rules
Businesses that violate COVID restrictions can be fined $10,000 per violation, per Gov. Lamont. The fines can be issued by local health directors or other municipal employees.
Other penalties that remain in effect include:
• $100 for not wearing a mask in public;
• $500 for organizing a gathering exceeding recommended size limits;
• $250 for attending an event that exceeds recommended size limits.
Community Hot Spots
Hotspot map this week shows 141 cities and towns designated as COVID-19 “hotspot communities.” (shaded in red on map).
Nursing Home Updates
For assisted living facilities, there were 2 new deathss reported for the week of March 31 – April 6. You can view the full report here.
Starting Nov. 1, nursing homes, assisted living and managed care facilities must test staff on a weekly basis, DPH ordered. This is the same policy that the state had in place in the spring and later changed.
In September, C-HIT reported on plummeting occupancy rates in nursing homes. You can read our report here: http://c-hit.org/2020/09/16/pandemic-deals-another-blow-to-nursing-homes-plummeting-occupancy/
Mathematica Nursing Home Report
An examination of the state’s response to COVID-19 in long-term care facilities recently found that state officials were so focused on the virus’s potential impact on hospitals that they largely neglected guidance from nursing home officials early in the pandemic.
“Early planning and response efforts focused on hospital capacity, with nursing homes viewed primarily as a backstop to alleviate high demand for acute care beds,” the report found.
The report, prepared by Mathematica Inc. at the request of the state, looked at the state’s response as the coronavirus tore through nursing homes in the spring and early summer. According to the report, 72% of the state’s 4,432 deaths as of July 30, 2020, were residents of long-term care facilities.
Mathematica, working with the UConn Center on Aging, interviewed 132 people from July 27 to Sept. 10, including state agency staff, facility administrators, trade association representatives, labor representatives, legislators, direct care staff working in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, family members of residents, and advocacy groups.
Among the report’s recommendations:
• Place full-time infection control experts in nursing homes.
• Increase minimum required staffing levels.
• Ensure that all nursing home staff have access to appropriate PPE.
• Explore ways to reduce duplicate case reporting to reduce the risk of data errors.
Read the full report here.
New 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
Schools Reopen; New CDC Recommendation
On Friday (March 19), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised its guidelines for schools, saying three feet of distance between students is sufficient for all elementary and most middle and high schools. The CDC had recommended six feet of distance between students; the change lays the groundwork for districts to reopen full-time for in-person classes.
Below are the guidelines the state issued months ago to safely reopen schools for in-person learning.
Information is available here.
The state released a more detailed plan on reopening. You can read the 50-page plan here: https://portal.ct.gov/SDE/Press-Room/Press-Releases/2020/Adapt-Advance-Achieve
Each district designed their own reopen plan. The state recommendations include:
• Grouping students by the same class/group of students and teacher into a cohort so each team functions independently as much as possible.
• Placing students in cohorts is strongly encouraged for grades K-8, and encouraged where feasible for grades 9-12.
• Reviewing building space and making use of available rooms, such as gymnasiums and auditoriums, to maximize social distancing, consistent with public health guidelines in place at that time.
Mental Health Services
The state recently provided information on services available to state residents who are feeling stressed during the pandemic. Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, commissioner of the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, outlined the services and programs that are available to help. Below is a chart of some services provided:
NEED A COVID TEST?
A number of hospitals, clinics and healthcare providers are offering COVID-19 testing. If you need a test go to 211.ct.org to find a location near you. https://www.211ct.org/
Connecticut encourages anyone exposed to the virus to seek a free COVID-19 test.
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.
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.