There were 5 new COVID-19 deaths reported since yesterday, bringing the death toll to 8,173; hospitalizations declined by 24 to total 198, the Department of Public Health (DPH) reported.
Residents testing positive for the virus totaled 344,977, an increase of 365 since yesterday’s report. The state reported 8,991,905 tests completed, up 32,583. The positivity rate is 1.12%.
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.
Guidelines for Fully Vaccinated People
On May 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that masks and physical distancing are no longer required in any setting for people who are fully vaccinated, unless required by state or local guidance. Connecticut will end its mask mandate for outdoor and most indoor spaces for fully vaccinated people on May 19. But masks will still be required in higher-risk locations like nursing homes and hospitals as well as airplanes, buses and trains. The state will finalize its rules in the coming days, Gov. Ned Lamont said Thursday (May 13).
The CDC also said that fully vaccinated people can resume domestic travel without testing before or after travel; and refrain from testing following a known exposure unless they are residents or employess of a correctional or detention facility or homeless shelter. Full updated guidelines here.
For those still not vaccinated, the CDC said that they should wear masks at outdoor gatherings where there are other unvaccinated people. Also, they should keep wearing masks at outdoor restaurants.
Everyone who is not vaccinated should continue to wear masks at indoor public places including gyms, hair and nail salons, barber shops, retail outlets, museums and movie theaters.
12- to 15-year-olds Can Receive Pfizer Vaccine
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is now available to adolescents between the ages of 12 to 15. There are about 170,000 residents in this age group. A parent or legal guardian can make an appointment for their child starting immediately or you can bring your child to a clinic that is accepting walk-ins. Permission is required, so a parent or guardian must accompany their child to the vaccine appointment. To find a vaccine clinic go to: https://portal.ct.gov/Vaccine-Portal
On May 10, the Food and Drug Administration authorized the use of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for 12-to-15-year-olds and on May 12, the CDC recommended the vaccine for this age group.
New Data On COVID-19 Breakthrough Cases
DPH reported May 7, that 242 people who have completed their vaccine series and contracted COVID-19. Of those, 159 (65.7%) were women; 58 (24%) cases occurred among people in congregate settings; and 32 (13.2%) were hospitalized. In CT, more than 1.467 million people are fully vaccinated.
Three deaths have occurred among the vaccine breakthrough cases. All three individuals, aged 55 and above, had underlying medical conditions, according the DPH press release. Nationally, there have been 132 vaccine breakthrough deaths, the CDC reports.
Phasing Out Business Restrictions
Restaurants can now stay open until midnight; restaurants and bars can serve alcohol outside without serving food. There are no table size limits. Indoor bar service remains closed.
As of May 19, all remaining business restrictions including stadium capacity and event venue limits will be removed. Bars can operate indoors. DPH will issue recommendations for safe operation of indoor and large outdoor events.
Starting May 19 if you are fully vaccinated you can get a free drink at participating restaurants. The “get a drink on us” program will be in effect from May 19-31. For info visit: https://www.ctvisit.com/articles/DrinksOnUs
State’s ‘New Normal’
Here’s what will happen in Connecticut state facilities in the coming weeks, according to Gov. Lamont:
COVID-19 Vaccine Info/Where To Get A Shot?
Text 438829 (put in your zip code) to get a list of locations offering COVID vaccineS near you.
Vaccine eligibility is now open to everyone 12 and older and there are many appointments available statewide.
Twelve-to-17-year-olds are reminded that Pfizer is the only vaccine authorized for those ages by the FDA. Three vaccines, including Pfizer, Moderna and the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, are offered. The J&J vaccine was paused for a brief time recently as regulators reviewed reports of blood clotting among 15 women between the ages of 18 and 49. Three of the 15 women died from blood clots. The FDA added a warning label to note the risk of rare blood clots.
Statewide more than 50 vaccination clinics no longer require an appointment. To find a clinic near you go to: ct.gov/covidvaccine/walkup
In New Haven, Fair Haven Community Health Care’s walk-in clinic operates from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Wilbur Cross High School, 181 Mitchell Drive.
Yale New Haven Health’s clinic at Hillhouse High School, 480 Sherman Parkway, is also accepting walk-ins. You can schedule a vaccine appointment by calling: 833-275-9644.
All Hartford HealthCare vaccination sites are open to walk-ins. You can find Hartford HealthCare’s vaccine clinic locations here: https://hartfordhealthcare.org/health-wellness/covid-vaccine/locations
If you want 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.
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.
You can also get a COVID-19 vaccination at select Stop & Shop locations, CVS and Walgreens pharmacies.
As of May 13, 1,987,211 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, and 1,618,266 are fully vaccinated. Total doses administered: 3,482,860. As of Monday, 71% of those 18 and older have received their first vaccine dose; 80% of adults 45 and older and 92% of those 65 and older have received the first vaccine dose.
State data show that only 30% of doses were administered in highly vulnerable Zip codes for the last week, still short of the state’s goal.
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 May 13, the state reported that the number of confirmed cases of the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7 rose to 2,532. There has been 1 death reported from the UK variant. DPH said that there are now 28 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 variants, read the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/transmission/variant-cases.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 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.
$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 continues to show great improvement, with 26 cities and towns designated as COVID-19 “hotspot communities,” down from 55 last week (shaded in red on map).
Nursing Home Updates
For assisted living facilities, there were no new deaths reported for the week of April 28-May 4. 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.
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 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 Call 211
Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, commissioner of the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, said that mental health services and programs are available to help. Call 211 for assistance.
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.