Connecticut has seen a rapid increase in novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases since the state’s first case was reported on Sunday, March 8. The first case in Middlesex County was announced on Wednesday, March 18, while the first confirmed case in Middletown was announced on Saturday, March 21.
As the number of cases in Connecticut continues to rise, Governor Ned Lamont has taken a number of measures to combat the spread of COVID-19, including his “Stay Safe, Stay Home” directive issued on Friday, March 20, which directed workers at all non-essential businesses and nonprofits to work from home.
“We have a healthcare crisis,” Lamont said at his daily press briefing on Tuesday, March 24. “I don’t want to mislead people that, ‘Hey, it’s just gonna be another couple of weeks and then you get back to business as usual.’ That’s a mistake. I think the federal government has been sending that wrong message for too long…. I’m not going to just sit around waiting for the cavalry to come up from Washington, D.C. We’ll fight like heck for what is our due, but in the meantime, the people of Connecticut are resilient.”
The following charts will be updated daily as the Connecticut Department of Public Health releases new COVID-19 testing data.
Statewide numbers rising
State officials have emphasized that the number of confirmed cases is likely not representative of the actual number of people with COVID-19 in the state.
“We know that the number of cases overall doubles every three to five days, and the number of cases that we see, the ones that are confirmed to be positive for COVID-19, are just the tip of the iceberg,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Matthew Cartter explained at Lamont’s briefing on March 25. “And there are many more people in Connecticut that are infected—at this point, thousands—than what we have in terms of confirmed cases.”
Lamont, who said at his March 31 briefing that Connecticut was the fourth-most infected state in the United States in terms of cases per capita, stressed that the state expects more cases in the coming weeks.
“I think it’s pretty certain, according to every model we’ve looked at, that this is going to keep going in an aggressive way for at least another two to three weeks,” Lamont said.
At Lamont’s briefing on March 27, the state’s Chief Operating Officer Josh Geballe explained what trends the state is seeing as more cases are confirmed.
“When it comes to infections, positive cases, this is a virus that doesn’t discriminate by age,” Geballe said. “The infection rates are very consistent from, you know, all the way through the ages. But what’s really striking is the hospitalizations, and it really skews towards the older people who end up in the hospital…. If you’re over 65, if you have an underlying health condition, these are the people who have to take the most care to stay home, to self-isolate, because they’re the most at risk of ending up in the hospital.”
Lamont reiterated this trend in the age of hospitalized patients, emphasizing that it doesn’t mean younger people should disregard the importance of staying at home.
“You are 10 times more likely to be hospitalized if you’re over 80 than if you’re under 50,” Lamont said. “For those young people that say, ‘Hey, I maybe get infected, but it’s a lot less likely that I’m going to get hospitalized,’ which is true, but you are still infecting other people. That’s why it is so important that you stay close to home, respect those social distancing, respect those small groups.”
The increase in the number of hospitalizations on March 29 reflects a change in reporting from the Connecticut Hospital Association. Hospitalized cases are reported based on where hospitals are located rather than where patients reside. The increase in the number of deaths on March 31 reflects fatalities reported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner that had not been included in previous daily counts.
Cases continue to climb daily
At his briefing on Tuesday, March 24, Lamont spoke about the number of new cases reported in Connecticut that day, which had crossed 200 new cases in 24 hours for the first time.
“We thought it might get worse before it gets better, and I’m afraid that we are right,” Lamont said. “Sometimes infections are related to an increase in the number of tests, and that’s not the case this time. Infections are related to the fact we have a higher percentage of our people who are actually infected.”
Cartter explained on March 25 that there is uncertainty behind when COVID-19 cases in Connecticut will peak and begin to decline.
“It’s impossible to predict exactly when the peak will occur,” Cartter said. “The expectation is that our social distancing efforts will have an impact. They’ve talked a lot about flattening the curve—we’ll spread that out. And so for example, if we weren’t doing anything, it might be six to eight weeks, but if we put social distancing measures in and they work, as has been done, maybe it’ll be stretched out to 10 to 12 weeks before we see the peak.”
Hartford Healthcare President and CEO Jeffrey Flaks also spoke at Lamont’s March 27 briefing about when officials think cases could peak in the state.
“We believe that, at least, the peak is likely—being forecasted based on our best modeling today—around the second week of April,” Flaks said. “So the efforts that have been put forth by the state, the guidance that we took very early, and very strong and decisive action…are truly important.”
Breakdown of cases by county
Lamont commented on March 24 that Fairfield County has made up a much larger proportion of all statewide COVID-19 cases than Connecticut’s five other counties.
“Fairfield County still seems to be where most of the people who are infected are,” Lamont said. “And that just gives the rest of the state a little more time to prepare for what will be coming.”
Due to this difference in proportion of statewide cases in each county, different counties might see a peak in infections at different times.
“The peak is going to happen at different places at different times. Fairfield County is going to go first, the second half of April the most likely peak,” Geballe said in an article in the CT Mirror. “It will migrate to the north and east.”
Given the impending increase of cases, Lamont has continued to focus on preparing Connecticut for what is ahead.
“I know that whether we increase our capacity by 50% or 100%, every indication is we’re going to need all that capacity,” Lamont said at his April 1 briefing. “So what I’m doing is making sure everything I do, I expand capacity as fast as I can, fight for every ventilator I can get, get all the PPE we can, make sure we have more field hospitals…do everything I can to expand the capacity. We’ll still need more based on every model that I’ve seen.”
Lamont focused on the importance of staying home at his briefing on March 30.
“We got ahead of this curve early, and we’re running like hell, and the virus is right behind us,” Lamont said. “If you can, stay home. If you don’t think you can, stay home. And if you absolutely have to on essential travel, make sure you self-quarantine, and your neighbors and everybody else will be looking out for that. It’s the moral imperative, it’s the right thing to do.”