A sign directing traffic to the entrance for the state’s first rapid Covid-19 testing center in New Haven April 17, 2020. The site which is run by CVS Health and the state of Connecticut opened Friday and provides results within about 30 minutes using a rapid test made by Abbott Laboratories free of charge for those who meet federal criteria and register in advance. The center, located in the parking lot at the former Gateway Community College campus on Sargent Drive, will be open seven days a week and expects to test up to 750 people a day. Cloe Poisson / CTMirror.org
Gov. Ned Lamont (file photo) Tyler Russell / Connecticut Public Radio

Despite nearly 2% of Connecticut’s COVID-19 tests coming back positive for a second consecutive day, Gov. Ned Lamont stuck to his plans Wednesday to  ease restrictions on certain businesses and social gatherings.

With 12 more patients hospitalized with COVID Wednesday, the statewide total eclipsed 100 for the first time since late June.

The administration reported 221 of the 12,390 coronavirus tests completed Wednesday were positive, a rate of 1.8% — the same rate recorded Tuesday. Connecticut had not seen a daily infection rate that high since late June, after it had moved past the worst of the pandemic’s initial surge.

Wednesday’s report also showed three new deaths from COVID-19, bringing total fatalities in Connecticut since the pandemic began to 4,508.

“We’re not out of the woods yet,” the governor said during an early afternoon press conference. “We are spiking up a little bit.”

The governor said he would consider scaling back his reopening plans if weekly infection rates climbed into the 3% to 5% range, or if Connecticut saw spikes similar to the huge jumps Florida and Arizona faced this past summer.

“But right now we’re not there,” he said. “But we’re watching this sharply.”

The governor’s comments came just eight days before Connecticut is set to enter its third phase of easing COVID-19 restrictions — one that will permit theaters and concert halls to reopen on a limited basis and increase the indoor capacity of restaurants and event venues.

Lamont acknowledged Wednesday the state could be seeing an increase this fall due to many local school districts offering in-person classes and state colleges and university campuses opening their dormitories.

But he added that “Right now we haven’t seen any real flare-ups around that.” 

Despite the two-day bump in infections, Connecticut’s average rate for the past week — a more important metric according to many public health officials — is 1.2%, one of the lowest seven-day rates in the nation.

“We’re still one of the best in the country when it comes to getting tested, and one of the best in the country when it comes to knowing what we’ve got to do and one of the ten best in the country when it comes to a low infection rate,” the governor said,.

Still, Connecticut enjoyed both daily and weekly infection rates at or below 1% for much of the summer.

At the same time, Connecticut hospitals — which were slammed during the worst of the pandemic — watched their beds open up as patients recovered.

But 17 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Tuesday and another 12 on Wednesday, bringing the new total to 104. That two-day surge represents a 39% jump.

Also Wednesday, Lamont announced an array of new resources — offered in conjunction with nonprofit partners including the United Way and 4-CT, the Connecticut COVID-19 Charity Connection — to support those who need to isolate or quarantine due to the coronavirus.

A community resource coordinator program will work with healthcare providers, contact tracers and social service organizations to ensure isolated individuals still have access to food, housing and income support. The program also will provide COVID-19 monitoring kits that include thermometers, pulse oximeters and masks. 

The state is dedicating $220,000 monthly for short-term hotel options for those who can’t quarantine at home.

And the 4-CT group will allocate more than $108,000 over the next five months for cash cards to help needy households cover quarantine-related expenses.

“These are incredible state-local and public-private partnerships that include the much needed expertise from people in our communities providing services to those who need them every day,” Lamont said.

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

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