Julyssa Colon, a nurse with Optimus Health Care, adjusts her PPE before administering a test for COVID-19 at a mobile test site set up by Optimus Health Care in the parking lot of the Russell Temple Church in Bridgeport, June 30, 2020. Cloe Poisson / CTMirror.org
Health care workers place a vial containing a nasal swab into a bag to send for COVID-19 testing in May at Hartford HealthCare’s mobile testing site in Hartford’s North End. {updated with revised test locations at 7:35 p.m.} Cloe Poisson / CTMirror.org

{updated at 7:35 p.m. with revised COVID test times and locations in Norwich}

Connecticut’s three-day coronavirus escalation eased up Friday as the pace of new infections slowed to end the week.

Although the number of new COVID infections dropped Friday, it was still higher than Connecticut’s daily rate for most of the summer.

According to Gov. Ned Lamont’s office, 460 of the 33,808 test results reported Thursday came back positive, a daily infection rate of 1.4%. The administration reported daily infection rates of 1.9% on Thursday and 1.8% on both Tuesday and Wednesday.

The mid-week surge was also evident in the state’s rolling, seven-day average infection rate, which stood Friday at 1.4%.

For much of the summer, Connecticut’s daily and weekly rates hovered at or just below 1%.

The administration also reported two more deaths Friday from COVID-19, bringing the state’s fatality total to 4,513 since the pandemic began in March. And another three patients were hospitalized with the virus, bringing the statewide total to 110.

The Lamont administration also announced Friday that “rapid response” teams from the state Department of Public Health have begun to administer free COVID-19 tests and other assistance in Norwich, which is experiencing a surge of infections, and would continue through the weekend.

“We’re not out of the woods and we have to be very diligent about these flare-ups,” Lamont said Thursday during a briefing on the latest outbreaks. The infection rate in the southeastern Connecticut city was slightly below 7% earlier this week, while new cases of the virus sprung up recently at three nursing homes in the area.

State health officials confirmed Thursday that 46 residents and 11 staff had tested positive for the coronavirus at the Harrington Court Nursing Home in Colchester.

Health department spokesman Av Harris wrote Thursday night in a statement that the first case there was discovered on Sept. 16. Subsequent inspections determined “several infection control deficiencies,” Harris wrote, adding that the facility is addressing health officials’ concerns but still will be cited.

One of the deficiencies involved how infected and healthy residents were separated at the nursing home, according to one administration official.

One week prior, an outbreak was discovered at the Fairview Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Care Center in Groton. According to the facility’s executive director Billy Nelson, 11 residents have been infected and one has died. The home also said 10 employees were infected.

The highest-profile incident, though, occurred at Three Rivers nursing home in Norwich. State health officials in mid-September ordered the removal of all residents from that facility after 27 people become infected and four died.

State health department “rapid response” teams began offering free testing in Norwich this morning at three locations to limit community spread.

More free testing is scheduled over the weekend in Norwich, including:

  • Drive-through service from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, at Backus Hospital, 326 Washington St.;
  • Drive-through service from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, at Kelly STEAM Magnet Middle School, 25 Mahan Drive;
  • Walk-up service from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., Saturday and from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, at Three Rivers Community College, 574 New London Turnpike;
  • Walk-up service from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m, Saturday, at Uncas School, 290 Elizabeth St. Extension;
  • Drive-through service from 12 to 5 p.m., Sunday, at Norwich Adult Education, 191 Hickory St.

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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