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Hartford HealthCare President and CEO Jeffrey Flaks (christine stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

HARTFORD, CT – An additional 279 Connecticut residents tested positive for COVID-19 bringing the total up to 1,291 cases and 27 fatalities Friday, according to state officials.

Gov. Ned Lamont said there are 173 hospitalizations, which is the “beginning of the surge.”

The surge would mean about 10% of the population or 350,000 residents tested positive. Only about 15% of those cases are expected to end up in a Connecticut hospital where there are currently 6,800 beds available.

“We’re preparing for the surge,” Lamont said.

Hartford HealthCare President and CEO Jeffrey Flaks said they have done some modeling and expect the virus to reach a peak around the second week of April.

An increase in hospitalizations will come an increased need for ventilators, according to medical experts.

christine stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Gov. Ned Lamont (christine stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

The state of Connecticut has 932 ventilators across the hospital system and Lamont’s Chief Operating Officer Josh Geballe said its request for 1,500 ventilators from the national stockpile has not been fulfilled.

“We haven’t heard anything back,” Geballe said at the daily press briefing.

Geballe said he worries that people will die if the state doesn’t have enough ventilators.

“This is one of the most critical elements of the healthcare delivery system,” Geballe said.

Lamont said it’s imperative they do everything that can to catch up on ventilator capacity.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont and Hartford Healthcare President and CEO Jeffrey Flaks discuss the latest on COVID-19.

Posted by CTNewsJunkie on Friday, March 27, 2020

Testing also has been critical to the delivery of services.

“Testing is important,” Flaks said. “Testing patients in the hospital is the most essential. Our ability to rule somebody in or rule somebody out allows us to manage critical resources.”

He said there are not enough tests or the kits and reagents that go along with it, but the hospital is doing its own testing now, allowing them to get results quicker than tests sent to private labs.

The state still is not testing as many people as it wants to because of shortages of personal protective equipment and the testing supplies necessary to perform the tests.

Flaks said access to personal protective equipment is a global challenge. He said at this point they are paying 10 times the original value of the product because at a point like this, “We’re not worried about the economics, we’re worried about how we serve the community.”

The supply chain professionals are playing an important role, according to Flaks.

Hospitals and health care systems across the state are looking for alternative space for hospital beds and Geballe said the state expects to give an update on those plans on Monday.