christopher d. brechlin / ctnewsjunkie
COVID-19 cases and deaths by age group, based on data from the state Department of Public Health (christopher d. brechlin / ctnewsjunkie)

As of April 30, Connecticut had reported an estimated 2,257 deaths associated with complications from COVID-19. However, the impact of the novel coronavirus on different age groups has been uneven. Individuals age 60 and older account for 93% of the state’s fatalities, but that doesn’t tell the complete story of how quickly both cases and deaths have increased among the elderly, or about how community transmission has affected Connecticut towns.

Putting COVID-19 cases and deaths on the same scale makes it possible to compare their growth rates. The chart above shows that when broken out by age group, the increase in mortality among older populations tracks very closely with the increase in cases. Globally, it has been well documented that COVID-19 is much more deadly for older individuals and this chart illustrates how dangerous it has been for individuals age 60 and older in our state. It shows that infection rates and mortality rates among older individuals track more closely than for younger people.

Using data from the Office of Policy and Management (OPM), we can estimate the size of the state’s population living in nursing facilities. The Connecticut Nursing Facility Registry shows that about 22,197 patients were living in licensed nursing facilities in 2019. Most of them — 85% — were age 65 and older. OPM and the Connecticut Department of Public Health report data differently, so the categories do not match identically. The chart above indicates that the people in Connecticut age 60 and older, which comprise most of the people living in Connecticut’s nursing homes, have been particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.

Of the state’s total COVID-associated fatalities, 55% have been in nursing homes.

It’s not surprising that nursing homes have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided special guidance for long-term care facilities and nursing homes where community transmission is believed to be a particularly high risk. Whereas the statewide case-fatality rate is about 8%, the most recent report of nursing home COVID-related cases and deaths puts that rate at about 37%.

Given that COVID-19 has had a more significant impact on older individuals than Connecticut’s general population, it’s possible that deaths among nursing home residents are skewing the overall mortality rate in certain communities.

OPM on Thursday released nursing home data through April 29. The following two maps show the number of deaths per 10,000 people in each town, using data from April 30 from the Department of Public Health. CT NewsJunkie previously analyzed case prevalence using maps on April 10, explaining why this is a useful way to compare towns.

The first map below includes all deaths per 10,000 people reported for a given town, regardless of the presence of group facilities of any kind. Statewide, 6 out of every 10,000 residents have died from complications caused by COVID-19.

susan bigelow / ctnewsjunkie
Map of all deaths associated with COVID-19 per 10,000 people, by town (susan bigelow / ctnewsjunkie)

The second map shows the net number of COVID-associated deaths per 10,000 people, minus the number of nursing home deaths in that community. Excluding nursing facility deaths, about 3 in 10,000 CT residents have died from complications caused by COVID-19.

susan bigelow / ctnewsjunkie
Map of deaths associated with COVID-19 per 10,000 people, by town, minus the fatalities in nursing homes (susan bigelow / ctnewsjunkie)

The number of deaths associated with COVID-19 drops to zero in two towns when nursing home deaths are removed. As of the April 30 reporting date, Marlborough and Suffield had no non-nursing home coronavirus-related deaths. In five other towns, the number of deaths per 10,000 people falls below 1 — Enfield, Groton, Guildford, New London, and North Haven — meaning all but one or two deaths in those towns were in a nursing facility.

In addition, using this view, the towns with the highest prevalence of COVID-19 deaths change. Initially, Windsor appears to have the highest number of deaths per 10,000 residents, with 26. In the second map, Ridgefield is the hot spot, with 10 deaths per 10,000 residents.

It should be noted that the dataset we used for this analysis does not include anything tracked by the assisted living centers. The state required them to begin providing data and the first report, released Thursday, April 30, doesn’t include fatalities.

Hospitalizations in Connecticut have been dropping for over a week, but the threat to the state’s older residents remains, inside and outside of nursing homes. We must remain vigilant and continue practicing social distancing to protect the most vulnerable residents and slow the spread of the novel coronavirus even more.

Christopher D. Brechlin is a data scientist from Hartford, Connecticut. Find him on Twitter @CTDataGuy or on LinkedIn. Perspectives are his own.

DISCLAIMER: The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of