HARTFORD, CT – Nursing homes deaths related to COVID-19 increased by 106 over the past week, which is the lowest increase the state has seen since it began tracking the numbers.

Nursing home deaths account for 63.8% of the total number of deaths in Connecticut related to COVID-19. The number of positive cases in nursing homes jumped by 152 this past week. Overall, the state’s data showed four out of every ten nursing home residents had tested positive for the coronavirus.

The state is now requiring weekly testing of nursing home residents and staff, but overall testing seems to have plateaued.

The state says it has the capacity to begin offering 100,000 tests per week and its Reopen Connecticut Advisory Committee recommended that it offer at least 42,000 tests per week to make sure it could detect any outbreaks of the virus.

Over the past seven days as the state gets ready for the second phase of reopening on June 17, the state has done 40,587 tests over a seven-day period.

Gov. Ned Lamont’s Chief Operating Officer Josh Geballe said they are trying to make sure they are being “strategic” with the testing resources to reduce the public health risk of the virus.

“I’m not convinced any longer that having a goal just for raw number of tests is going to make sense,” he said.

Over the past few weeks, “the numbers have been relatively flat,” Geballe said.

But he said as they begin the second round of testing all nursing home workers the number of tests executed will begin to increase again.

“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink,” Lamont said.

He said they have more testing capacity than people who want to get tested.

“We’re doing everything we can to get the testing out into the communities,” he added.

Lamont said the state is still waiting to hear whether the federal government will pay for some of the testing, but he insisted that’s not slowing down Connecticut.

Lamont said the same issue has arisen with the “track-and-trace” program. He said personnel try to contact people, but “about half the people don’t get back to us.”

The contact tracing program is voluntary and being done largely with student volunteers.

As of Thursday, Connecticut reported 114 new cases for a total of 44,461 cases, and 26 more deaths for a total of 4,146. Hospitalizations continued to trend downward by 24, which means 246 people are still hospitalized.

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