Case Prevalence Per 10,000, By Town

For the week ending March 17, 2021

SUSAN BIGELOW

This Friday restaurants, retail stores, gyms, houses of worship, hair salons, and other places will be allowed to operate at 100% capacity. When Gov. Ned Lamont made the announcement of the dramatic reopening two weeks ago he said that Connecticut had “earned it.” In other words, we were doing so much better than we were when it came to containing the COVID-19 virus that reopening made sense.

Does that still hold true? 

There are two different trajectories at work, here. When it comes to vaccination, Connecticut is doing very well. In fact, the state is doing so well that we’ll be opening up vaccination appointments to everyone over the age of 16 on April 5, weeks ahead of schedule.

So, if we’re vaccinating people so quickly, why aren’t cases falling? It probably has to do with more contagious variants of the disease becoming more prevalent. That’s why experts at Yale believe that reopening is too risky, and should be delayed. Lamont counters that because our most at-risk residents, the elderly and those in nursing homes, have been vaccinated, that reopening can go ahead.

But when it comes to actual COVID-19 cases and case prevalence, or the number of cases per 10,000 people, Connecticut has hit a wall.

For the week ending March 17, the state recorded 5,671 new cases, an increase of 636 from the 5,035 recorded the previous week. That works out to a case prevalence of about 15.87 new cases per 10,000 people. Test positivity increased very slightly, from 2.4% to 2.8%.

This is about where we’ve been since the middle of February. The number of recorded cases for the past five weeks, beginning with the week ending Feb. 17, were 5,860, 6,828, 5,438, 5,035, and 5,671. This period of stasis has followed a period in January and early February when cases fell rapidly from record highs after the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. 

So, if we’re vaccinating people so quickly, why aren’t cases falling? It probably has to do with more contagious variants of the disease becoming more prevalent. That’s why experts at Yale believe that reopening is too risky, and should be delayed. Lamont counters that because our most at-risk residents, the elderly and those in nursing homes, have been vaccinated, that reopening can go ahead.

There’s something to that, perhaps. Hospitalizations have been falling consistently since January, as have deaths. Still, it’s easy to understand why experts want the governor to wait. We’re so close. Why take unnecessary risks now?

Let’s take a look at the map.

As was the case last week, the vast majority of towns are in the 10-20 new cases per 10,000 residents range. This is where the state is, as well, at 15.87. Three towns, Clinton, Deep River, and Suffield, have over 30 new cases per 10,000 residents. Seven towns, mostly very small towns in the northwestern hills or the I-395 corridor in eastern Connecticut, had no new cases at all. There is once again not much of a visible geographic pattern. Case numbers and prevalence improve a bit as one goes farther north and east, but that’s about it. 

Cases remain stubbornly high in and around New Haven, as well as along the shoreline from Madison to Old Saybrook. 

The state is still in a race to vaccinate enough people to mitigate the harm the more contagious variants of the virus can cause. Re-opening may not cause that race to shift much, or it could make things much worse. We likely won’t know for a few weeks which is true.

Here is last week’s map for comparison.

Case Prevalence Per 10,000, By Town

For the week ending March 10, 2021

Susan Bigelow is an award-winning columnist and the founder of CTLocalPolitics. She lives in Enfield with her wife and their cats.

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

Susan Bigelow

Susan Bigelow is an award-winning columnist and the founder of CTLocalPolitics. She lives in Enfield with her wife and their cats.