covid cases in august
COVID-19 cases by town in August. Credit: Courtesy of the Department of Health

Seven of Connecticut’s eight counties have been upgraded by the Centers for Disease Control to the “high transmission” category for COVID-19. 

Tolland joins Fairfield, Hartford, Litchfield, Middlesex, New Haven and New London counties, which were already on the list. Windham is the only county left in Connecticut classified as “substantial transmission.” 

The high transmission category—which is the most severe as defined by the CDC—is 100 or more cases per 100,000 people or a positivity rate of 10% or higher over the past seven days. The substantial transmission category is 50 to 100 cases per 100,000, or a positivity rate between 8 and 10% over the past seven days.

As a result, the Connecticut Department of Public Health is strongly recommending that all residents over the age of two, regardless of their vaccination status, return to wearing a mask indoors. 

The department reported that there have been 7,121 cases of vaccinated individuals contracting COVID-19 and of those, 53 have died. A majority of those deaths, 38, were among individuals over the age of 75. 

Vaccination doesn’t prevent a person from getting the virus, but the result will be milder symptoms, experts say. 

“It’s not like all of a sudden you’re wrapped in some sort of magic shield that the virus is going to not penetrate through,” Anthony Santella, professor of health administration at the University of New Haven, said Friday. 

Santella is vaccinated and is the COVID-19 coordinator for the University of New Haven. 

“I’ll take COVID any day being a person who is fully vaccinated because I know my outcomes are more likely to be much more successful than an unvaccinated person,” he said. 

Dr. Ulysses Wu, an infectious disease specialist at Hartford HealthCare, said there are five things people can do to protect themselves against the virus. 

The first is to get vaccinated. 

“Number two is social distancing. We are a social society so that’s not going to happen. Number three: masking. Number four: hand hygiene, which is not as important, but important nonetheless. And number five, which was added on and that goes with the social distancing, is not engaging in risky social behavior,” Wu said. 

“Don’t go unmasked to Lollapalooza,” he added. 

According to state numbers, unvaccinated people in Connecticut have been about five times as likely as fully vaccinated people to test positive for COVID-19 in recent weeks and more than 16 times as likely to be hospitalized.

The number of younger people contracting COVID is trending upward. 

The highest number of new cases from Aug. 8 to Aug. 21 have been the 20- to 29-year-olds. There were 1,675 new cases among that age group. During that same period there were 1,454 new cases among the 30- to 39-year-olds.