Acting Commissioner of Public Health Deidre Gifford (CTNewsjunkie photo)
Acting Commissioner of Public Health Deidre Gifford (CTNewsjunkie photo)

State public health officials pointed Thursday to separate COVID outbreaks at a summer camp, group home, and outdoor party in August to stress the importance of maintaining pandemic precautions as fall weather approaches. 

In an afternoon press release, Gov. Ned Lamont and acting Public Health Commissioner Dr. Deidre Gifford said the cases tied to the three outbreaks had some common threads including inconsistent masking and subsequent spread of the disease to family members who did not attend the events. 

“As we enter the fall, with back to school, holidays, and influenza season on the horizon, the Department of Public Health is reminding everyone of the importance of taking continued precautions against the Delta variant,” the press release said. 

In the outbreaks last month, vaccination status was also a strong predictor of who was infected by the virus. In the cluster of cases associated with the overnight summer camp the disease spread to seven campers and four staff members. It was later passed on to two family members. About half the people involved were children who were not eligible to be vaccinated. Of the six vaccine-eligible individuals infected, only two had been vaccinated. 

Meanwhile, there were five COVID cases associated with an outdoor party that later spread to two more family members who were not in attendance. Of the seven cases, six were unvaccinated. 

“The party was held outdoors with no masking or physical distancing,” the press release said. “This cluster resulted in the cancellation of school sports teams’ practices to curb transmission.” 

Another outbreak occurred at a group home and resulted in 17 COVID cases. This time it spread among a vaccinated population. Fourteen of the group home’s residents were infected and all but two were fully-vaccinated. Three unvaccinated staff members were also infected. The cluster resulted in five hospitalizations, three of whom were unvaccinated. 

There were 354 people hospitalized with the virus as of Thursday. Of those people, 74% were not fully vaccinated, according to the Public Health Department. Over the last seven days, another 20,498 Connecticut residents completed their vaccine series, according to the weekly COVID update

The state also reported another 1,258 breakthrough cases of the virus in fully-vaccinated people. So far, 0.43% of the 2.28 million fully-vaccinated residents have subsequently contracted the disease, according to the report. The state estimates that unvaccinated people are at five times higher risk of being infected or hospitalized with the virus. They are at 10 times higher risk of dying from it, the report estimated. Over the last seven days, another 22 people in Connecticut died with the virus, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 8,416.

“Most hospitalizations and deaths in Connecticut and around the country are with unvaccinated individuals,” the press release said. “DPH strongly recommends that unvaccinated individuals get vaccinated as soon as possible to help stop the ongoing spread of the Delta variant.”

Regardless of vaccination status, public health officials said that people with asthma and other lung diseases, diabetes or obesity as well as people who are pregnant or have compromised immune systems should avoid big indoor gatherings. 

As of Thursday, five Connecticut counties had COVID transmission levels considered high by the Centers for Disease Control. The other three counties, Fairfield, Middlesex and Tolland, were classified as having substantial transmission levels. In both cases, the CDC advises residents wear masks while indoors in public places. Although the governor has not issued a statewide order requiring public masking, some municipalities have.