Public health officials are urging Connecticut residents to continue to wear masks and social distance as COVID-19 cases have flared up, particularly among younger people, and as variants of the virus are circulating in the state.
In an alert Saturday, the state Department of Public Health said the total number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 had reached 456, after climbing over the past week.
“While case rates have decreased among persons age 70 and older, they have plateaued or increased among all other age groups,” the alert said. “The age group with the highest case rates are 20-29 year olds.”
New Haven County saw the highest case rate per-capita, with 31.8 cases reported per 100,000 people. Towns with the highest case rates were located in the Waterbury and Naugatuck Valley region. In Waterbury, the case rate per 100,000 is 43.4, according to DPH.
Several towns that had falling or stable rates of COVID-19 have been moved back up to red alert status on the state’s color-coded map that tracks cases per-capita in the state’s 169 cities and towns.
More than 90 percent of the state’s residents now live in a community marked as red on the map, meaning a case rate of at least 15 infections per 100,000 people.
On average, the state’s case rate per 100,000 is 25— meaning the state on the whole could be considered a red alert zone.
The alert urged residents to get the vaccine when they are eligible – the state will allow everyone 16 and up to get the vaccine by appointment beginning April 1 – and noted that people are not fully vaccinated until 14 days after their final shot.
The warning comes as several variants of the virus that are of concern to researchers have been confirmed in the state.
In particular, DPH noted about 40 percent of new cases are thought to involve the B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the UK. Researchers believe that strain of the virus can be passed more easily from person to person, and believe it could pose a higher risk of death, as well.
The alert pleaded with residents to continue masking up and social distancing. It also warned spring breakers to avoid travel.
“Connecticut residents considering travelling during the upcoming spring break season are urged to review CDC’s travel guidance, which continues to recommend against traveling at this time,” it said.
During his pandemic press conference Thursday, Gov. Ned Lamont also warned about rising metrics in the state, noting the state’s 7-day positivity rate had risen 50 percent to 60 percent in the past two to three weeks.
“The greater Northeast in general is I’m afraid leading the country in many ways in terms of infections,” the governor said.
The reported flare-ups come a week after Connecticut had lifted many of its capacity limits on businesses and venues. The state’s mandate that travelers either produce a negative test or quarantine upon arrival in Connecticut from most places out of state has also been replaced with an advisory.
The Department of Public Health is not the only one raising alarm about rising case levels.
This past week, Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi told residents to avoid gathering, after the Fairfield County town of about 25,000 recorded 28 new cases in a day.
“We now have the third highest New Case rate in Fairfield County and I have to ask myself why? What are we doing wrong?” Marconi said in a statement distributed by the town’s Office of Emergency Management.
“Please stop gathering. Keep to your small and controlled bubbles. Do not relax your efforts,” Marconi said.