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One-on-one with CT's Chief Operating Officer ahead of expanded vaccine access

Connecticut logged only 18 infections and two deaths in the nursing homes this week. "We’ve now got over 80% of our seniors 65 and above vaccinated," said Geballe.

CONNECTICUT, USA — Connecticut’s current COVID data tells a tale of two stories. An optimistic future where the vaccine gets us back to some normalcy, but also, the reality that right now, there’s more work to do to end the pandemic.

Governor Lamont has painted an optimistic but cautious picture. "I’m not diminishing what we have to do to get through this over the next couple of months, nor do I want people to panic," he said.

His message came against the backdrop of a rising infection rate and increased hospitalizations. Dr. Howard Forman of the Yale School of Medicine says it's a signal that COVID isn't over. "We’ve probably decided to open up a little earlier than some other states on the other hands we’ve kept out mask mandates in place," explained Forman.

Connecticut has the 4th most new COVID cases in the nation per capita. The Northeast as a whole is a hotspot. "It’s an important reminder for everybody right now that even if you are young, the odds of you getting sick or dying are very low but when you have large numbers of cases and community transmission young people are ending up in the hospital seriously ill," remarked Connecticut Chief Operating Officer Josh Geballe.

Still, the restrictions are loosening. On Friday, amusement parks can open. Outdoor event venues can increase to 50% capacity while indoor event venues open at 10% capacity. "And that means that spread is going to get worse. That is counterbalanced against a very successful vaccine initiative," said Dr. Forman.

Diving deeper into the data, 131 of 168 towns are now back to red alert status, but there are silver linings. For as high as Connecticut ranks in new infections, Connecticut ranks in the bottom third in terms of new deaths. Gov. Lamont said, "There’s good capacity at all of our hospitals. This is not like April not to mention December."

Deaths might be trending downward because the majority of the new infections are coming from a largely unvaccinated, COVID fatigued younger population of 20-to-40-year old's, who tend to recover more easily. 

Vaccines continue to bring good news too. Connecticut logged only 18 infections and two deaths in the nursing homes this week. "We’ve now got over 80% of our seniors 65 and above vaccinated," said Geballe.

Pfizer just announced that a Phase three vaccine trial in kids 12-15 was 100% effective. "That was the best news to wake up to this morning," said Dr. Forman.

And although racial equity disparities continue, overall, CT ranks as the 4th best state in the nation for vaccinating the most people. CT’s vaccine supply now at 230,000 first doses alone with eligibility set to expand to everyone 16 years of age and older on Thursday. "Based on the supply of vaccine that we are anticipating over the next several weeks we are very confident that everybody who wants to get a vaccine will have the opportunity to get one during the months of April," said Geballe.

So, the bottom line is, yes, there is reason to be hopeful and optimistic. But there’s also reason to be cautious and careful for a while longer until we can reach herd immunity.

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