COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths continue to increase in Connecticut with new concerns over the risk holiday travel poses.
Connecticut's test positivity rate fell to 5.43% on Thursday, but saw 45 new net hospitalizations and 55 additional deaths just one day before Christmas, according to the latest data from the state health department.
Of the 37,549 COVID-19 tests performed since yesterday, 2,038 came back positive. A total of 1,200 patients are currently hospitalized because of the illness.
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Because of the Christmas holiday and the weekend, the next release of COVID-19 data is not expected until Monday, Dec. 28.
Red Alert Town Update
161 of the state's 169 towns and cities are now in the Red Alert level, according to the governor's office.
Only Salisbury and Woodbridge are now classified in the middle level, or Orange Alert level.
Canaan, Colebrook, Cornwall, Scotland, Union and Warren remain in the gray alert level.
Towns with an average daily COVID-19 case rate of more than 15 per 100,000 population over the last two weeks qualify for the Red Alert level.
Holiday Travel Concerns
The CDC advised Americans to stay home for the holidays to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus. Americans had other ideas.
More than 1.1 million people traveled by airplane on Dec. 23, the most Americans to fly on a single day since March, according to data from the Tranportation Security Administration.
The recent rise in the number of travelers echoes a similar increase around Thanksgiving. The day before that holiday, 1,070,967 people went through TSA checkpoints, NBC News reported. It was part of a spike in travel in the seven days leading up to Thanksgiving that brought more than 6.8 million people to airports.
But all data around COVID -- number of cases, number of hospitalizations, number of deaths -- is rising around the country, officials urged Americans not to travel for the holidays.
"Travel may increase your chance of spreading and getting Covid-19," the CDC says in a message on its website. "CDC continues to recommend postponing travel and staying home, as this is the best way to protect yourself and others this year."
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont urged residents on Wednesday to limit their interactions with family and friends over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays to prevent another surge.
The governor said there appears to be more air travel, compared to the Thanksgiving holiday, and he urged people not to fly unless they absolutely have to. Those who do fly should test and quarantine, he said. He also urged people to celebrate with just their immediate family.
“The most important thing you can do is have you stay close to home,” he said, noting how the biggest flareups of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. over Thanksgiving occurred in places with the most people traveling. “I’m urging, with every bone in my body, to ask people to be cautious a little bit longer. That’s how we get through this.”