coronavirus in connecticut

Q&A: Is Connecticut About to Enter A COVID-19 Delta Wave?

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After a three-day streak of decreasing hospitalizations, numbers are up again. Eight more people were admitted to the hospital with the virus in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of current patients to 365.

The state's positivity rate is also up slightly to 2.73%.

But is this another "wave" we're seeing? And should we be concerned?

According to the former FDA commissioner, a worse wave could be in our future. Doctor Scott Gottlieb was on CNBC this morning and predicted that states in the northeast will have another jump in cases because of the Delta variant. He thinks the increase in cases we've been seeing is just a warning of what's to come.

NBC Connecticut's Dan Corcoran spoke with the chief epidemiologist and system director of infectious disease for Hartford HealthCare, Dr. Ulysses Wu, about the issue.

Dan: Thanks so much for talking with us tonight. So, Dr. Scott Gottlieb specifically named Connecticut and New York as spots that could see another COVID-19 spike. Do you agree with that? And is it because of the Delta variant?

Ulysses: Yeah. So it really depends on what our definition of spike is. And I've used this analogy, unfortunately, in the previous waves. And so we've had the previous waves before and the analogy is, there's pacific ocean waves. And there's Atlantic ocean waves, or what I call Jersey Shore waves, because I'm from the Jersey Shore. And so we've periodically had these Jersey Shore waves, they're not quite the size of what we would normally expect as we had with COVID last March, and again this past winter, but we certainly had a little bit of a wave last June, believe it or not, and towards the end of June. And we are certainly experiencing a surge right now. Now it is not anywhere close to what it was like last winter, or when the pandemic first started. But we're definitely at higher numbers than we should be at this point.

Dan: Yes. So over the past several weeks, there's been an increase in cases and hospitalizations here in Connecticut. So was that a Delta wave? Or was that just a taste of what we could experience throughout this fall?

Ulysses: Yeah, there are two reasons why I believe that it is happening number one is, and by far, the most important thing is it's likely due to Delta. The Delta is much more transmissible. And so we are certainly seeing more cases associated with that. However, the other thing is that there is COVID fatigue that is going on. And although the vaccines, they're a beautiful thing, and they are our way out of this pandemic, when people started getting vaccinations, the most important thing that needed to happen to stop cases was exhibiting the right social behaviors to prevent transmission. Once we started getting vaccines, we kind of started partying, you know, a little, maybe a little too much start getting a little bit too close. And because of that, we know that the vaccine is not 100% protective in terms of preventing disease, its primary purpose being mostly to take a deadly disease and turn it into a benign disease. But that being said, the vaccine certainly has helped, but it is not 100% protective. And so those social behaviors are kind of important at this point.

Dan: So we've seen some of the southern states really struggling with the virus, but their vaccination rates are generally lower than ours here in Connecticut, will that make a difference in how well we deal with the Delta variant?

Ulysses: Absolutely. And talking about the southern states that goes back to what I was saying before, yes, their vaccination rates, number one are not good. And number two, it is hot down there. So everybody's kind of inside in the air conditioning. What's going to help us, we're going to have a beautiful fall, I think, it'll be nice, people will be outdoors, there'll be camping, there'll be sitting by the fire, and our vaccination rates, more importantly, are going to help us but around the middle of October where it starts getting really cold and starts forcing people indoors, that's when we may start to see cases rise. And that's why vaccination is even more important.

We thought we could control the pandemic with about 70% of the country vaccinated. But with the Delta variant leading to case surges even in highly vaccinated countries, that changes the math. We may need 90% to take the COVID-19 vaccine to really wrangle with this variant, says Alabama epidemiologist Dr. Suzanne Judd.
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