The second wave of COVID-19 spiked in Connecticut on January 4 with 3,300 confirmed cases. The state hasn't seen daily numbers that high since.
“We’re seeing the case rates being down about 37% over the past 14 days which is just phenomenal,” said Karl Minges, University of New Haven’s Health Administration and Policy chair.
So, what’s behind the decline?
“I think the biggest thing is that there has not been a significant number of public gatherings,” said Minges.
The holidays are over, and people have adopted the pandemic best practices learned a year ago. Plus, there are 270,000 positive cases and an unknown number of asymptomatic cases in the state since the pandemic began.
“People have had an infection; they’ve generated immunity to the virus. How long that will last, we don’t know,” said Minges.
Vaccination is part of the puzzle as well. Connecticut is fourth in the country with 473,000 people receiving the first dose, nearly half that number have gotten both.
“It’s just like taking the flu shot. Not that you won’t get the flu but when you do get it, it won’t affect you as much,” said Mary Ransom, who brought her 83-year-old sister to one of two New Haven pop-up vaccine clinics Tuesday at Atwater Senior Center.
“It was very convenient,” said Mary Starr of New Haven who also got an appointment through the city. “I had no problems. I talked to the person last week and I got my appointment right away, so it was no problem at all.”
She is among the 65 and up group now eligible in Connecticut. Some expected a challenge getting an appointment but found calling the health department was a quick solution.
“I’m feeling excited and blessed,” said Gail Staggers. “Kudos go out to New Haven for doing this.
Gail Staggers even found a familiar face in her vaccinator. The retired teacher was seen by a former student.
“I was amazed that I knew her and then I feel especially blessed because one of my own gave me this vaccine. I think it’s a sign that it’s going to be okay,” said Staggers.
The strategic clinics held in neighborhoods around the city like Fair Haven and The Hill, break down language, transportation and economic barriers to getting a vaccine.
“If you have in your mind that you really want to take the vaccine, there’s no reason that you can’t be able to get it,” said Starr.
The most recent state data from Thursday shows New Haven is seventh in total vaccines administered to residents over 75. More than 2,400 doses have reached 45% of that demographic. So far, the city’s health department has given 6,100 total vaccines.
“We make it accessible to seniors, we provide transportation to them, and we schedule them in a time that they are comfortable with,” said Migdalia Castro, director of elderly services for New Haven.
Castro says they’ve worked with 40 plus senior programs to spread the word and encourage people to get vaccinated. She says people in the community are also feeling more at ease with their friends and family getting vaccinated and dealing with people in the senior community they trust.
“People feel very comfortable. It’s some place that’s familiar for them,” said Castro.
The health department is scheduling first and second doses for the pop-up sites. Staggers says no matter where you are in the state, if you have trouble finding an appointment, stay persistent.
“I say keep trying. Don’t stop. For some of us it’s very very easy, for some of us it’s a little more complicated. But this is a complicated time so don’t give up.”