Doctors at Connecticut’s two largest health care systems say they believe the latest wave of the COVID-19 pandemic might be peaking in the state.
Their comments came as Gov. Ned Lamont’s office released data Thursday showing the state recorded 161 deaths related to COVID-19 over the past week, bringing its total during the pandemic to 9,442. Deaths were up from 121 reported the previous week in what the state said was the largest weekly increase in COVID-19 deaths in Connecticut since February 2021.
But the state also saw hospitalizations fall by 22 from Wednesday, with 1,917 patients being treated for the virus.
Dr. Ulysses Wu, the chief of infectious disease at Hartford HealthCare said that while the one-day data is not evidence in itself that the recent wave has peaked, it seems to be part of a larger trend.
“I think if you take a 1,000-foot overview, you’re starting to see again a decrease in the rate of rise and that’s very important,” he said. “So, if you look at it like we’re riding a roller coaster, we’re maybe nearing the top at this point, for at least this curve at this point.”
Dr. Thomas Balcezak, the chief medical officer at Yale-New Haven Health, said that during the first wave of the virus, there was a peak and then a steep decline in cases. He said that is unlikely to be the case this time around.
“Every subsequent wave since then, we’ve seen a much gentler decline and a larger shoulder or even plateau,” he said Wednesday. “I think what we will see with this in the coming five or six days is we’ll begin to see an ease-up of total number of patients in hospital, but it will be a slow decline over the next four to six weeks.”
About 14% of the COVID-19 patients in Yale’s health system are in the intensive care unit, compared with about 22% during the first wave of the virus in spring 2020, Balcezak said. The percentage of patients on ventilators has dropped from 17% to about 8%, he said.
“Unfortunately, a smaller percentage of a larger number is still a lot of patients that fall into those categories,” he said. “So, while we are better at taking care of these patients, while the illness is less severe, particularly when boosted, we still need to keep our guard up.”
Hospital officials said they have been dealing with three types of COVID-19 patients during this surge. The first are patients suffering from the disease itself. The second are patients in the hospital for pre-existing conditions that have been exacerbated by COVID-19. The third are patients, such as women giving birth, who just happen to test positive for the virus while in the hospital for unrelated reasons.