COVID-19 hospitalizations are up for a third straight day, though the state's positive rate is still hovering around 1%, Gov. Ned Lamont said in a press briefing Thursday.
Connecticut hospitalizations were up by two Thursday, to 90. Five more people have died, bringing the total number of coronavirus fatalities in Connecticut to 4,348.
There were 101 new cases recorded out of 8,171 tested, putting the positivity rate for the day just over 1% and keeping the state's rolling average around 1%. In total, 47,209 cases have been reported in the state.
"This still puts us really near the top of the heap, best of the country in terms of really low transmission rate," Lamont said.
Lamont said that while the numbers have increased over the last few days, part of that can be attributed to the fact that Connecticut's numbers are so good. Pointing to hospitalizations, Lamont said discharges are down because there are so few hospitalized in the first place.
When asked what red flags might cause him to change direction, Lamont said the state is still heavily focused on the positive test rate and hospitalizations, and suggested that if the positivity rate hits 5%, the state would have to reevaluate.
SCHOOLS REOPENING IN THE FALL
The governor said based on current metrics the state is still looking at opening schools for in-person learning in the fall.
Commissioner of Education Miguel Cardona said they are speaking with district and school leaders as well as teachers for input on how to reopen.
"We have heard a lot of concerns, a lot of fear and that is natural," Cardona said.
A key point in the plan is for individual districts to release and communicate plans with their communities to get feedback to see what changes, if any, would be needed to give people confidence to send their kids back to school. There are a variety of issues to consider, varying from how to keep younger students wearing masks to looking at air filtration systems in buildings.
Masks will be a critical strategy. The department is also encouraging districts to look at ways to get students outside as much as possible.
Cardona said one step his department is taking is to identify teachers who have certification but may not be currently teaching to see if districts can use that information to build up a bank of available substitutes if the need for one arises.
"We have erred on the side of caution since the very beginning," Lamont said in response to questions about concerns from teachers and parents. He pointed out that the state was one of the first to close and has used strict measures during reopening.
"We're hoping for continued success with Connecticut's rate but we're prepared to move as the data suggests we need to move," Cardona added.
SOCIAL DISTANCING AND FACE COVERING CONCERNS
State officials did say they continue to be watchful of whether people are following social distancing and face covering guidelines. They also noted that many of the states experiencing surges right now are states that did not follow strict rules on face coverings.
"Wearing a face covering is something we do for one another," Deidre Gifford acting Commissioner of the Department of Public Health, reminded the public. She noted that they have seen some drops in compliance, particularly when people are outdoors.
Lamont noted that Connecticut was initially hit hard by the coronavirus, and said he believes that overall the public attitude is to take precautions and restrictions seriously, whereas some other states that were not initially so hard hit may have had lower compliance or fewer regulations in place.