HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A new COVID-19 spike in Connecticut is more heavily concentrated in towns with low vaccination rates, recent data shows.
A statistical analysis by the Hartford Courant found that over two weeks in November, municipalities where fewer than 60% of residents were fully vaccinated had a median rate of 26 daily cases per 100,000 residents. That’s compared to a rate of almost 14 daily cases in municipalities with more than 70% fully vaccinated residents.
“That is a no-brainer, for sure,” Dr. Ulysses Wu, and infectious disease specialist at Hartford HealthCare, told the Courant. “If an area is less vaccinated, there is going to be more COVID.”
The newspaper’s analysis also found that 22 of the 25 towns with the lowest vaccination rates are listed in the state’s “red alert” category, meaning they have more than 15 daily cases per 100,000 residents. Of the 25 towns with the highest number of new cases per capita in the two-week period ending Nov. 20, all but one had fewer than 70% of their residents fully vaccinated, according to the analysis.
Windham County, which borders Massachusetts and Rhode Island in the northeast corner of the state, has the lowest vaccination rate and the highest number of new cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cities including Hartford, Bridgeport, New Haven, New London and New Britain are among the least vaccinated municipalities.
A town that appears to be an outlier may not be one after all, health officials told the Courant. Mansfield has the lowest vaccination rate in the state but has recorded few COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. Officials said the data is misleading because it includes UConn students, most of whom are vaccinated but aren’t counted in the town’s statistics.
The recent uptick in cases statewide has come amid new fears about a new and highly transmissible coronavirus variant known as “omicron.” In a statement issued Sunday, Gov. Ned Lamont said that while no cases of the variant have been reported in Connecticut, a network of labs set up earlier this year to conduct genomic sequencing on positive tests will help officials track the new variant and others that may develop in the future.
“This news of the Omicron variant reminds us about the importance of being vaccinated and getting a booster,” Lamont said in the statement. “We have now entered the winter holiday season and still need to mask while in indoor public places, practice proper hand hygiene, get tested, and stay home if you feel sick.”