HARTFORD — Connecticut is experiencing a more rapid increase in COVID-19 cases than any other state, according to the most recent statistics.
The state has averaged 738 daily cases over the last week, which represents a 116% increase over two weeks earlier, the Hartford Courant reported. That's higher than any other state for the same period.
Four of the five states with the highest recent increase in virus cases are in New England, the newspaper reported.
Although Connecticut started from a low rate of transmission and has fewer overall cases than many other states, health experts are urging caution as the holidays approach.
“We need to embrace normalcy at this point, but we need to be smart about it,” Dr. Ulysses Wu, an infectious disease specialist at Hartford HealthCare, told the newspaper. “Who are the people you are going to be hanging out with, how many people are going to be coming, and what is their vaccination status?”
The state’s seven-day positivity rate of 3.07% is the highest since early September, and average daily cases are the highest since mid-September. According to state data, unvaccinated residents are four times more likely to test positive than those who are vaccinated and make up the vast majority of those hospitalized with serious symptoms.
Connecticut reported 25 COVID-19 deaths last week, bringing the state's total during the pandemic to 8,834. As of Friday, 98% of state residents 12 and older and 82% of all residents had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the state.
In need of plow drivers
Already facing higher fuel and salt prices, the state of Connecticut is looking for snowplow drivers to fill a shortage as winter approaches.
The state department of transportation is seeking to hire nearly 140 more drivers to address a 13% driver shortage. DOT spokesperson Kafi Rouse told the newspaper the shortage is due to a recent spate of retirements and a shortage of applicants who have commercial driver's licenses.
It can be difficult to recruit snowplow drivers because of unpredictable scheduling, Rouse said. Towns have also been met with additional challenges as a result of the pandemic's impact on the economy and other related challenges.
Kurt Hayes, owner of Hayes Services, a snow removal service in East Lyme, told The Day he has reduced his customer list due to supply shortages for snowplow parts.
Fuel prices have doubled and salt prices are up about 30%, said Rick Whittle, owner of Allied Snow Plowing Removal in Mystic. Whittle told the newspaper he has had to raise his prices by up to 15%.
“Sometimes it can snow three times in a week, so it’s unpredictable to everyone involved, from the salt guy to the plow guy to everyone," Whittle said. "That’s what makes it hard.”