HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Sixty-five percent of Connecticut's 169 cities and towns are now in the red alert level, the state's highest of four levels for COVID-19 infections, according to state data released Wednesday as families gather for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The 110 communities mark the largest number designated as being in the red zone since April 22, when there were 112, according to state records.

Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont on Tuesday urged residents to still take steps to protect themselves, noting New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont had higher rates of infection than Connecticut.

“That's just a reminder that we're not an island. That's why we've got to continue to be very cautious,” he said.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Connecticut has risen over the past two weeks from 341.71 new cases per day on Nov. 8 to 751.29 new cases per day on Nov. 22, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins. In order for a community to be designated as being in the red alert zone, it must report case rates over the previous two weeks of greater than 15 per 100,000 population.

This month, the number of Connecticut cities and towns in the red alert zone climbed from 31 on Nov. 4 and Nov. 11 to 67 on Nov. 18 and to 110 on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, new data indicate there were 31 new COVID-associated deaths in the state since last Thursday. To date, there have been 8,865 COVID-associated deaths in Connecticut since the pandemic began.

As of Wednesday there were 300 COVID-related hospitalizations, the highest number since Sept. 20.

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