By Gregory B. Hladky
One of the big questions surrounding Connecticut’s pandemic Memorial Day weekend is whether all the beach-going and backyard barbecues will result in a spike in new COVID-19 cases in this state.
But the answer isn’t likely to be known for a week to two from now. That’s about how long it takes for most people to show coronavirus symptoms after being infected, according to Dr. Keith Grant, director of Hartford Healthcare’s infection prevention program.
“If something happens this weekend, for example, based on the incubation period, we’d say that within the next week or two weeks, we’d see some fallout from that,” Grant said Tuesday at the hospital system’s regular briefing
“It’s very hard to put [an exact] time or date on it,” Grant said.
Net hospitalizations for COVID-19 in Connecticut did rise by five patients on Monday, the first such increase in several days, bringing the total to 706 people being treated in medical facilities across the state.
But Grant said that slight increase couldn’t have been anything to do with whether or not people were social distancing or wearing masks in public over the holiday weekend, and he said such small increases were expected by disease experts.
“We’ve seen some spike in hospitalizations … across the state,” Grant said. “This is normal.” He said the increased number of people being treated for COVID-19 is likely the result of increased testing and that people seeking hospital care for other problems turn out to have the virus as well.
“Epidemiologically, it’s a higher probability that this will be the cadence. We will have some increases, some minor spikes throughout the summer,” Grant said. He added that it’s far too early to predict whether the surge in coronavirus cases that some experts fear will occur this fall will actually happen.
Grant said he believes that people in Connecticut “generally are very responsible at this point.” Despite some reports of large family crowds in some places, Grant said that “Most of the gatherings I’ve seen seem to very organized, seem to be very respectful of social distancing.”
Grant said the Memorial Day weekend is the first real chance to gauge whether Connecticut’s reopening efforts will result in any surge in cases.
“A lot of people got together, a lot of families used the opportunity to get together,” Grant said. He said that, if those gatherings actually produced increased infections, “In the next week or two weeks you’d be seeing that fallout from that.”
A little good news on the coronavirus in Connecticut
A new study of pregnant women being admitted to give birth at hospitals in southern Connecticut found that less than four percent tested positive for COVID-19, a rate far lower than in New York City.
Researchers at Yale New Haven Health reported that the infection rate for asymptomatic pregnant women about to give birth was even lower — less than three percent.
The report released Tuesday was based on tests of 770 pregnant women admitted to hospitals in Greenwich, Bridgeport and New Haven during April. Of that total, just 30 were diagnosed with coronavirus, and 22 of those women were showing no signs of the disease.
The results indicate that the infection rate for pregnant women in Connecticut is far lower than in New York City, where a separate study found 13.5 percent of women being admitted to hospitals for deliveries had the virus. New York City has been at the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S.
“Our report provides reassuring information on infection rates and appropriate hospital responses outside of highly endemic areas,” said Dr. Katherine H. Campbell, medical director at Yale New Haven Hospital Labor & Birth and Maternal Special Care Units and one of the authors of the new study.
The study’s results were published in the May 24 edition of JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Yale New Haven officials said the findings are an indication that, when comprehensive COVID-19 testing is employed by hospitals, staff in childbirth sections of hospitals will need far less precious personal protective equipment than was previously thought.