Covid-19 metrics in Weston, Fairfield County, and statewide have improved significantly in the past week.
In our April 29 Covid Report, published every weekday evening, Fairfield County’s case rate dropped below 20 for the first time since late October.
At 17.4, it cannot be called a low rate, and certainly not a safe one, but it is encouraging.
The case rate number is explained at the end of this article. For now, to put it in context, in the first week of January the county rate was 75.6, more than four times higher.
Weston’s numbers are even better. The town had 11 new confirmed cases in the week that ended on April 24. In one week in early January, there were 60. The state Department of Public Health puts Weston’s case rate right now (for the week ending April 24) at 7.7, well below the county and state numbers.
The case rate is the most significant measure of where things really stand. The other significant metric is hospitalizations, which are gradually decreasing statewide and in Fairfield County.
On April 28, 127 county residents were hospitalized for Covid-19. On January 4, the number was 293, more than double.
Connecticut’s vaccination rollout is one of the three most successful in the United States, and the results are evident. Earlier this week, Governor Ned Lamont and Josh Geballe, the state’s Chief Operating Officer, pointed out that almost all patients currently hospitalized for Covid-19 had one thing in common: they had not been vaccinated.
In Weston, as of two weeks ago, 6,261 Weston residents have received at least a first vaccine dose. That is at least 80 percent of those in town old enough to be vaccinated. In the state as a whole, just over 60 percent of eligible ages have received at least one dose.
Earlier this year, health experts predicted that vaccine supply would exceed demand in Connecticut by the end of April, and that is now clearly the case. Mr. Geballe said demand has decreased by 50 percent in the last two weeks.
This may be one reason walk-up vaccinations are becoming more readily available, and possibly at more locations than officially offer them. In his Thursday press briefing, Governor Lamont said, “Between you and me, most places allow walk-ups.”
As effective as vaccination efforts have been, concern remains about uptake in younger age groups.
Governor Lamont said vaccinations among those age 65 and above reached 80 percent and then flattened. In ages 55 to 64, the number vaccinated appears to have peaked at 60 percent. In the 16–44 group, said the governor, the level is 45 percent.
Mr. Lamont and the Department of Public Health are placing special emphasis on vaccinating the youngest of those eligible, ages 16–17, the group with the highest recent growth but still lagging. Mobile vaccination vans are being deployed to large school districts where students are offered a “Ferris Bueller Day Off” from school to get a shot.
In an April 29 New York Times guest essay, Dr. Zoë McLaren of the University of Maryland explained how places with rising vaccination rates can expect a rapid decline in case numbers, the mirror image of explosive growth at the beginning of a pandemic. She also explained “why it’s important to maintain some precautions even after case numbers come down.”
The case rate is the average number of new cases each day in a given period, calculated per 100 thousand of population. That equalizes the number so populations of different sizes can be compared. Generally, the comparison is more valid when large populations are involved, which is why state officials usually focus no lower than the county level.
For us, especially at the town level, the case rate numbers are less significant than the path of the numbers over time. For most of the first quarter of this year, the path was heading in a worrisome upward direction. The improvement in the past few weeks corresponds to increasing vaccinations.