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October 28, 2020

YNHH COVID-19 hospitalizations up 50% over last two weeks

PHOTO | New Haven Biz Yale New Haven Hospital

The head of state’s largest healthcare system said the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has risen by almost 50 percent in the last two weeks, as Connecticut’s daily positivity rate hit 4.1% on Tuesday.

There were 90 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 throughout the Yale New Haven Health system on Tuesday. That’s up from 64 on October 13 and just 26 at the end of September.

And while there were just two COVID patients in the health system’s intensive care units a month ago, that number was up to 20 on Tuesday, including eight patients who were on ventilators.  

While the uptick is well below the system’s peak of 800 cases last spring -- and in line with the rise in cases being seen nationally -- “it doesn’t feel very good,” YNHH CEO Marna Borgstrom said during a virtual press conference Tuesday.  

“People are tired. They’re tired of the pandemic. They’re tired of social distancing and they’re tired of wearing masks,” she said. 

But she and other medical and infectious disease experts stressed that those public health measures are still the best tools available to fight the virus until a vaccine is available and new treatments are approved. 
“There is now scientific certainty that mask wearing, social isolation and social distancing works,” said Thomas Balcezak, MD, chief clinical officer at YNHH. “There’s no question about that.”

The majority of the hospitalizations were at Yale New Haven Hospital, which had 51 of the 90 COVID in-patients as of Tuesday.

There were 16 at Bridgeport Hospital; 11 at Lawrence + Memorial in New London; 5 at Greenwich Hospital and 6 at Westerly Hospital in Rhode Island. 

Statewide, hospitalizations for COVID-19 increased by 22 to 292, following a bump of 37 on Monday, though the previous day’s report covered the weekend and Monday. There were six deaths, bringing the toll to 4,595.

Gov. Ned Lamont said Tuesday’s daily positivity rate of 4.1% of the latest batch of 13,039 tests was the highest one-day number since early June. The new seven-day rolling average is 2.5%.

“That’s not unexpected, but it still wakes you up like a cold shower,” Lamont said during a press conference Tuesday on absentee voting and polling place safety measures planned for next week’s election. 

Borgstrom said Yale New Haven Health has discharged more than 4,100 COVID-positive patients to date, but “sadly we have over 600 mortalities now.”

“While we are seeing mortality rates decline, that’s still 606 too many people,” she said. 

Balcezak said no one knows for sure why there are fewer mortalities and severe cases now compared to the spring, but there are a number of theories. 

For one, doctors know more about how to treat the virus, including which medicines don’t work, and they’re also using steroids more liberally, he said. 

The higher percentage of young people contracting the virus could also play a role, he said, since they’re less likely to suffer severe complications from the disease. 

He also said widespread mask wearing could be reducing the amount of the virus people are exposed to, so if they do get sick the symptoms are less severe.

Even so, Balcezak cautioned that people need to stay vigilant as the holiday season approaches.

“We all have a desire to reconnect with our families and our friends but it is not the time to be doing that,” he said. 

A Connecticut Mirror report was included in this story. Natalie Missakian can be reached at

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