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Could Omicron Cases in State Peak This Week?

January 11, 2022

Time to put some specific dates on when you can expect Omicron cases to peak in Connecticut. "I would expect cases should start, hopefully, decreasing by Jan. 15 and then, hopefully, hospitalizations would follow thereafter around Jan. 21,"  said Dr. Ulysses Wu, Hartford HealthCare's System Director of Infection Disease and Chief Epidemiologist, at a Jan. 11 media briefing. "Again, a lot of this is dependent on Omicron right now." New York, typically a good indicator of what's next for Connecticut, reported 54,749 COVID-19 cases Jan. 10 after 51,698 cases Jan 3, representing a possible stabilization of the virus. Hospitalizations and deaths continued to rise, however, an expected result of the earlier surge in cases. "Just like we tend to lag the UK by a few months," said Dr. Wu, "we also lag New York by one to two weeks. So if they are, indeed, falling off . . . we should follow suit soon." Connecticut averaged 10,179 COVID-19 cases a day for the seven-day period ending Jan. 10, the highest number of cases since the pandemic began. The state's first Omicron case, announced Dec. 4, was a Hartford County man in his 60s who developed mild symptoms in late November after a family member attended the Anime NYC 2021 convention at the Javits Center in New York. Health officials later said the event, which attracted more than 50,000 people, likely led to the spread of the Omicron variant. Omicron, first reported to the World Health Organization Nov. 24 after being identified in South Africa, now has been detected in 114 countries. The interactive graphic below -- hover over the plot lines for cases per million people by date -- courtesy of Our World in Data shows the relatively quick rise and fall in cases in South Africa, with subsequent tracking in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. The state Department of Public Health reported last week that only 3.29 percent of fully vaccinated people have contracted COVID-19. The state's definition -- and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's -- of fully vaccinated is two weeks after completing a two-dose mRNA vaccine series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. But as the protection provided by these vaccines diminishes with time, a booster has become the best defense against Omicron. "Boosters are a good thing," said Dr. Ajay Kumar, Hartford HealthCare's Chief Clinical Officer. "We have zero patients (who have received a booster shot) who are intubated right now despite more than 500 patients in the system with COVID. So boosters are highly encouraged at the moment for preventing a severe illness."