Hospital official warns of 'pandemic of the unvaccinated’

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A top hospital official warned Thursday that the state is experiencing a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” playing out in its beds and intensive care units.  

Dr. Ajay Kumar, the executive vice president and chief clinical officer for Hartford HealthCare, told reporters that the “hospital systems are concerned about the unvaccinated individuals as they’ve seen higher hospitalizations and mortality at this time.”

Hospitalizations in the Hartford HealthCare system have risen in recent weeks from 12 patients on July 11, to 15 patients on July 16. On Thursday that number reached 23 patients with five patients in the intensive care unit. Four patients are hospitalized with COVID-19 at MidState Medical Center in Meriden. 

There were 66 patients being treated for COVID-19 statewide, an increase of eight patients since Wednesday and the highest number in several months, according to the state Department of Public Health. 

The state has seen an uptick in its infection rate, primarily due to the highly transmissible Delta variant, now the dominant strain in the U.S. and responsible for 80 percent of the state’s infections, he said. 

“Because the (Delta variant) is highly transmissible, the best defense we have is to continue to get vaccinated,” Kumar said.

The network has also seen breakthrough infections among the vaccinated, Kumar said, but he stressed that they shouldn’t be viewed as a sign the vaccines don’t work. The severity of illness is significantly lower in those vaccinated, he said.

“We are primarily seeing the unvaccinated in the hospitals,” Kumar said. “If I’m vaccinated, I can still get COVID. We all need to know that there is a 95 percent efficacy against the likelihood of death. Vaccines will reduce your mortality.”   

The ages of those currently hospitalized ranges from young adults to patients in their seventies, Kumar said.  

He doesn’t recommend the state re-implement mask mandates but asks vaccinated people to wear a mask when indoors around others with unknown status. Kumar said the level of transmission between a vaccinated person and unvaccinated person isn’t well known, but is less than if both people are unvaccinated. 

The number of COVID-19 cases continued to climb statewide Thursday with a 2.22 percent positivity rate and eight more patients admitted to hospitals, according to DPH.

Meriden and surrounding towns have seen increases of about three to four cases in the past several weeks. But vaccination rates have also climbed.

Leslie Gianelli, a spokeswoman for the Community Health Center, said the agency is crisscrossing the state to vaccinate people. The numbers at the mobile clinics have been steady, she said. 

The DPH on Thursday also reported an increase in 12-15 year olds getting their first shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech.  

“It’s encouraging to see the number of people in Connecticut getting vaccinated increase 7% over the last week, and we now have more than 50% of kids aged 12-15 vaccinated,” Gov. Ned Lamont said in a statement.

mgodin@record-journal.com203-317-2255Twitter: @Cconnbiz

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