New Haven passes 8,200 COVID cases, 156 fatalities

Photo of Ed Stannard
New Haven Health Director Maritza Bond received a vaccination pin after getting the first dose of a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in front of the New Haven Health Department on December 28, 2020.

New Haven Health Director Maritza Bond received a vaccination pin after getting the first dose of a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in front of the New Haven Health Department on December 28, 2020.

Arnold Gold / Hearst Connecticut Media

NEW HAVEN — There were fewer COVID patients in Yale New Haven Hospital and fewer in intensive care, with 153 total patients and 45 in the ICU on Wednesday, according to City Health Director Maritza Bond.

That is a slight decline from the 160 people Yale New Haven Health CEO Marna Borgstrom reported were inpatients at the hospital on Jan. 6. Those numbers have been declining since mid-December.

While Bond noted the decrease of hospitalizations as “the good news,” the city also Wednesday reported an increase in overall cases.

“We are up to 8,213 cases since the start of the pandemic and 156 fatalities,” Mayor Justin Elicker said.

The rise in overall cases in the city has been more than 500, since Jan. 4, when Elicker said that there had been 7,639 cases of COVID-19 in New Haven and 153 deaths. He said at the time the hope was not to see “a significant bump after the holidays and that the cases start to go down.”

There were a total of 6,721 cases and 142 deaths as of Dec. 22, 2020.

Elicker said he was concerned about the percentage of cases in the Hispanic population. “This has been a trend in the last month and a half,” he said.

In the last two weeks, “31 percent of the positive cases were Latinx,” he said, while 17 percent were Black, 15 percent were white, 31 percent were unknown and 5 percent were “other.”

He said he and Bond have been reaching out to Spanish-speaking residents to inform them about testing and vaccinations. Both speak Spanish. “We are doing webinars and meeting with leaders in the faith community,” he said. “We’re also doing that with vaccines to engage leaders in how vaccination is going to work.”

Overall, Elicker said, “I think the cases continue to be high and I think that its in part we’re seeing the … wave after the holidays. We’re not an island and cases are high throughout the country.”

Bond said 2,190 people have received the Moderna vaccine at the Health Department, 54 Meadow St., since Dec. 28, and a second dose will be ready for them Jan. 25, four weeks later. That registration is automatic, she said.

Bond and Elicker said the city has not gotten as many doses of the vaccine as it needs and with the growing pool of people eligible; he encouraged people to get tested.

“Given the fact that the number of people that need to be vaccinated is incredible, that it will be quite some time before we’re able to vaccinate a lot of people, and it’s important that people still get tested on a regular basis, whether they’re symptomatic or not,” he said.

People at least 75 years old can register for the COVID-19 vaccine starting Thursday, as the city and state roll out Phase 1B vaccination plans, Bond said Wednesday.

Bond said during an online news conference that Phase 1B also would include a number of “front-line workers,” including first responders, some of whom were included in Phase 1A; educators; food and agricultural workers; manufacturing and grocery employees; and U.S. Postal Service. People who live in congregate residences, such as nursing homes, also are eligible.

“We know that in Phase 1B, those individuals that are 75 years of age and older will be able to make appointments directly with their medical providers and get vaccinated,” Bond said. Anyone whose primary health care provider does not have the vaccine available can go through the state’s Vaccine Administration Management System, on the state COVID-19 vaccination portal, by calling 211 or an assist line that will go live Thursday: 877-918-2224.

Bond said Thursday’s registration is for those 75 and older only, with the rest of those in Phase 1B eligible to register Monday.

On the state website, people can enter their ZIP code to find nearby sites. They do not have to go to a site in the town where they live. “That’s the luxury,” Bond said. “They don’t have to do it where they reside. They can do it where they work, so people have options.”

People can register regardless of immigration status or whether they are being paid through a payroll system or by cash, “under the table,” according to Elicker.

“We encourage everyone that’s eligible, especially our front-line workers, to work with your employers to get vaccinated,” Bond said.

Elicker said the testing site at 60 Sargent Drive, across the street from Jordan’s Furniture, has “a lot of capacity for people to get tested. It’s fast and people can usually get through there in 10-15 minutes.”

Elicker and Bond expressed frustration that they are not able to get a demographic breakdown of those vaccinated, even among city employees.

“That’s been the challenge within our department because we’re utilizing a federal link” and rosters of employees are vetted that way, Bond said. “And so we do not have the ability to break it down by job title, and so we are … trying to address that glitch currently.”

“This is a point of frustration,” Elicker said. “We both give the vaccine to other people that are currently 1A, and we are an employer that uploads our roster so our employees can get vaccinated. And unfortunately we don’t have data either as the employer or as the Health Department as to demographic information, who is getting vaccinated — race, ethnicity, age, address, region, where people are employed, what type of employment people might have.”

Elicker said he was concerned, as Phase 1B rolls out, that small employers, those who don’t understand the program, undocumented immigrants or those paid only in cash could be left out.

He said in a conversation with state officials, “I personally shared my strong interest in making sure that we have the data, within HIPAA guidelines of course, because that helps guide our ability to respond with education, to ensure that there is not a population that is being lost or forgotten. It also helps us to understand whether there’s hesitancy around vaccinations from any certain population.”

edward.stannard@hearstmediact.com; 203-680-9382