Connecticut has its first known case of the omicron COVID-19 variant, the governor's office announced over the weekend, and Gov. Ned Lamont is urging residents to take necessary precautions to protect themselves and the people around them.
He was in New Haven this morning, encouraging residents to get COVID-19 booster shots.
Lamont said Monday that there will always be a new variant and mild illness cannot always be prevented, but the vaccines and boosters are keeping people alive.
Officials said the world is so interconnected that happens at one end will wind up on your doorstep within weeks.
“(I)f there’s a new variant in southern Africa, it will be in Connecticut by the end of the month and this is what it means to be working through this together,” Lamont said.
He said the COVID-19 infection rate was 5.8 percent over the weekend, 5.8 percent for the week, which is the lowest in the region and the region is popping up.
“I must urge everyone in Connecticut not to panic. While we are still learning more about this variant, our health providers are continuing to do their best to protect everyone. We have life-saving tools like vaccines and boosters available to fight this pandemic – including the Delta and Omicron variants – and I urge everyone to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and everyone around them,” Lamont said in a statement on Saturday.
The first case of the omicron variant in Connecticut is a man in his 60s from Hartford County who is fully vaccinated and developed mild symptoms on Nov. 27 and had a positive at-home COVID-19 test on Nov. 29, then a positive molecular test on Dec. 1.
The governor’s office said a fully vaccinated family member traveled to New York City between Nov. 17 and Nov. 22 to attend the Anime NYC 2021 convention at the Javits Center, developed mild symptoms on Nov. 21 and on Nov. 23 took an at-home COVID-19 test that was positive. The family member’s symptoms have resolved and COVID-19 testing on additional family members is pending, according to the governor’s office.
Health officials in Minnesota said last week that a man who had not traveled outside the U.S. began experiencing symptoms the day after attending the Anime NYC 2021 convention in New York City. Minnesota’s health commissioner said it's likely the man contracted COVID-19 at the convention, but officials did not know for sure.
“As I’ve been saying for the last several days, given the speed that this new variant has been spreading around the world and its positive identification in several states, we presumed it was already in our state and the information we received from the lab today confirms that fact,” Lamont said in a statement. “This likely is not the only case of the variant in the state. That being said, I must urge everyone in Connecticut not to panic.”
He went on to say that while we are still learning more about this variant, health providers are continuing to do their best to protect everyone.
“We have life-saving tools like vaccines and boosters available to fight this pandemic – including the Delta and Omicron variants – and I urge everyone to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and everyone around them,” Lamont said.
Connecticut Public Health Commissioner Dr. Manisha Juthani said both affected individuals have had mild symptoms.
“It is reassuring as their immunity seems to be helping them fight off this infection. Vaccination and boosters are still our greatest offense. If we can keep people out of the hospital, reducing morbidity and mortality of COVID-19, it is still a win for vaccines in our society,” she said.
Juthani said Monday that 70 to 80 percent of people who are in the hospital with coronavirus are unvaccinated.
"The virus finds the unvaccinated," she said. "If you have been on the fence, this is your moment, this winter to protect yourselves and your family and protect yourself from getting into the hospital."
She said the delta variant is still here and it's what is causing most of the problems.
"If we convert this disease into something where you cuddle up in a blanket if you're vaccinated and stay home for a few days and then get better, that is the success of the vaccines," Juthani said.
Juthani said the immunity you get from a booster starts immediately.
"The immunity that you get from a booster starts immediately because your first two shots got you to a certain level. Waning immunity just means that it's slowly coming down with time. When you get your booster, you start going back up right away," she said.
"Every day after that booster, you are that much more protected, You're not wasting any time at all by getting booster," Juthani said.
She also urged people to wear masks when you are around large groups of people as well as people whose status you are not aware of.
Where to Get a COVID-19 Booster in Connecticut
The Connecticut Department of Public Health has opened mobile COVID-19 booster clinics throughout the state and urged residents to receive a booster dose.
Connecticut Mobile COVID-19 Booster Clinics
- New Haven: New Haven Public Library, seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. No appointment is needed.
- Stamford: Jackie Robinson Park, seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. No appointment is needed.
- Trumbull: Trumbull Mall, Friday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. No appointment is needed.
- Waterbury: 910 Wolcott St., 9 a.m. to 3 p. m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. to noon on Sunday. No appointment is needed.
- Windsor Locks: Bradley Airport, Thursday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. No appointment is needed.
Where COVID-19 Omicron Variant Has Been Detected in the U.S.
- New Jersey
- New York
Lamont, Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, Mayor Justin Elicker, Juthani, and Griffin Health CEO and President Patrick Charmel took part in a news conference at 9:30 a.m. at New Haven Union Station.