HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont expressed concern Thursday about an increasing number of people testing positive for the coronavirus around the state.
The state reported 220 more people tested positive compared with Wednesday, out of a total of nearly 13,900 people who were tested. That's a positive rate of about 1.6%. The state's positive rate has been above 1% for more than a week, after weeks of being below 1%.
“Two hundred and 20 cases is concerning,” the Democratic governor said at a news conference. “That's still one of the lowest (rates) in the country, but it is a trend. This is something we're watching carefully. But all those folks who think we're out of the woods and it's time just to let it rip, this reminds you why we continue to be very cautious.”
People protesting the state's coronavirus rules including a mask mandate have appeared at Lamont's public events the past two days.
Connecticut reported one more death from coronavirus Thursday, bringing the total to 4,488. Five more people were hospitalized, increasing the total to 75, the highest number since July but still far below the peak of more than 1,970 in late April. Nearly 55,400 people in the state have tested positive.
Lamont and his chief operating officer, Josh Geballe, said it's not exactly clear why coronavirus cases have increased slightly in recent weeks, but it may be due to several factors including college students returning to campus as well as a recent uptick in Danbury.
Geballe added that the return of students in kindergarten through Grade 12 does not appear to be a factor. Of the 600,000 staff and students in public schools, he said 48 students and 27 staff have tested positive for the virus.
Lamont also said he expects Halloween trick-or-treating to go on as usual next month, joking that many costumes include mask. He said the state likely will be issuing guidance on safe trick-or-treating.
In other coronavirus-related news in Connecticut:
ANOTHER SCHOOL CLOSES
A Connecticut middle school has been forced to close for two weeks after a person tested positive for the coronavirus and nearly 70 people were asked to quarantine.
Trumbull Superintendent of Schools Martin Semmel said Wednesday that someone associated with Hillcrest Middle School tested positive and there aren't enough substitute teachers to fill in for staff members who are required to quarantine, Hearst Connecticut Media reported.
All students have switched to remote learning and the school will reopen to students Oct. 1, officials said. Semmel said the building already has been deemed safe for staff members to return.
School officials did not say if any of the 70 people asked to quarantine are students.
Semmel also said someone at Trumbull High School tested positive for the virus, but the school is remaining open and contact tracing is underway.
Hillcrest is one of several schools in the state to close because of the coronavirus since the new academic year started. Bristol Eastern High School in Bristol closed for two days beginning Thursday after one student tested positive and another developed symptoms.