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As Connecticut ends its COVID health emergency, officials chart next steps

FILE: In April, 2020, around 300 beds were set up in the Moore Field House at Southern Connecticut State University to serve as overflow space for Yale New-Haven Hospital.
Ryan Caron King
Connecticut Public
FILE: In April, 2020, around 300 beds were set up in the Moore Field House at Southern Connecticut State University to serve as overflow space for Yale New-Haven Hospital.

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Gov. Ned Lamont announced Connecticut’s COVID-19 public health emergency will end on Thursday, May 11, the same day as the federal public health emergency is set to expire.

The announcement delivered at Yale New Haven Hospital Wednesday came as COVID-19 hospitalizations in Connecticut are at their lowest pointsince the summer of 2021. Deaths associated with the virus have also dropped nationwide by more than 80%, since the peak of the Omicron surge at the end of January 2022.

The virus is now in the endemic stage, state officials said, but COVID-19 must continue to be managed.

Dr. Manisha Juthani, commissioner of the state Department of Public Health, said the DPH will begin to track COVID-19 data on a seasonal basis much like it does for the flu. The agency will continue to issue guidelines for vaccinations, boosters, and masking, but will do so seasonally.

The state will continue to monitor wastewater for new COVID strains.

“We are in a place where COVID is part of our society and is part of what we are living with,” Juthani said. “Three years into this, the virus is not going away. The virus will need to be managed. My hope is that it’s going to be managed on a seasonal basis.”

Officials said they are well prepared for the next COVID wave, or a more virulent mutation.

“We've made investments for the future both to address some of the consequences of the pandemic that went beyond COVID itself, but also to make sure that we're prepared,” said Dr. Deidre Gifford, executive director of the state Office of Health Strategy. “Huge investments in ventilation in our schools and other health care facilities – $165 invested in schools.”

An additional $150 million was recently announced. And, a statewide inventory of 30,000 medication courses are at providers and pharmacies, as well as a stockpile of more than 16 million gloves, 9 million gowns, 6.4 million N95 masks, and over 9 million surgical masks.

Sujata Srinivasan is Connecticut Public Radio’s senior health reporter. Prior to that, she was a senior producer for Where We Live, a newsroom editor, and from 2010-2014, a business reporter for the station.

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