More than 44% of Connecticut residents have had COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, a new estimate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found.
Of the 47 states for which data was available, Connecticut ranked 43rd in terms of the share of its population that had experienced COVID-19, with only Vermont, Maine and Hawaii having fewer residents estimated to have been infected. Nationally, 58% of Americans have had the disease according to the CDC estimate, which is updated through late February.
Those numbers are higher among children, with about 75% of kids 17 and under nationwide showing signs of having had COVID-19.
The CDC’s estimates come from a long-running nationwide seroprevalence study, in which researchers analyze blood samples to determine whether someone has had COVID-19. Seroprevalence estimates are designed to account for not only positive tests that are reported to public health authorities but also cases that are never detected or reported.
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The new CDC estimates quantify the sweeping impact of the omicron variant wave that swept the country this winter. As of December, only 24% of Connecticut residents and 33.5% of Americans showed signs of prior infection, according to the CDC — before those figures rose to 39% in Connecticut and 43% nationwide the last time the CDC reported seroprevalence results in late February and jumped again with this latest release.
“I did expect it to increase. I did not expect it to increase quite this much,” Dr. Kristie Clarke, co-leader of a CDC team that tracks the extent of coronavirus infections, told the Associated Press.
According to the CDC, an estimated 1,590,000 Connecticut residents have had COVID-19, representing about 44.4% of the state’s population. The CDC’s estimate comes with significant error bars, with the true number anywhere from 38.1% to 50.7%, according to a public dashboard.
Other researchers using alternate methodologies have reached different conclusions about how many people have had COVID-19, with one model from the Yale School of Public Health and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health estimating that 70% of Connecticut residents had experienced the disease as of February.
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Through Tuesday, Connecticut had officially reported only 816,888 cases, a total that includes instances when the same person has been infected multiple times. More than half of those infections have come since the start of the omicron wave late last year, according to state data.
Experts say natural immunity derived from recent COVID-19 infection, in addition to vaccination, can help protect Connecticut against future coronavirus waves. Like vaccine immunity, however, natural immunity wanes over time, leaving people vulnerable to reinfection after about six months.
Connecticut has recently recorded a moderate uptick in cases and hospitalizations as a result of the BA.2 subvariant but has not seen an explosion of infections like what occurred over the winter, in a possible sign that natural immunity is having an effect.
Many of the U.S. states that have experienced the most COVID-19 cases, according to CDC estimates, are in more conservative regions, where vaccination rates are often relatively low and public officials have sometimes been less aggressive with precautionary measures.
Per the CDC, seroprevalence study, an estimated 69.7% of Texas residents have had COVID-19, most of any state, followed by Mississippi (69.4%), Utah (69.2%), Oklahoma (69.1%), Idaho (67.8%), Wisconsin (66.7%) and Alabama (66%).
In Vermont, on the other hand, only 29.8 of residents are estimated to have had COVID-19 as of late February. Maine, Hawaii, Connecticut, Virginia, Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico and Maryland were the only other states under 50%.
Alex Putterman can be reached at email@example.com.