Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 — June 9, 2021

  “Shared expectations lead to predictability.” 

291.  Update on reopening!

         Q: How close are we to reaching a decision to reopen?

         A:  All 4 mandatory metrics documented on the website Covid Act Now ( were met on May 24th!   All 4 metrics must stay below their individual thresholds for a total of 21 consecutive days (3 weeks) – June 14.

Don’t forget: if any of the 4 metrics go above their thresholds before June 14 – even for one day – the count will go back to the beginning for a new 21-day count to start when all again become in place.  Caution: COVID-19 is known for its surges.

BUT WAIT!  We don’t actually reopen on that date after 21 consecutive days!  The Policy Board will only be informed that the community risk of COVID-19 will be at an acceptable level.  There are other teams at work evaluating and modifying the ventilation system, and a whole lot of other logistics are being worked out.  All of these will evaluated BEFORE THE POLICY BOARD DECIDES ON THE ACTUAL DATE WE REOPEN!

292. Many reasons are identified why people aren’t getting vaccinated

         Q: Why isn’t everyone getting vaccinated so we can all get back to normal?

         A: For many people, it’s quite frustrating that nearly half the people in Connecticut are not yet vaccinated (as of last Sunday, 46% have not received at least one shot and 36% were not fully vaccinated).  Many vaccinated people who are getting used to “returning to normal” are becoming frustrated by retail stores and indoor venues still requiring masks and other protective measures to protect the unvaccinated.  While CDC guidelines say those who are vaccinated can remove masks indoors, the unvaccinated people are not protected this way.  In effect, the CDC has given guidance that divides the public into two groups.  The unvaccinated are becoming “the others” in our divided culture, and they can become the object of anger and pressure to conform.  It is vital to understand that many people are not able to be vaccinated for valid reasons.  One study has found there are 8 major reasons why so many people have not or cannot become vaccinated:

  • Contraindications for medical reasons. Anyone receiving immunotherapy as part of their treatment (conditions including cancer, organ transplants, HIV, and other diseases) will have limited immunity gained from COVID vaccinations;
  • Children under age 12 are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.
  • The other reasons can be resolved with public education and altering the system of distribution and availability of the vaccines. These include lack of access to vaccination sites, COVID-19 is not seen as a threat, fear of vaccine side effects, lack of trust in the vaccines, lack of trust in institutions, and (unexpectedly) belief in one or more different conspiracy theories.  (In a recent YouGuv poll, at least half of the respondents cited one or more conspiracy theories determining their decision not to get the vaccine!)

The reality remains – not everyone in the community is able to be vaccinated. Shaming them and becoming angry becomes hurtful and not a bit helpful.

293. COVID-19 contact tracing is more valuable now than ever

         Q:  Will there still be contact tracing now that the pandemic is nearly over?

         A:  The pandemic is far from over.  Connecticut is in a region of the country with excellent progress in reducing the incidence and prevalence of COVID-19.  But the disease is still progressing among those not yet vaccinated just as before.  The number of vaccinated people is the reason the number of new infections overall has been reduced.  Even then, the infection rate over the last week has risen slightly in this state.  To further reduce the long-term effect of the disease, the need to identify new cases quickly, find the people each newly infected person has contacted, and isolate those who are able to infect others becomes easier and more important than earlier when the numbers were overwhelming.  But a paradox exists: as the number of cases starts to fall, it is easier to stop this mitigation step when it can be more effective.  This is what happened in Australia and New Zealand.  Their caseloads were reduced dramatically and contact tracing was reduced.  Within months, each country experienced surges that quickly reintroduced the pandemic in force.  Several states in the U.S. have introduced mobile testing vehicles to rapidly expand testing capability as hot spots are discovered.  Smartphone technology is also being used to make contact tracing a rapid capability where it is needed.  Nationally, it recognized that public health contact tracing workers can play an important role to rebuild local and state public health programs.  Contact tracing workers can stay on after the need for this activity has been reduced to help in this rebuilding.  This workforce can be the core to re-establish public health programs in preparation for the next infectious disease epidemic – or pandemic.  And that is surely just around the corner! 

294. The FDA warns against specific manufacturers’ COVID-19 virus test kits

         Q:  We have several home COVID test kits.  Are these safe to use?

         A:  Safety is not an issue.  Effectiveness is the important factor to consider.  The FDA recently issued a warning for the public to stop using the Lepu Medical Technology Antigen Rapid Test Kit and the Leccurate Antibody Rapid Test Kit.  Neither of these two kits has been approved nor authorized by the FDA for use and distribution within the U.S.  These kits have been distributed to pharmacies for retail sales, and are available for direct sales to consumers.  There is a reason to believe these kits produce an unreasonably high level of false results, and physician decisions should not be based on the results of these kits.  Those tested with these inaccurate tests within the last two weeks are urged to be retested with an authorized kit.

295. Post-vaccination infections are possible, and while rare they can be infectious

         Q:  What is meant by the term I am hearing about: “breakthrough infections?”

         A:  A breakthrough infection is someone who has been vaccinated, yet has contracted COVID-19.  These are very rare (as of April 30, with over 100 million people fully vaccinated, the percentage contracting COVID-19 was 0.01%).  Roughly 27% of the breakthrough infections have been asymptomatic, while in 2% of these cases the patient died.  Genetic samples of the virus taken from 555 breakthrough infections showed that 64% of that group were infected with a variant of the virus first seen in the UK and South Africa.  In another study, among 20 vaccinated healthcare workers, all of their breakthrough infections were with a variant of the original coronavirus-19.  These and other studies also indicate that breakthrough cases can transmit the disease to others, especially those not vaccinated.  It seems the more we learn about COVID, the more we find questions needing answers.