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How to Find The State’s Highest Infection Rates (Hint: Check The Vaccination Rates)

October 28, 2021

Connecticut is one of the nation’s most vaccinated states with one of the nation’s lowest test-positivity rates. It’s not a coincidence. High vaccination rates, combined with social distancing and masks, drive down the virus’ transmissibility and dramatically reduce serious illness, hospitalizations and deaths.

But Connecticut can also demonstrate the effects of lower vaccination rates and their relation to higher infection rates. In the map below, updated this afternoon courtesy of the state Department of Public Health, you’ll see the highest rates of infection in red. (Hover over any town or city for specific case and rate information from the past two weeks.) The biggest, most obvious bloc, extends in the East from Union, Woodstock and Thompson along the Massachusetts border down through Norwich, Ledyard and North Stonington.

It’s hardly panic time. Killingly, with 46.1 cases per 100,000 people, has the state’s highest infection rate. Compare that with Idaho’s 1,244 cases per 100,000 people and its 61.7 test positivity rate, the nation’s highest. Connecticut’s test positivity rate is 1.62 percent, according to an update Wednesday by Gov. Ned Lamont.

Now look at the same area in the map below, where the lighter the blue the lower the percentage of people who have received at least one vaccine dose. (Hover over any town or city for the actual rates.)

Mansfield, at 39.43 percent, has the state’s lowest vaccination rate. The numbers, however, do not include college students — a large segment of the town’s population — who might have been vaccinated in their hometowns. The town’s low infection rate might offer a better indication of the town’s actual vaccination rate.

Killingly, meanwhile, has a vaccination rate of 56.65 percent. Compare those numbers to the nation’s two least-vaccinated states, West Virginia (40.99 percent) and Idaho (43.61 percent).

“This is not a Connecticut issue,” says Dr. Ulysses Wu, Hartford HealthCare’s System Director of Infection Disease and Chief Epidemiologist. “This is a global issue.”