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CT COVID, flu, RSV cases rising as temperatures drop, experts say

Fair Haven Community Health Care distributed COVID vaccines and flu shots on October 5, 2023.
Shahrzad Rasekh
CT Mirror
Fair Haven Community Health Care distributed COVID vaccines and flu shots on October 5, 2023.

With flu season underway in Connecticut, cases of the virus — as well as COVID-19 and RSV — are on the rise, with each expected to peak at different points over the next several weeks.

Dr. Ulysses Wu, chief epidemiologist at Hartford HealthCare, said RSV may peak soon. He expects flu cases to tick up in the coming weeks.

“Like last year, we’re seeing RSV first. And RSV is certainly going up, [but] it may have peaked in numbers; may actually be on its way down,” Wu said. “And right on the heels of that is influenza. I expect influenza cases to really start rising after RSV starts dropping, and that will probably continue through December and peak toward the end of the month, maybe mid-January, and then start dropping.”

A swell in COVID cases will come later, Wu said. He expects those to peak in January.

With cases rising, public health professionals are urging preventative measures including vaccinations and staying home when sick.

Connecticut Public Health Commissioner Manisha Juthani said masking “doesn’t hurt” and can be protective, but “with the case and disease burden we have right now, it’s not where any sort of requirement would be necessary.”

Here’s a look at this year’s COVID-19, RSV and flu trends in Connecticut.


Wastewater data shows a rise in COVID-19 since Thanksgiving — but not to the extent of last year’s sharp increase, said Jordan Peccia, professor of environmental engineering at Yale who leads wastewater testing there.

The data, which Peccia said has become a key indicator of outbreaks, shows COVID-19 in New Haven is currently slightly less prevalent than it was in fall 2022 and is at levels roughly equal to February and March 2023 — and far below December 2022 levels.

“This COVID outbreak hasn’t turned into anything remotely like the COVID outbreaks prior. … I would say the overall trend this year has been low compared to last year,” Peccia said. “We got hit hard last year when we opened everything back up. But we haven’t seen that yet this year.”

More than 2,700 people have been hospitalized for COVID-19 in Connecticut since Oct. 1, and between Oct. 1 and Dec. 15, 172 have died, according to Connecticut Department of Public Health data.

As of Dec. 14, 741 people in Connecticut have died from COVID in 2023, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data — a number much lower than last year, when the state saw 2,580 deaths.

At Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, COVID cases have stayed relatively flat this fall. The facility reported 17 COVID hospitalizations in September, 19 in October and 18 in November.

Dr. Ian Michelow, head of pediatric infectious diseases and immunology at Connecticut Children’s, said the facility has seen COVID cases in children start to rise over the last few months, but not to an overwhelming extent.

“What I’m guessing is [the COVID case rate] will go up, but not necessarily to the same extent as last year and the year before, because a lot of people have now been infected and developed natural immunity,” Michelow said.


Flu cases have been ticking up in Connecticut since early November, and experts say they’re expected to peak by late December or mid-January before beginning to drop.

Since Oct. 1, more than 100 people in Connecticut have been hospitalized for the flu, and five have died, according to DPH data.

Last year, Connecticut hit 102 flu-related hospitalizations by late November. Juthani said at the time that last year's flu season came earlier than those of the previous four years.

At Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, flu cases have risen slightly. The facility recorded three flu-related hospitalizations in September, four in October and six in November.


Hospitalizations for Respiratory Syncytial Virus have increased more rapidly than those for the flu among children. Connecticut Children’s recorded 10 in September, 61 in October and 158 in November.

But Michelow said despite the increase, RSV cases haven’t climbed as high as last year.

“It doesn’t seem to be as bad as last year. In October of last year, we saw a huge surge of RSV. That was a dominant virus, and it trailed off toward December. ... This year it’s been a slower start,” he said. “RSV certainly increased during November, a little bit later than last year. And now what we’re seeing is it has reached a fairly high peak — not as high as last year. And I believe, from what I’m hearing our emergency department, it’s starting to plateau.”

A new RSV vaccine recently became available, but experts say it’s too early to tell whether the shot has helped lower case rates.

Launched in 2010, The Connecticut Mirror specializes in in-depth news and reporting on public policy, government and politics. CT Mirror is nonprofit, non-partisan, and digital only.