Sub base dials back reopening amid rising state infections

GROTON, Conn. (AP) — The Navy's submarine base in Connecticut is reinstituting stricter COVID-19 protocols amid rising infection rates in the state.

Submarine Base New London raised what is known as its Force Health Protection Condition on Wednesday from Alpha back to the stricter Bravo for the first time since June 10.

That means gathering sizes in the gymnasium and for events on the base may be limited. The base's racquetball courts have been closed and its swimming pool will be open by appointment only.

Mask requirements remain in effect at the base clinic, child development and youth centers and for people on base who aren’t fully vaccinated.

“All of us — immunized or not — must remember that the pandemic continues, and our Navy and SUBASE bottom line must always be: ensuring we do not raise any undue risk to our Sailors, our families, and our critical mission,” Capt. Todd Moore, the base's commanding officer, said in a statement.

Officials said the shift results from review of rising COVID-19 virus conditions. Infection rates and hospitalizations in the past six weeks have indicated the virus has been adapting and its reach growing, base officials said.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Connecticut has risen over the past two weeks from 55.86 new cases per day on July 6 to 163.43 new cases per day on July 20.

“The base increase to HPCON Bravo should serve as reminder to all that the pandemic remains significant, and even deadly, for those who are not vaccinated,” officials said in their release.

In other coronavirus-related news in Connecticut:


New COVID-19 infections continue to be reported in Connecticut, with the delta variant now making up most of the state's new cases.

Dr. Deidre Gifford, the state's acting Department of Public Health commissioner, told The Hartford Courant that the delta variant now makes up about 80% of the state's cases — an estimate provided by researchers at the Yale School of Public Health. There have been at least 126 cases so far.

Data released by the state on Thursday indicate there have been four new COVID-associated deaths since July 15, for a total of 8,286 people. Meanwhile, the number of confirmed or probable cases increased by 295 since Wednesday, while the number of hospitalizations increased by eight, for a total of 66 patients.

Two eastern Connecticut communities, Franklin and Salem, are now designated as being in the “red alert zone,” registering case rates at or above 15 per 100,000 population over the past two weeks. It's the highest of the state's alert levels for COVID-19 infections. Meanwhile, another eastern Connecticut town, Andover, is in the “orange alert zone,” the second-highest zone, with an infection rate between 10 to 14 cases per 100,000 population. Eight communities are now in the third-highest alert zone.

Meanwhile, the state's vaccination rate continues to grow. Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont said it was “encouraging” to see the rate increase by 7% since last week. Currently, slightly more than 50% of children age 12-15 have received at least one shot. Statewide, 2.3 million residents have received at least one dose while 2.1 million are fully vaccinated.