BRIDGEPORT - Gov. Ned Lamont said Friday that Connecticut still has "a long way to go" to improve COVID-19 vaccination rates among Black and Hispanic residents, as new data show white people in the state are getting inoculated at higher rates.
Lamont appeared with Black clergy members at a news conference at St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport to try to convince people the vaccines are safe and effective. Several church leaders received vaccinations Friday.
"We have a long way to go," the Democratic governor said. "We're doing better than we did two weeks ago, but not good enough."
New data released by the state Thursday shows 39% of white state residents ages 65 and older have received the first of two shots of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, compared with 21% of Black residents and 27% of Hispanic residents 65 and older.
More than 550,000 of the state's 3.6 million residents have received their first doses, while another 288,000 have been fully vaccinated.
State and local officials and vaccine providers have taken a variety of steps to try to bridge the racial gap, including working with Black religious leaders, sending out mobile vaccination clinics and opening mass vaccination sites.
In other coronavirus-related news:
The Connecticut Department of Public Health announced Friday that an additional 21 confirmed cases of the so-called U.K. variant have been identified in Connecticut, bringing the total to 63.
The specimens for the newly identified cases were collected between Feb. 3-17 and the infected individuals range in age from 5 to 80 years. They come from Bridgeport, Guildford, Hamden, Meriden, New Haven, Stamford, Wallingford and West Haven. New Haven had the largest number of cases, reporting 12.
Scientists say the U.K. variant spreads more easily and is likely more deadly, but so far existing vaccines appear to be effective against it.
Data released Friday show the number of confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases in Connecticut grew by 787 since Thursday while the number of hospitalizations declined by 34, to a total of 451 patients across the state. The number of deaths increased by eight to 7,622.