COVID-19 Update Dec. 22: Vaccine Changes, Biz Assistance & Education Commissioner Goes National

One of Monday’s biggest news stories related to COVID-19 wasn’t actually virus or vaccine-related. It’s being widely reported today that Connecticut’s Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona is likely to be the next Secretary of Education. CNN reports that President-Elect Joe Biden is hoping to reopen most U.S. schools within the first 100 days of his administration, and Cardona has been instrumental in keeping Connecticut schools open despite the pandemic this school year.

In addition, Biden has said he wants to nominate a teacher for the role of Education Secretary–a requirement Cardona, a former elementary school teacher and principal, also checks off.

Vaccine Distribution

First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice updated Wilton residents in her nightly email about the new guidance for vaccine distribution issued by the CDC. Phase 1 has been expanded into three phases–Phase 1.a, Phase 1.b. and Phase 1.c.

  • Those qualified under Phase 1.a. (frontline medical workers, and nursing home/senior living residents and employees), which is occurring now, did not change.
  • Phase 1.b. was reduced to include frontline essential workers and those aged 75 and up.
  • The new Phase 1.c. included other essential workers, those aged 65 and up and those aged 16-64 with high-risk medical conditions.

According to Vanderslice, Gov. Ned Lamont indicated Connecticut is expected to generally follow the CDC guidance.

Also Monday, the governor announced 7,761 doses of the vaccine have been administered. Shipments with 63,300 doses of the Moderna vaccine and 24,375 doses of the Pfizer vaccine are expected to be received in Connecticut throughout this week. That means a two-week total of 118,875 vaccines or 56% of the doses expected to be adminstered during Phase 1.a. The total is 6,125 short of the earlier estimate of 125,000 vaccines over the two-week period. Federal officials announced their preliminary estimates for the Pfizer vaccine shipments were overstated.

The CDC released a web-based Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS) to assist local public health agencies, medical providers and other vaccine administrators that traditionally did not have vaccination management software. The system supports vaccine planning and administration. Both the Wilton Health Department and Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Fairfield County have signed up for the system.

Business Recovery Grants

Also Monday, the governor announced $35 million in business recovery grants. The program is meant to target the hardest-hit small to mid-size businesses. Approximately 1,500 to 2,000 businesses can expect to receive grants of $10,000-$30,000 prior to the end of the year. Businesses are not required to submit an application. The DECD will determine the businesses to receive the grants. The smallest businesses, which received assistance in October through that $50 million small business program, will not be eligible for these grants.

Case Numbers (Since Friday, Dec. 18)

  • Wilton: 10 new cases reported over the weekend; 571 cases total
  • Statewide:
    • 4,595 new cases
    • 5.18% tests positivity rate
    • 167,377 cases total so far
    • 95 new deaths, 5,676 year-to-date
    • 1,143 current hospitalizations, with a 24-net patient decrease
  • Fairfield County:
    • 1,103 new cases 
    • 51,717 total cases so far
    • 19 new deaths, 1,647 year-to-date
    • 285 current hospitalizations, with a 5-net patient increase

According to Vanderslice, growth in cases has decreased versus the post-Thanksgiving surge.

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    • We are in the process of putting all that information together. We hope to have more in the next day or two.

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