On Tuesday, Jan. 19, a grim day nationally that saw the U.S. pass 400,000 COVID-related deaths, Gov. Ned Lamont reported more positive news for Connecticut at his press briefing. In addition to “relatively better [case] numbers,” he also announced that the state could begin giving vaccines to people age 65-74 as soon as early February.

Case Numbers:  State Improves, Wilton Still High

As for the day’s case numbers, Lamont said that fewer one-day COVID cases were diagnosed on Monday, Jan. 18 than in previous days. The positivity rate dipped to 5.65%, lowering the 7-day average down to 5.3%–the lowest it’s been since early December.

Lamont was upbeat that better numbers were also trending elsewhere.

“I’m happy that it’s not just CT–RI, MA and even NY are stabilizing or even bending the curve a little bit, and that makes an enormous difference,” he said.

Hospitalizations have also been relatively stable–Lamont said that at 1,141 patients currently hospitalized in CT, the state has hovered around the same level for 2-3 months.

“That was a key metric for me, make sure we keep capacity there–that we’re maintaining capacity in our hospitals,” Lamont said.

The trend is headed in a different direction for Wilton, however. With six new cases reported Monday, and 10 new cases announced Tuesday, the data keeps Wilton’s average daily rate (over two weeks) at 36 cases per 100,000.

In her nightly update to residents on Tuesday, First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice underscored that Wilton’s average daily rate of 36 cases/100,000 is more than twice the 15-case threshold for “red alert communities” designated by the state.

Vanderslice reminded residents that towns in that red alert zone must consider imposing additional restrictions to limit the spread of the coronavirus–for example, by limiting sports activities. “The new cases … indicated Wilton is likely to remain a red alert community for the time being,” she wrote.

Wilton Public Schools Superintendent Kevin Smith raised similar concerns in an email to the school community Tuesday. After announcing four new COVID cases at Wilton High School–(seven cases total at WHS, all of which are students)–Smith cautioned how private gatherings are making transmission of the virus easier.

“While our numbers continue to remain relatively low, I would like to note that we are observing recent trends in which transmission is connected to private gatherings. I urge members of our community to consider carefully their activities and those of their children and to limit events with others to those that are most essential. Also, as a reminder, events where others are within six feet of one another for 15 minutes or more with or without masks can put people at risk of contracting the virus,” he wrote.

Tiered Approach To Phase 1.b. Vaccine Appointments

Connecticut is currently 5th in the nation for distributing vaccines to residents–so far 220,820 total doses have been administered statewide (196,753 first doses; 24,067 second doses).

Lamont is pleased with his vaccine rollout plan so far, enough for a callout to the federal government:  “We can handle more vaccine–bring it on!”

But with nearly 1.4 million individuals jam-packed into Phase 1.b. and the state anticipating to receive only about 45,000 doses of vaccine per week from the federal government, he definitely will need more vaccines if he hopes to keep on schedule–and continue asking the public for patience.

Lamont explained to reporters at Tuesday’s briefing why the state continues to prioritize people age 75-and-older: not only did he call it “the right thing to do,” but the elderly account for more than half of all COVID-19 hospitalizations and are also dying at rates disproportionally greater than their numbers. In fact, people over age 75 make up only 8% of the population but account for 71% of the deaths; those over 65 are 18% of the population but represent 88% of COVID-related fatalities.

That statistic was one reason why people age 65-74 will be the next Phase 1.b. group getting prioritized in the state’s vaccine distribution.

“I think you can understand why this is going to be a really important priority for us,” Lamont said, pointing out that the number of fatalities drops dramatically by age group.

The state will take a tiered approach with the remaining groups in Phase 1.b. based on risk of adverse health outcomes from the virus. Lamont said the pace could accelerate if CT receives more vaccines than anticipated from the federal government, and his administration is trying to get more but it’s not something within the state’s control.

For now the Phase 1.b. schedule will proceed as follows:

  • Scheduling now: Individuals over the age of 75, remaining 2nd doses for medical/first responders in Phase 1.a.
  • Scheduling next (likely early February): Individuals between the ages of 65 and 74; more specifics will be available in the next 10 days
  • Scheduling soon (likely late February or early March): Frontline essential workers and individuals with underlying medical conditions who have an increased risk for severe illness
  • May:  Phase 1.c.
  • June:  Phase 2

The roll-out of the vaccine to staff and residents of congregate living settings will be phased in alongside Phase 1.b.

More information about the definitions of frontline essential workers and the list of eligible underlying medical conditions will be made available in the next several weeks.

Don’t Cut the Line for Vaccines

State and local officials are asking anyone who registered for an appointment despite not yet being eligible under the CT Vaccine Distribution Plan (member of Phase 1.a. or aged 75 and up) to cancel that appointment.

This is being done in order to ensure that Connecticut’s focus on individuals over the age of 75 is maintained.

How to Register, for Individuals 75-and-Up

Wilton officials have posted information on the town website to help individuals 75-years-and-older register for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment.

The CT Department of Public Health also has a special webpage just for residents 75 and up.

Appointments may be made either by phone or online.

  • Phone:
    • The phone option is only available for Wilton residents who are age 75 and up.
    • (If someone younger is helping a resident aged 75 and up, they are asked not to use the phone option.)
    • The state-sponsored phone number to call is 877.918.2224. Phone service is available from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. There is a callback feature. Patients should expect delays.
  • Online:
    • Registration and appointments are made through the CDC’s VAMS system. Some important tips:
      • Applicants must have an email to register.
      • Enter email addresses in lower case.
      • When asked if the applicant has registered for the vaccine, they are asking if you have an appointment. Answer ‘no’.
      • Anyone who schedules an appointment online and subsequently needs to change the date or time must first cancel the original appointment and then reschedule. Anyone who can’t make an appointment should cancel in advance–even a last-minute cancellation will allow someone else to receive the vaccine.

Anyone with questions or who needs help with the registration process can contact Wilton’s Social Services Department. Reach out to Director of Social Services Sarah Heath or Social Services/Senior Center Coordinator Stephanie Rowe.

Wilton Social Services has also recorded a video tutorial on how to apply online.

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