COVID 19 Update, May 20, 2022 — Latest Wave Hits Wilton; Schools “Recommend” Masks

GOOD Morning Wilton‘s last COVID-19 Update was on March 4, 2022. It was just a few days after the Wilton Public School district had downgraded from a mandatory mask-wearing policy to “mask optional,” and we titled the article, “Wilton Students: “Being able to see smiles, people love that!”

Fast forward a little over two months, and there’s not nearly as much to smile about.

On March 3, Wilton’s two-week average daily case rate was 11.7; as of May 14, it’s five times as high, at 56.9. [GOOD Morning Wilton‘s more current numbers as of May 19 show the rate even higher, at 67.9 cases per 100,000 people — see the graph in the main image, above.]

March 3, 2022
Two-week rolling average Daily New Case Count (per 100,000 people) on March 3, 2022. (map: CT DPH)
May 19, 2022
Two-week rolling average Daily New Case Count (per 100,000 people) on May 19, 2022. (map: CT DPH)

Since March 4, Wilton has reported 408 more positive cases, passing the 3,000th case benchmark earlier this month, and no additional new deaths.

Current vaccination data from the CT Department of Public Health show that 96.1% of Wilton’s total population has received one dose, 86.9% have received two doses, and 54.9% have gotten an additional dose.

Of eligible residents, 99.03% have started the vaccination course, 89.53% have gotten a second dose, and 56.6% of all those eligible have received a booster.

Here’s how it breaks down by age:

Of note, late Thursday evening, May 19, the Centers for Disease Control announced that the agency’s director has signed off on the C.D.C. advisers’ recommendation of Pfizer vaccine boosters for children aged 5-11. With the director’s sign-off, those children are immediately eligible to receive an additional dose.

Test positivity rates have climbed, both in Wilton and across the state. As of Thursday, May 19, Wilton’s two-week average test positivity rate was at 13.45%, a sharp increase from 2.9% on March 4. Statewide, the test positivity rate is at 14%, and 369 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, an increase of 78 in the last week.

Hearst CT Media cites The New York Times data putting Connecticut at the second highest rate of new COVID-19 cases in the country.

“Mask Recommended” in Certain Situations in Wilton Schools

It’s not surprising that the COVID case count has also been rising in the schools. Up until the return from Spring Break on April 25, Superintendent Kevin Smith was sending weekly COVID updates to the school community, and the case counts in the schools were relatively low: for instance there were 17 new cases reported in the seven days between March 17-24, and 22 new cases the week after.

Officials started to see a rise in the case counts as April progressed, compounded by Spring Break, when some families traveled and others socialized or engaged in group activities. When school resumed on April 25, Smith began sending daily updates as the district started seeing rising daily new case counts of 15, 22 and the like. By May 11, on a day when officials received word of 28 new one-day cases, there were 74 students and 15 teachers who were COVID-positive and isolating. There were 27 new cases the next day, May 12.

Just this past Monday, May 16, the district announced 66 new cases had been reported over the weekend, and there were 88 students and 23 teachers confirmed positive and isolated; Tuesday, May 17 added 23 new cases.

Smith sounded hopeful when he gave a COVID update to the Board of Education on Thursday evening, May 19, saying the district had had a “tough couple of weeks [with] numbers [that] have increased week over week. If there is any good news this week, it looks like at least from Monday to today, numbers are waning again,” he said.

Smith said that the State Department of Public Health (CT-DPH) was not recommending any changes in safety or mitigation protocols at this time. Independent of any directive from the CT-DPH or State Department of Education, however, the district now recommends mask wearing “at school-sponsored indoor evening and weekend events… [including] concerts, orientations, closing houses, and awards ceremonies.”

“I’ve noted in the last seven or eight days a pretty significant rise in masking among our students, especially here [at the high school]. Kids have a lot of end of year events, and so I think people are taking as many safety precautions as they can to protect themselves,” Smith said, adding that the district continues to be “in a monitoring phase.”

“We encourage people to, if they’re eligible, get vaccinated, continue to test — we have boxes and boxes of at home tests that we can provide to people if they need them. And we would just encourage people to continue to monitor symptoms and stay home if they have any symptoms. We’re going to hope for a downward turn,” Smith added.