When the Connecticut Department of Public Health released its weekly COVID-19 Alert Map on Thursday, Nov. 12, Wilton was listed as one of the 100 cities and towns in the state that are now in the red zone alert level, the highest of the state’s four alert levels.
It’s something that, along with a hefty portion of the town’s public safety employees having to quarantine, may prompt officials to consider reintroducing more restrictions.
The red zone indicates municipalities that have an average daily COVID-19 case rate over the last two weeks of greater than 15 per 100,000 population. The orange zone indicates those that have case rates between 10 to 14 cases per 100,000 population. The yellow zone indicates municipalities that have case rates between 5 and 9 per 100,000 population, and those indicated in gray have case rates lower than five per 100,000 population.
The state’s map shows rates for the period of Oct 25-Nov. 7. The state does not include residents living in nursing or assisted living facilities in its numbers. According to the state, as of Nov. 7, Wilton’s rate was 16.7, comprised of 14 cases during the week of Oct. 25-31 and 29 cases during the week of Nov. 1-7.
GOOD Morning Wilton has charted the town’s daily cases beyond Nov. 7, using the most current figures released as of Nov. 11. We also don’t separate out residents of nursing or assisted living facilities. As a result, our numbers are slightly higher than the state’s. But the trajectory is the same, showing the sharp rise in cases over the last three weeks in Wilton.
First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice isn’t optimistic about what the trend shows, and hopes that Wilton’s red alert status and last week’s 29 cases will motivate residents to follow recommendations regarding mask-wearing, avoiding gatherings and limiting in-person contact with non-household members.
“None of us want to return to the restrictions of the spring, but it is clear at the rate we are going, it will likely happen. It is up to residents and their behavior as to how fast and for how long that occurs,” she warned.
In her nightly update, she listed the state’s recommendations for red zone municipalities:
- Town: Cancel public events and limit community gathering points.
- Schools: Consider distance learning if above 25.
- Organizations: Postpone all indoor activities. Postpone outdoor activities where mask-wearing or social distancing cannot be maintained.
- Individuals: Limit trips outside the home. Avoid gatherings with non-family members.
As of now she hasn’t made any changes but says that residents’ behavior will determine what actions the Town will take. Vanderslice pointed to activity on the Norwalk River Valley Trail as an example, noting that she walked the trail last weekend and saw several people who were not wearing masks and reminded people to stay to the right and single file when passing others.
“We continue to monitor and will restrict access, if these simple restrictions aren’t followed.”
Police & Firefighters in Quarantine
An additional impact of the spiking case rates is the large number of Wilton police officers and firefighters who were forced to quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19. Recently, police and fire staffing was down 25% due to quarantining. The numbers can grow quickly, Vanderslice warned, with a significant impact on the town.
“Police and fire officers [are] experiencing increasing required overtime to cover for those quarantined. Those additional hours mean more opportunity for exposure for those officers, additional costs for the Town, and potential burnout,” Vanderslice wrote.
The public safety departments didn’t experience this same level of exposure during the pandemic’s first surge last spring, as most residents were staying home. Vanderslice said residents can help limit the exposure on town safety officers.
“Reduce required responses by following the law and being smart about your personal property. Don’t be that guy or gal driving 45 or 50 mph on local roads. With fewer cars on the road, drivers are driving faster than ever, leading to calls for enforcement and accidents. Lock your vehicles. Police are still responding to thefts of or within unlocked cars. Thieves continue to target Wilton because residents make it easy,” she suggested.
As of Wednesday, Nov. 11, Wilton had four new cases reported and one new fatality.
- Wilton: 4 new cases reported. 359 cases YTD.
- Statewide: 1,158 new cases. 4.82% of new tests reported were positive. 85,899 cases YTD
- Fairfield County: 277 new cases. 29,008 cases YTD.
- Hospitalized Patients: Statewide, 617 with a 33-net patient increase. Fairfield County, 163, with a 7-net patient increase.
- Deaths: Statewide, 4726, with an increase of 10. Fairfield County, 1455, with an increase of 4. Wilton, 43, with an increase of one.
Known Wilton cases ranged from age 12 to 46.
In addition, there was a new COVID-positive case reported in the school district’s Genesis program.