COVID-19 Update Nov. 16: New Wilton School Cases; CT’s New Exposure Notification App; Lamont in Quarantine

New Cases in Wilton Public Schools; New Cases in Wilton

After announcing three more cases in the Wilton Public Schools on Friday, Nov. 13Superintendent Kevin Smith informed the school community that he will begin sending out only one notification per day whenever there are new cases diagnosed in the district. The single email will be sent at 6 p.m. in lieu of multiple notifications throughout the day for each case. Any cases that are reported to administrators after 6 p.m. will be included in the next day’s notice.

The communication streamlining is an acknowledgment that cases are on the rise, Smith said, and that the district is now receiving “multiple reports of new cases daily.”

Each of Friday’s three new cases was reported at a different school: one at Wilton High School, one at Middlebrook School, and one at Cider Mill School. Smith recommended that all members of the three schools’ communities should self-monitor for symptoms in the event that they came in contact with a person who came in contact with the COVID-positive individual, advising that self-monitoring includes taking a temperature every morning and every evening.

Although cases have continued to rise, Smith said there are no plans yet to change any learning models. Cider Mill and Miller-Driscoll School are operating on a four-day in-person model for all students, while Middlebrook and WHS are currently in the hybrid model.

The district is keeping the status quo because officials don’t believe virus is spreading in school–helped by the aggressive quarantine policy that requires self-isolation for individuals who are COVID-positive, family members of people who test COVID-positive, as well as anyone who came in close contact with someone who is COVID-positive.

“To the best of our understanding, it does not appear that these cases were a result of in-school transmission. We continue to see a trend of recent cases resulting from participation in youth athletics or from family transmission,” Smith reiterated.

Last week, State Department of Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona said he was leaving the decision to remain open or to close to individual districts.

Wilton Cases as of Friday, Nov. 13

On Friday, Nov. 13, the CT Department of Public Health reported that there were nine new cases in Wilton.

  • Wilton:  9 new cases reported; 368 cases since the beginning of the pandemic
  • Statewide2,746 new cases. According to Gov. Lamont, this was the highest number of cases reported in a single day since the start of the pandemic. 6.37% of new tests reported were positive.  88,645 cases since the beginning of the pandemic
  • Fairfield County 834 new cases.  29,842 cases since the beginning of the pandemic
  • Hospitalized PatientsStatewide659 with a 42-net patient increase. Fairfield County163, with a 11-net patient increase.
  • DeathsStatewide, 4,737, with an increase of 11.  Fairfield County, 1,454, with a decrease of 1.  Wilton, 43, with no change

The known Wilton cases ranged in age from 15 to 60. Approximately 33% of all Wilton residents have had at least one Coronavirus test.

Covid Act Now reported that as of Sunday, Nov. 15, CT had reached a “dangerous” rate of new cases statewide, at 42.2 cases per 100,000.  For Fairfield County, that number was even higher, at 51.6 cases per 100,000. For comparison:

  • Florida: 25.3 cases/100,000
  • Texas: 35.9 cases/100,000
  • Wisconsin: 113.0 cases/100,000
  • North Dakota: 181.3 cases/100,000
  • California: 19.6 cases/100,000

Gov. Lamont in Quarantine

Gov. Ned Lamont began a 14-day quarantine after one of his top aides, communication director, Max Reiss, tested positive for COVID-19. Other senior members of Lamont’s administration are also self-isolating.

Lamont’s chief of staff, Paul Mounds, announced the news of the administration’s first case on Friday evening (Nov. 13), which occurred despite the strict precautions the governor and aides have taken, including twice-weekly testing.

According to the CT Mirror, Mounds said, “Even in an administration with consistent testing of all individuals who interact with the governor on a regular basis and wear masks at all times, this is a reminder that no testing regimen is fool-proof. As we continue to see positive cases, test positivity, and hospitalizations rise in Connecticut, this is a clear reminder that everyone must continue to take proper steps to mitigate the spread of the virus. We must continue to wear masks, socially distance and avoid large gatherings.”

The governor will continue his COVID press briefings despite being quarantined, either in his private Greenwich home or the governor’s residence in Hartford.

CT Introduces COVID Alert CT Smartphone Notification App

On Thursday, Nov. 12, Connecticut launched COVID Alert CT, a smartphone-based notification app that anonymously notifies users if they have come into close proximity of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes.

More than 300,000 users activated COVID Alert CT on their mobile devices as of Friday, Nov. 13.

The app is available on Apple and Android devices. The smartphone feature uses Bluetooth to anonymously notify users if they have come into close proximity of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes.

For Android devices, COVID Alert CT comes in the form of an app that users must download from Google Play and install on their device.

For Apple devices, the feature is already installed on all devices operating iOS 13.7 or later but must be manually turned on by the user in order to function. To activate this feature, Apple users must go to Settings, select Exposure Notifications, and then select Turn On Exposure Notifications. From there, users should select United States and then Connecticut. (Instructions on downloading the app are available online.)

All information is secure and private, and the app will never reveal who the user is to anyone else.

Here’s how it works:

  • Once installed, the app uses Bluetooth to sense whether a user’s device has been within 6 feet of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more in one day–without sharing any personal information.
  • If a user has been near another person who has tested positive and is also using the app on their personal device, an alert will be triggered notifying the user that they may have been exposed to COVID-19.
  • A notification will not be triggered if two devices in this scenario are just passing by for a short duration or stay more than 6 feet away from each other.

If a user tests positive:

  • A contact tracer from the Connecticut Department of Public Health, their local health department, or their higher education institution will ask them if they are willing to share the “close contact” codes their app has logged while they may have been contagious.
  • If the user agrees, a contract tracer will provide them with a verification code.
  • Once that code is submitted through the user’s app, those individuals who came within 6 feet of that user for more than 15 minutes and who also are using the app will receive a notification on their device that they were in close contact with someone with COVID-19.
  • Sharing this status is secure and private. The app will never reveal who the user is to anyone else.

The governor explained that this app is not a replacement for the state’s contact tracing system, but can supplement it in an incredibly helpful way. When people test positive in Connecticut, they are directed to get in touch with a contact tracer.

“This app is another tool to make sure that every resident of our state has what they need to combat this pandemic from the ground up,” Lamont said. “This app also complements–but doesn’t replace–our broader contact tracing program, which is an invaluable resource in combating the pandemic and ensuring those who need it have the tools necessary to self-isolate or quarantine.”

“Contact tracing is a critical part of the public health response to COVID-19,” Connecticut’s Acting Public Health Commissioner Dr. Deidre Gifford said. “Any effort to supplement that program could be a crucial step in stopping the spread of the virus. If even one person is in touch with a contact tracer and discusses their contacts for the past 14 days, it could result in a chain reaction that stops dozens or more from getting infected.”

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