As of Friday, Aug. 21, the CT Department of Public Health (DPH) reported three new COVID cases in Wilton, bringing the total of COVID-positive cases in town since the start of the pandemic to 247. That increase reflects a four-case rise over two days, something that First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice remarked on as “unusual,” and cautioned that, “With school starting in two weeks, we can’t let our guard down.”
The news also comes just as the DPH on Friday evening issued a “COVID-19 alert” for Danbury after a “significant increase in cases in the last two weeks”–178 new cases between Aug. 2-20. The spike in cases was a sharp increase over the previous two-week period when only 40 new cases were recorded.
“This is a serious outbreak in Danbury and we really need an all hands on deck approach. We need everyone in Danbury to take extreme precaution,” said Acting Public Health Commissioner Deidre S. Gifford, MD MPH, said.
Vanderslice noted that the Danbury outbreak was related to recent domestic and international travel, and she reminded Wilton residents of what the travel restrictions are:
“Connecticut is requiring anyone traveling to the state from many other U.S. states to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. In addition, the CDC recommends anyone returning from international travel from countries with wide-spread transmission of COVID-19 to self-quarantine for the same period of time,” she wrote in her update to residents on Aug. 21.
She also revealed that Wilton’s test positivity rate was now at 8.1% (rate of positive results of all tests performed).
In her update, she Vanderslice reiterated her pleas for town residents to follow guidelines and rules, and linked such behavior to the potential for success of opening schools and helping the state’s economy.
“Please follow the rules adopted to keep everyone safe. If you travel from an affected state or Puerto Rico or the Virgin Island, please self-quarantine for 14 days. Please, set the example. Please wear a mask when appropriate. Please teach your children to move back if someone without a mask gets too close. Please, don’t do things that undermine everyone’s efforts, such as allowing children to climb over the barriers to access playground equipment. Please be respectful to town and school employees working to keep us all safe,” she wrote.
She added, “Children need to be in school not only for their educational, social and emotional benefit, but also so parents can work. Having Connecticut schools open is critical to Connecticut’s economy.”
Altice Outages, Eversource Proceedings and Wilton’s Small Victories
Vanderslice said that she got a commitment from the Chairman and CEO of Altice USA “that his team would focus ASAP on Wilton’s outages and downed wires.” She promised to “stay on top of the situation.”
She also noted that earlier last week the Town filed a motion with the Public Utility Regulatory Agency (PURA) to be a participant in their investigation of Eversource’s response to Tropical Storm Iasias. In addition, the Town has been designated an Intervenor in the investigation proceedings being conducted by PURA. As such, the Town is allowed to submit evidence, put forward interrogatories, receive data and information files by the other Parties and Intervenors, and file briefs.
Another motion Wilton filed was to request that PURA impose statutory sanctions and/or penalties on Eversource. PURA informed town officials that their proceedings have been designated as a “contested case” and that they may level civil penalties in a subsequent contested case.
Vanderslice also reported asking Connecticut’s Commissioner of Economic and Community Development, David Lehman, a question about “What, if anything, is the State doing to improve broadband in Connecticut?” She said he replied that “there is a state task force, but he acknowledged the task force requires greater urgency and focus,” and that he also “noted the need for funding for public/private partnerships to move the effort forward.”
“In late 2019, the State Legislature passed a bill that allowed for the formation of the Governor’s 5G Council in an effort to facilitate and accelerate the buildout of a statewide 5G network. They do not appear to have met since January. The pandemic appears to have diverted focus away from these efforts.
“The industry is focused on building out infrastructure for 5G services, which could serve as a substitute for traditional wired broadband.”