Vanderslice COVID-19 Update April 30: Clarifying Wilton’s Unemployment & Death Data

First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice with a town social distancing sign.

In her nightly update for April 30, First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice clarified information the state has provided on several data points for Wilton–specifically unemployment figures and fatalities due to COVID-19 that have been reported.

Unemployment

On Wednesday, April 29, the state released unemployment figures stretching back to 2015 with preliminary data that showed almost 650 initial unemployment claims had been filed in Wilton since Feb. 24 and the start of the coronavirus crisis. Vanderslice noted that those “preliminary and incomplete” Wilton unemployment numbers only included initial unemployment claims filed in Connecticut–and thus the jobless rate in town is likely much higher. “They do not include initial claims filed by Connecticut residents employed in New York or another state. Those additional claims are not available,” she wrote.

The state did have one update for unemployment filings:  Thursday, the CT Department of Labor launched the system for self-employed residents to apply for unemployment.

Case, testing & fatality data

Vanderslice detailed Thursday’s data released by the CT Department of Public Health. She noted that “good news continues with more declines in hospitalizations, both statewide and in Fairfield County. Statewide hospitalizations, meaning the number of Coronavirus patients hospitalized, are down by 41 to 1,650. In Fairfield County, the number is down by 26 to 565.”

In total, CT DPH reports 27,700 laboratory-confirmed statewide cases with 11,294 or 41% in Fairfield County and 156 in Wilton; 462 cases have not yet been assigned to a municipality. The three-day increase in Fairfield County cases is slightly lower than the previous three-day increase. Deaths rose to 2,390 statewide and to 810 in Fairfield County.

Vanderslice remarked on the 31 Coronavirus deaths in Wilton being reported by the state.

“This is 11 more than those on record with the Town Clerk for the 48-day period from March 13 through today. There are a number of possible reasons for the discrepancy, as in order to produce timely data, the state is receiving data from multiple sources, not the traditional reporting process. During that same time period there is a slight dip in Wilton’s non-Coronavirus mortality rate. The State is performing testing post mortem and identifying asymptomatic cases. This might account for the dip. Wilton’s per capita rate is reflective of our higher number of nursing and senior facilities versus some neighboring communities, as the ages for those who have died ranged from 69 to 96,” she wrote.

Thursday the Governor provided updated reporting on nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Vanderslice suggested that the data may reflect a “misclassification between the two types of facilities for Wilton.” For Wilton, all case numbers have been attributed to Wilton Meadows; its partner assisted-living facility, the Greens at Cannondale, does not appear on the state’s list of assisted living facilities. It’s unclear which cases might be from which of the two facilities.

Vanderslice noted that the state did recently inspect Wilton Meadows:  “the State recently favorably inspected [it],” she wrote.

Vanderslice added that the risk for COVID-19 infections for such facilities is higher than it is for the general public.

“Nursing and assisted living facilities and their residents are by their nature at higher risk due to residents’ ages and underlying health conditions, a high level of physical contact to perform required services, and their density. As previously shared, the Wilton Health Department has assisted these facilities with training and recommendations as to procedures and by providing protective equipment and nursing staff, where needed.

The state is increasing its support of nursing homes soon, as well. According to Vanderslice, “With testing materials more readily available, nursing homes will begin testing of employees and residents to identify both active and asymptomatic Coronavirus cases. Identifying those who are asymptomatic is critical, as they unknowingly can spread the virus.”

Norwalk River Fishing

In other updates, Vanderslice reported that CT DEEP reached out to Wilton Environmental officials to inform the town that it will resume stocking fish in the Norwalk River. Vanderslice encouraged residents to add it to the list of activities they could enjoy.

“Fishing is a sport for the whole family and one that lends itself to social distancing. Information is available on the Town’s Environmental Affairs Department webpages or reach out to Director Mike Conklin, an avid fisherman himself.  As many employees are working from home, email is the best means of communication.