On a day when the country broke a record with more than 120,000 COVID-19 cases, Thursday’s CT Department of Public Health daily report of coronavirus case numbers brought more alarming news, with 16 new one-day COVID-positive cases in Wilton as of Nov. 4. With 371 tests conducted, that puts the town’s positivity rate at 4.3%.
It was Wilton’s largest one-day jump in new COVID-positive cases since April, when the town was at its highest average daily case rate of the pandemic.
According to First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice, the ages of the newly diagnosed residents range in age from 2- to 45-years-old. She also noted that of the known cases, the transmission of the virus is being linked to “sports, childcare and within households.”
She noted that during a call with state officials Thursday, “CT’s DPH Commissioner stated the most significant source of statewide spread is small gatherings, including restaurant dining, private home indoor/outdoor gatherings and events.”
Vanderslice also referred to the same 14-day average daily case rate that GOOD Morning Wilton has charted, below. Wilton’s current rate is 20 cases/100,000. On Oct. 28, it was 12.5 cases/100,000. On Oct. 21, it was 6 cases/100,000.
“The spread is happening very quickly,” she said. “As was demonstrated in the spring, it takes much longer to bring down the spread than it takes to increase the spread. If you have stopped doing so, it is now critical to behave as if you have the virus and as if those around you do as well.”
Even though the current rate of cases at 20/100,000 as of Wednesday, Nov. 4 firmly puts Wilton into the red-alert category, the state currently classifies Wilton as at an ‘orange’ risk level, because the data they use to classify communities lags by several days. The state’s map shows town risk levels based on the same case rate we’re using, but as of Saturday, Oct. 31, when the case rate was approximately 14/100,000. It’s also updated only weekly.
There are 68 towns now at the red-alert level. Vanderslice pointed out, “With the exception of Weston, all lower Fairfield County communities are classified as red or orange alert. 70% of the State’s population lived in a red or orange alert community. That number would be higher if calculated as of today.”
New State Restrictions
Actions taken today by the Governor were intended to slow the current rapid–and increasing–COVID spread.
As part of the Governor’s decision made earlier this week to move back to a modified version of Phase 2, he issued Executive Order 9K effective 12:01 a.m. Friday, Nov. 6, which, among other things, reduces gathering sizes, empowers the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) commissioner to impose rules for sports and mandatory closing times and extended orders allowing outdoor dining and the sale of liquor with takeout.
The DECD Commissioner has not yet released new sector rules, but he released the following:
- Mandatory closing times: 10 p.m. seven days per week for restaurants, entertainment and recreation venues, and indoor and outdoor commercial venues. Events previously scheduled for this weekend are grandfathered.
- Restaurants: No more than eight persons per table; up to 50% capacity with 6-ft. distancing.
- Private resident-gathering size: Capped at 10 indoors and outdoors
- Commercial venue-gathering size: Capped at 25 indoors and 50 outdoors
- Sports: The rules are not yet available, but according to Vanderslice’s account of her call with the state guidance is expected to apply to club, recreational and interscholastic sports. “We are expecting suspension of high-risk sports on all levels, mask-wearing at all times for ice hockey and basketball, and interstate competition only allowed for low-risk sports.”
While it’s not mandatory, the CT DPH Commissioner advised residents to voluntarily stay at home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless going to work, shopping for groceries, or going to medical appointments.
The Commissioner recommended, but did not mandate:
- Those over age 60 and anyone with a chronic disease or obesity who are at higher risk for complications of COVID-19 should take extra precautions and limit non-essential trips outside the home.
- Employers allow work-from-home as much as possible
- Non-essential social or community gatherings of any size for any reason (e.g., parties, community meetings, celebrations or other social events) end by 9:30 p.m. or otherwise be canceled or postponed at this time
- Everyone maintain at least a 6-foot distance from those who do not live with you
- Everyone wear a mask whenever leaving home and wear a mask inside the home if someone from outside the household is visiting
- Clean hands frequently using soap and water, hand sanitizer, or isopropyl alcohol wipes. Washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds works best. Avoid touching the face
- Families and loved ones should limit visitation to long term care facilities.
Ramped Up Testing
In response to increased demand, CT DPH is working with healthcare partners to open up new testing sites across the state and particularly in areas with red alerts. Vanderslice said this will include the Wilton area.