Wilton COVID-19 Update April 22: Why Doesn’t Town Provide Info on COVID Deaths? And Other Questions

First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice issued her nightly update on the town’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic for Wednesday, April 22. She led off with answers to questions she has received from residents.

  • “Will the Town be providing more identifying information about Wilton patients and deaths? Patient data is protected by federal HIPPA laws. Information provided to Wilton’s Health Director is regulated as to distribution and is not public. If through contact tracing you have been identified as coming into contact with a patient, you will be notified by the Wilton Health Department.
  • “Why isn’t the number of Wilton deaths included in the daily update? As we have repeatedly stated, we are cautious about the accuracy of case data. We are more uncertain about the number of deaths reported, as we have no way to fact check or determine their reasonableness. I report daily data to help residents be informed. I would rather provide no data versus data in which I am not confident and which could be misleading.
  • “Are in-home services, such as barbers, hairdressing, tennis instruction, or personal training allowed under the Governor’s Executive Orders? Only services classified as essential are allowed to operate. None of these services are classified as essential and cannot be provided, even in a private or in-home setting.
  • “How does Connecticut’s share of tested population compare to other states? What is Connecticut’s testing plan?  Connecticut has historically lagged surrounding states in testing due to shortages of PPE and test kits.  As reported in an April 17th NYTimes article, Connecticut had a 7-day average daily test rate per 100,000 residents of 85 per day.  NYS was 118, Rhode Island 185 and Massachusetts 92. Yesterday, the Governor announced a partnership with Quest Diagnostics and HartfordHealthCare that could result in up to an 80% increase in daily testing.  On today’s call with the Governor and his leadership team, we were told the State is developing a plan to further ramp up of testing. Details were not available at this time.
  • Westport has announced they are using a drone to monitor social distancing. Is this being done in Wilton?  If not, is drone use being considered?  We are not using a drone to monitor behavior, nor do we have any plan to do so.
Data and case numbers

With news that the number of positive COVID-19 cases in Wilton jumped from 119 to 135 (along with other indicators showing large jumps as well), Vanderslice said that part of the reason had to do with inefficient reporting.

“Today, we learned there was a lag in reporting from one lab that services Fairfield County.  As a result, mid-Fairfield County communities experienced one-day, double-digit percentage increases in cases, ranging from Norwalk at 41% to Ridgefield at 12%. Wilton increased 13%,” she said.

Lags in reporting and data tabulation was also cited by Gov. Ned Lamont in his daily press briefing when he noted the state was playing “catch-up” in logging numbers. Vanderslice listed those numbers in her update, noting that there was also a large uptick in the number of cases reported in Bridgeport, which may also explain the jump in case numbers for Fairfield County.

“Today, the CT Department of Public Health reports 22,469 laboratory-confirmed statewide cases with 9,883 or 44% in Fairfield County and 135 in Wilton. Approximately 2.4% of total reported cases have not yet been assigned to a municipality. Today’s test positive rate increased to 37%. Currently 1.96% of the State’s population has been tested. Deaths rose by 121 to 1,544 with Fairfield County at 584. The number of patients currently hospitalized increased by 23 to 1,972 with an increase of 14 in Fairfield County to 749. Patients hospitalized statewide are at their highest level, though the Fairfield County total is less than the levels on April 15-18. Last week, we saw large increases in the number of cases in Bridgeport, as the virus had moved north. This may explain the increase in Fairfield County hospitalizations.”