As COVID cases rise, West Hartford mayor says ‘we’re at a critical point’

George Robinson, of Danbury, has his vitals taken by Courtney Cass, right, for a coronavirus test at AFC Urgent Care on Main Street in Danbury, Conn, Thursday, April 23, 2020. Robinson has had two prior tests return positive and was getting his third test after isolating at home for over two weeks.

WEST HARTFORD — With COVID-19 cases on the rise, Mayor Shari Cantor said Friday that “we’re at a critical point.”

On the state’s COVID-19 data tracker map, swaths of red cover almost all of Connecticut — indicating the highest alert level for a case rate metric. And West Hartford — one of the many municipalities in the red — has tacked on its own 383 cases in a two-week span that started Nov. 22, state data showed.

In last week’s town council meeting, town manager Matt Hart said the latest state data available at that point showed West Hartford had 31.5 daily cases per 100,000 residents over a two-week span.

“I think that’s the highest it's been since the state began utilizing that statistic,” he said in the meeting.

Since then, that metric has been recorded even higher. On Friday, the state’s COVID-19 data tracker showed that rate — which is calculated using two weeks of data — at 43.5. Local district data showed that metric at 37.34, based on information from Nov. 22 to Dec. 5 tracked “by test date.”

“So our numbers obviously are increasing,” West Hartford-Bloomfield Health District Director Aimee Krauss said Thursday. “We’re higher now than we were in the spring.”

With colder weather creeping in and more holidays ahead, Cantor emphasized the importance of following the COVID safety guidelines.

“And we really, really need to listen to the experts, we need to physically distance, we need to wear masks, we need to wash our hands,” she told the West Hartford News. “But we really have to observe the not getting together and entertaining during this holiday season, period, or we’re gonna see continued spread and stress on our health care system.”

A vaccine has received emergency use approval, but there’s still time yet until large portions of the population will be inoculated. At this point, the state intends to follow a phased approach: one that occurs when it initially gets the vaccine, another from January to May and another from June to December, according to its website.

Krauss said they’ve bought “new equipment” to prepare for the vaccine’s arrival.

“So, we’ve purchased scanners, and so the scanners will be able to scan the vaccine and people will have to register once we move into more of our public clinics,” she said.

That scanning keeps tabs on who receives the vaccine, Krauss confirmed, enabling a reminder to be sent later to flag for the recipient that they’ll need a second dose.

Krauss encouraged residents to keep tabs on the town’s website for information about where people can get vaccinated once it’s available.

By the end of the month, Connecticut anticipates getting “roughly 180,000 doses of the vaccine,” according to the state website. Krauss said she’s been advised it wouldn’t be long following a vaccine getting approval for emergency use that they’d be sent out.

“There’s just a lot of unknowns still as far as how much we will be getting at the local level, because again, health care workers, long-term care facility residents and medical first responders, you know, will be getting that, that vaccine,” Krauss said Thursday.

With rising COVID-19 levels, Krauss reaffirmed the need for people to adhere to public safety guidance.

“It is alarming that our numbers are going up this quickly,” she said. “Again, I am asking people to follow the sector guidelines, to follow the messages from the governor’s office … I want people to not get sick, I want people to enjoy the holidays, but we need to be safe. So to limit social gatherings is gonna be key.”

Connecticut Media Group