Danbury Residents Urged To Get Tested, Help Contact Tracers

AP
August 26, 2020 - 10:42 am
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DANBURY, Conn. (WTIC and AP) - State and local officials on Tuesday urged residents of Danbury to get tested for COVID-19 and pick up the phone when a contact tracer calls, saying it's crucial to stopping the current “uptick” of cases in the western Connecticut city from turning into a “runaway freight train.”

Mayor Mark Boughton, a Republican, said state and local officials are relying on contact tracing and stepped-up testing at nursing homes and throughout the community to help stop further spread. The city has also taken other steps, such as asking churches to hold virtual rather than in-person religious services and delaying plans for in-person learning at the public schools until at least Oct. 1.

The city, which borders New York, has been seeing a rolling average of 22 new daily cases per 100,000 people. That represents a roughly 6-7% infection rate, officials said. Statewide, the infection rate is about 1%.

“We want to make sure that we can slow the spread, and we really only have about a week-and-a-half to do that," Boughton said. “Once a week-and-a-half goes by, if you haven’t taken the right steps, if you haven’t done the right things, it can be a runaway freight train.”

Boughton said about 1,000 people were tested over the last two days and he urged all residents to get tested, whether they have symptoms or not. The increase has been partly linked to people who've traveled both nationally and internationally, and people gathering at places of worship, athletic fields and parties.

Boughton appeared at a news conference outside city hall with Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont and a group of local lawmakers, public health and hospital officials to highlight the urgency of tamping down the spread.

State Rep. David Arconti, D-Danbury, co-chairman of the General Assembly's Energy and Technology Committee, said he's concerned the uptick in infections appears to coincide with parts of the city that were without electricity for multiple days following the recent tropical storm. Arconti said he has reached out to the Connecticut Department of Public Health to determine if there have been more COVID-19 cases in other parts of the state where electricity was knocked out for long periods, especially in densely populated neighborhoods where there may be more multi-generational households.

Lamont said that might be “a canary in a coal mine” to determine if there may be more cases in other communities.

“This is not a time to panic, but it is a time to be cautious,” Lamont said.

The governor announced Tuesday that the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection on Wednesday will close the Lattins Cove state boat launch and limit parking to 50% at the Squantz Cove state launch, both located on Candlewood Lake in Danbury, to deter mass gatherings on the lake and at the launches. DEEP said there have been numerous reports of “rafting" on the lake, where several boats are tied together. There have also been reports of large gatherings on the islands, which have been closed to the public since Aug 1.

The measures will remain in place for at least two weeks.

There have been more than 52,000 cases of the new coronavirus in Connecticut and 4,463 deaths, an increase of three since Monday.

In other coronavirus news:

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FAIRFIELD UNIVERSITY TESTING

Fairfield University is retesting students and staff for the new coronavirus after school officials discovered that some previous test results might have been erroneous or sent to the wrong patients.

In a statement to the school community, Fairfield officials said they will no longer use that lab and are advising anyone who has already taken a saliva test for the school to disregard their results.

The school said it has brought in 35 rapid testing machines from Abbot Laboratories and will be retesting members of the school community onsite with swab tests that will give results in 15 minutes. The school said the machines can process up to 800 tests a day.

Students and staff also are being given the option of getting their own tests from another provider and submitting the results to the school through its website.

Students begin moving back to campus on Monday, with classes set to start on Sept. 1.

The school said anyone who receives a positive test result will be asked to return home if possible. Anyone who lives further than 300 miles from the school or can't go home for another reason will be quarantined on campus.