NEWINGTON – The regional health authority had to inform a high number of people that they might have covid-19 this week after confirming more than a dozen cases in town over the holiday weekend.
Central Connecticut Health District Director Charles Brown met with the Newington Town Council during its meeting Tuesday night, explaining how CCHD staff had begun contact tracing after 13 residents tested positive Columbus Day weekend.
“We haven’t seen that type of increase since the May or June timeline,” Brown said. “The CCHD is working with all four of our towns because we are seeing a number of increases here in the last week.”
Contact tracing is performed among people who have had “significant contact” with an infected individual. That equates to 10-15 minutes within six feet, with or without a mask.
“Having a mask on does protect you and the person you’re with but the time frame is what we’re looking at,” Brown said.
The CCHD encompasses the towns of Newington, Wethersfield, Rocky Hill and Berlin. Staff has been record-keeping, contact-tracing and spreading education throughout the pandemic to keep local residents as safe as possible.
Among their latest efforts is a push for people to get vaccinated against the influenza virus. The CCHD is hosting eight drive-thru flu clinics throughout the month of October.
Berlin had its flu clinics the first week of October, and Newington’s are coming up next week. Residents from any town can attend.
“The drive-through clinics are an entirely new way of doing this for our volunteers and staff,” Brown said. “We were very successful in Berlin last week.”
The goal is to not overwhelm the healthcare system with hospitalizations during the upcoming flu season, especially while covid-19 cases are on the rise.
“We’re at the beginning of our second wave of cases across the state,” Brown said of the coronavirus. “The younger population is actually driving the increase right now, which is quite different than what we saw at the beginning of the pandemic.”
Nursing home residents were hit hard by the virus last spring, but now cases are rising among youth who went back to school this fall. Although school districts implemented hybrid and distanced models that still hasn’t completely stopped the virus from spreading. Sports and other outdoor gatherings are to blame, according to Brown.
Regardless of where they are, he encourages people to remember the three W’s: Wash your hands, Wear a mask and Watch your distance.
Newington reported 504 positive cases of the virus as of Wednesday’s most recent data set. Total deaths stand at 52 and the last death was on Sept. 29. Over 8,000 Newington residents have been tested for the virus.
The CCHD is working with the CT Dept. of Public Health and FEMA to plan for the distribution of a covid-19 vaccine, when it becomes readily available. Critical infrastructure like police, fire and public officials will be the first to get their hands on the stuff, along with at-risk individuals, those who are immune-compromised and the elderly.
“We’ve been planning for mass vaccinations for a long time,” Brown said. “This will be an all hands on deck scenario.”
Newington’s Drive-Thru Flu Clinics are set to take place next Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 20-21 on Alumni Field at 50 Alumni Rd. Tuesday’s clinic will be from 2-6 p.m. and Wednesday’s clinic will be from 9 a.m. -1 p.m.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.