NEW BRITAIN – As positive covid-19 cases continues to rise again statewide and within the city, Mayor Erin Stewart urged residents to remain vigilant in wearing masks in public spaces and to be mindful of others.
As of Tuesday, the mayor said the total active cases in the city is 54, recognizing the numbers continues to fluctuate.
“Don’t get me wrong, we are definitely seeing a slight uptick in cases. But the numbers aren’t as high as reported in the state data because when my office took a deeper dive into those numbers, we found out that many of those cases are old cases that are just being reported. Almost 40 cases that were from July and August weren’t reported to us,” Stewart said. “I can’t tell you why that is but that’s what we’ve discovered.”
After conversations with the city’s Public Health Department and the nursing division, Stewart said out of the 60-plus cases reported earlier this week, 18 of those cases were new, and about half of the new cases were related to Central Connecticut State University students.
“I know the data is causing a lot of concern and I don’t want people to panic,” she said.
According to data released by state health officials Wednesday, New Britain had 1,413 confirmed and 60 probable coronavirus cases since reporting began.
While the reopening of CCSU contributed to the rising numbers, Stewart said it is a combination of things, including the older un-reported cases.
“The problem is we have commuter students potentially bringing the cases to our town,” she said, as well as off campus parties and gatherings.
Through contact tracing, Stewart said there were about five positive cases that were traced back to a local church on Monroe Street and three CCSU students who visited Elmer’s Place on East Street were tested positive. The restaurant voluntarily closed to quarantine and the mayor said the restaurant did everything right the moment they found out about the cases.
“They closed down, deep cleaned and they got their whole staff tested,” said Stewart, who plans on visiting the restaurant next week. “I want to show that they’re not some hub for the coronavirus and that it’s safe to go there.”
The mayor also encourages residents to get tested if they want some reassurance and a peace of mind.
There are three regular hour testing sites in the city: AFC Urgent Care on 135 E. Main St., weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and weekends from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; the Community Health Center on 85 Lafayette St., Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and the HOCC trailer at 100 Grand St., Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8 a.m. to noon.
In other pandemic-related business, an eviction mediator has been brought in to mediate all the evictions and foreclosures the city anticipated as a result of the pandemic. Funded under the federal CARES Act, about $90,000 was put toward funding the temporary position that will be working under the city’s Community Services Department.
The work started during the first week of September and Stewart said there have been eight people who reached out to the city for eviction remediation help.
Another $125,000 in CARES Act funds will be put toward a series of local marketing campaigns to support the economy and businesses.
“We want people to know that New Britain businesses are open and to make sure people are coming to town and spending money on New Britain places,” she said. The campaign includes video spots and digital media packages that will encourage people to support and keep local businesses open.
The city received about $900,000 in grants from the CARES Act, which the city has been able to use to defray certain costs by submitting action plans to the state Department of Housing and Urban Development, who approves or denies how the funds can be used.
Along with the eviction mediator and local marketing campaigns, the city was approved to use $50,000 to use toward stocking food for local food pantries, $100,000 for decontamination equipment for first responder’s equipment and about $30,000 for facility upgrades such as ultra violet filters. The roughly $500,000 that remains will be put towards a city-wide coronavirus standing fund, pending HUD approval.