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Newtown COVID Cases Up By 11 As State Turns Attention To Younger Residents, Victims



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State sources said by 4 pm on July 29, the number of Newtown’s positive COVID-19 cases had increased by 11 — to 256 from the 245 reported around the same time last week. Three additional residents were also reported to the database of those lost to the novel coronavirus that has also drastically increased the number of fatalities across the nation to more than 153,000.

At 8:30 pm on July 28, the total of COVID-19 cases reported among Connecticut residents was 49,540, including 47,581 laboratory-confirmed and 1,959 probable cases. Fifty-three patients were hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 at that time and there have been 4,425 COVID-19-associated deaths reported.

In regard to the apparent spike in case counts locally, Newtown Health District Director Donna Culbert said a number of them were logged as far back as April, but just recently added to the local count.

On Friday, July 24, the governor’s office similarly reported a one-day jump of 544 cases, but said that number included a large set of data provided by an out-of-state lab on tests that were conducted on Connecticut residents between May 23 and July 20 and not previously reported. This data set provided by the out-of-state lab includes approximately 12,000 tests, 440 of which were positive.

While young people locally have apparently dodged the virus up to now, Culbert did say she received notice of the first reported local death of a person under age 60 — a 58-year-old individual whose death occurred in late May, but who was only added to the database July 29.

Elsewhere in Connecticut, concerns about younger people contracting and spreading the disease heightened with a midweek advisory from Governor Ned Lamont and Department of Public Health Acting Commissioner Dr Deidre S. Gifford that included a concerning image of what looked like more than 100 young people clustered on a group of watercraft moored together in Stony Creek.

Lamont and Dr Gifford expressed concern with recent COVID-19 outbreak clusters among teens and young adults in Connecticut. Statistics from Connecticut and elsewhere show that 18- to 29-year-olds represent substantial numbers of new COVID-19 infections in recent weeks.

The state health department has also received anecdotal, unconfirmed information regarding youth sports team travel to states on Connecticut’s travel advisory list. Under an order from the governor, all adults and children who participate in nonessential, out-of-state travel are required to complete a traveler information form upon their return to Connecticut and self-quarantine for 14 days.

Teams who choose to travel to states on the travel advisory list are expected to cancel practices and competition for the 14 days after their return to Connecticut in order to comply with the order. Failure to comply may result in a $1,000 penalty.

“Connecticut has one of the lowest COVID-19 infection rates in the country right now, but if we are not careful, this can change rapidly,” Lamont said. “We do not want to end up with uncontrolled outbreaks like those being seen across much of the south and western portions of the United States. Our COVID-related hospitalizations have declined to just a few dozen, far from the peak back in late April when nearly 2,000 of our residents were being treated in hospitals. This is not a time to relax our basic practices to slow down the spread of the virus. This is a time for remaining vigilant.”

Need To Socialize

Commissioner Gifford said she understands the importance of socializing and seeing friends after so many months of social distancing.

“We also know that teens and young adults want to do their part to protect their communities, especially the elderly and those at high risk of serious illness from the virus that causes COVID-19,” Dr Gifford said. “There are ways to safely socialize. It’s always safest to gather outside, and keep six feet away from others. Always keep your mask with you. Keep your groups small. Connecticut’s reopening guidance limits indoor gatherings to no more than 25. Always wear a face covering indoors if you are with those who aren’t part of your household. With these simple but effective steps, we can keep Connecticut safe and still enjoy time with friends and family.”

Dr Gifford reminded residents and visitors to the state that as many as 40 percent of COVID cases can be asymptomatic.

“That means if you go to a party with a crowd and without a mask, even if you are feeling well you can spread COVID to others who may become very ill,” Dr Gifford said. “They can spread COVID to older or more vulnerable family and friends. To keep all of Connecticut safe, everyone needs to do their part and stick with the rules. It is also important for people to work with their local health department on contact tracing related to COVID-19, which is an important activity in making sure people who were exposed are aware and can quarantine to prevent spread to others.”

“This is a virus that can spread rapidly,” Governor Lamont added. “A small cluster of cases can turn into hundreds of new infections within days. If you multiply that, we are looking at major impact to our ability to continue to reopen our economy or even send children back to school in September for in-person instruction. We need your help, and we are counting on you. So please, we ask you again — wear your mask, wash your hands, and maintain social distancing wherever possible. This has been a difficult time for all of us. But together we can get through it and become stronger.”

Locally, that message was echoed by the Heath District director.

“We continue to urge vigilance in following measures like mask wearing, hand washing, and disinfecting,” Culbert said. “Young people may be asymptomatic for days or weeks, or may not be feeling ill. We don’t have good data on them and what their viral load is or how they shed — so it’s critical they strictly follow the guidelines being outlined.”

Travel Advisory Expanded

On July 28, the regional travel advisory between Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York that went into effect last month and directs incoming travelers from states with a significant community spread of COVID-19 to self-quarantine for a 14-day period was updated to include Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Puerto Rico, and Washington, DC.

The quarantine applies to any person arriving from a state with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day rolling average or a state with a ten percent or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average.

The locations meeting this criteria are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington state, Washington, DC, and Wisconsin.

On Monday, July 27, the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles announced it has added to its list of extended deadlines for residents with expiring credentials. Eligible DMV credentials that expire between August 1, 2020 and September 30, 2020 are automatically covered by this extension.

In addition to extending the expiration date of DMV credentials, late fees associated with eligible expired credentials will be waived during this period.

Deadlines have been extended for the following DMV-related items:

*All licenses, permits, and identification cards: Lengthens the credential extension to 90 days for credentials that expire between August 1, 2020 and September 30, 2020.

*All registrations, including International Registration Plan and boat registrations: For credentials expiring between August 1, 2020 and September 30, 2020, credentials will be extended by 90 days from the expiration date.

*Emissions testing and retesting: For test due dates that fall between August 1, 2020 and September 30, 2020, the due date will be extended by 90 days from the emissions expiration date.

*Permanent disability placard: Any permanent disability placard that expires at the same time as a credential that is subject to an extension will be extended by 90 days.

*Business licenses: For credentials expiring between August 1, 2020 and September 30, 2020, credentials will be extended by 90 days from the expiration date.

*Temporary registrations: Temporary registrations obtained between August 1, 2020 and September 30, 2020 are extended by 90 days.

*Temporary licenses, IDs, permits that contain a digital image: Expiration dates will be extended by 90 days for all temporary (paper) licenses obtained between August 1, 2020 and September 30, 2020.

*Flashing light permits: Expiration dates between August 1, 2020 and September 30, 2020 are extended by 90 days.

*School bus proficiency tests: Extends the validity of school bus proficiency tests that are due between August 1, 2020 and September 30, 2020 by 90 days.

For answers to questions, updates, or more information about these extensions or other previously-issued credential extensions, visit www.ct.gov/dmv, call 860-263-5700 (within the Hartford area) or 800-842-8222 (outside the Hartford area).

For the most up-to-date information from the State of Connecticut on COVID-19, including an FAQ and other guidance and resources, residents are encouraged to visit ct.gov/coronavirus.

For up-to-date local information, visit the municipal website by CLICKING HERE - and by visiting newtownbee.com or the newspaper’s Facebook and Twitter sites.

Governor Ned Lamont this week illustrated a COVID-19 advisory with this image of a gathering of a significant number of young adults recently in Stony Creek. Lamont and Department of Public Health Acting Commissioner Dr Deidre S. Gifford are expressing concern with recent COVID-19 outbreak clusters among teens and young adults in Connecticut.
A resident prepares to drop a box of cardboard into the dumpster at the town transfer station on July 24. Two days earlier, according to Public Works employees, the sandwich board on the left was put in place to remind residents to wear masks while using the transfer station.—Bee Photo, Hicks
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