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Newtown COVID Cases Top 600 As State Sees Virus Deaths Surpass 5,100



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Governor Ned Lamont regretfully reported December 2 that Connecticut COVID-19 related deaths had surpassed the 5,000 mark, while locally, the Newtown health District is now tracking more than 600 virus cases in town.

Health District Director Donna Culbert said while there have been no further virus-related deaths reported locally for many weeks, her office’s case load has swelled from 426 on November 13 to at least 605 by December 3.

“We’re still seeing very few children,” Culbert said, although she shared that many of the new cases are extending from individuals who previously tested positive in the same household.

“There’s just a lot of in-home transmission happening,” she said. “And plenty of these new cases are folks in their 40s and 50s, versus the vast majority of cases in the first surge last spring were almost exclusively over age 60, with a lot in their 70s and 80s.”

If there is any positive news for Culbert, whose district also includes Roxbury and Bridgewater, it is that those two communities are among just a handful statewide with a controlled positivity rate of less than five per 100,000.

As of December 2, the total of laboratory-confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases reported among Connecticut residents was 126,177, including 118,191 laboratory-confirmed and 7,986 probable cases. One thousand one hundred ninety-one patients were hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19, and 5,111 COVID-19-associated deaths had been reported.

Two days earlier, Lamont signed Executive Order No. 9O enacting the following provisions:

Flexibility in hiring short-term substitute teachers: Allows the commissioner of the State Department of Education to suspend the statutory requirement that local school districts request and receive a waiver from the commissioner to hire short-term substitute teachers who do not have a bachelor’s degree.

Sale of alcoholic liquor at virtual events by charitable organizations permitted: Modifies certain state laws to enable charitable organizations to sell alcoholic liquor for off-premises consumption as part of virtual fundraising events.

Resumption of certain Judicial Branch requirements and deadlines: Amends previously enacted executive orders to resume statutory requirements and deadlines related to Supreme and Appellate Court operations and related to offers of compromise.

Travel And Vax Info

On December 1, the governor also announced that the state’s travel advisory — which directs incoming travelers from states and territories with a significant community spread of COVID-19 to self-quarantine for a 14-day period — is remaining the same this week as no locations are being added or removed. Currently there are 45 states, along with the US Virgin Islands, Guam, and Puerto Rico, on the travel advisory.

The requirement to quarantine applies to any person traveling into Connecticut from one of the impacted locations. Impacted locations include those — other than the neighboring states of New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island — that have a positive case rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents or higher than a 10 percent test positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average, and countries for which the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice.

Anyone arriving to Connecticut from any of the impacted locations is required to complete a travel health form upon their arrival. The form can be filled out online at ct.gov/travelform.

Ahead of Lamont’s anticipated press conference December 3 regarding Connecticut’s COVID-19 vaccination roll-out plans, the ACLU of Connecticut sent a letter reminding the governor of his constitutional responsibility to ensure that people who are incarcerated are included in the same tier as all others in congregate living situations, such as nursing homes and psychiatric facilities.

David McGuire, ACLU of Connecticut executive director, said, “People who are incarcerated are people, and the close proximities and poor conditions in Connecticut prisons and jails have left them in harm’s way from COVID-19.

“Incarcerated people, who are in congregate living situations with no control over their abilities or fates, should be included in the same vaccine rollout tier as all other people in congregate living facilities, such as nursing homes and psychiatric facilities. Governor Lamont, who has been the nexus of Connecticut’s COVID-19 response, must ensure that Connecticut does not discriminate against people on the basis of which type of congregate facility they are in, but must instead base his vaccination response on the scientific and public health evidence that clearly shows prisons and jails are among the least healthy places for people to be during this pandemic,” McGuire continued.

He said any decision the Lamont administration makes regarding vaccination rollout in the Department of Correction also disproportionately affects the lives of people of color, as systemic racism has made Connecticut’s prisons and jails 70 percent Black and Latino.

“When the state decides to incarcerate someone, it assumes the legal and moral responsibility to keep them safe and healthy, a responsibility Connecticut must uphold during its COVID-19 vaccination rollout,” he concluded. “We call on Governor Lamont to explicitly include incarcerated people in the congregate living tier of his vaccination plan during his Thursday vaccine rollout announcement, and we are requesting a virtual meeting with the governor, his staff, the COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group, DOC, and the co-chairs of the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee to discuss this issue.”

As the number of COVID-19 cases has risen in Connecticut in November, the population rate of new cases in the Connecticut Department of Correction (DOC) has been higher than the rate in Connecticut’s overall population. During the month of November, there have been 257 new infections in DOC prisons and jails, representing 2.78 percent of people incarcerated in Connecticut DOC prisons and jails, according to the DOC’s self-reported numbers.

Susan Leniart, a member of Bee Publishing Company’s production department, wears a mask while adjusting photos for the newspaper on Tuesday, December 2. —Bee Photo, Hicks
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