Town Issues Urgent Warning As COVID-19 Cases Surge In Southeastern CT

Dear Stonington Residents,

We are asking all residents and visitors to please continue to remain diligent in taking all COVID-19 precautions possible. In Southeastern CT, including Stonington, we are experiencing higher numbers than we did in April and all need to do our part to protect each other.

Although there is no singular reason for this increase, LLHD contact tracers continue to report that they have observed many COVID cases associated with family and social gatherings, as well as a significant increase in cases associated with long term care and assisted living facilities.We know there is a need for healthy, social interactions, but please wear masks and take all necessary precautions to help stop the spread. Please also keep in mind that limiting the people you interact with can help with critical contact tracing efforts.

Contact Tracing: The State of Connecticut has launched its official COVID-19 exposure notification app, COVID Alert CT. The app, available for Apple and Android mobile devices, informs users if they may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 – all without sharing any personal information. First, users should visit ct.gov/covidalertct, where they can find instructions on how to download the app for their specific device. Please remember contact tracing is a critical piece to curbing the spread. Consider watching this video from LLHD to learn more about contact tracing.

Average Daily Rate of COVID-19 Cases: According to the CT Department of Public Health COVID-19 Alert Map, this week only 3 communities are not in the ‘red’, with 166 cities and towns now in the red zone. On November 19, 2020 Stonington moved from a orange to red community. To read more on this, see here.

Vaccines: As of this week, the state has begun vaccinations. We are currently in phase 1a, which we expect to last until January or early February. Phase 1a are outlined below. Those who will be eligible for vaccination in upcoming phases between January and May has not been finalized, but we anticipate it will include those considered in the ‘critical workforce’; other congregate settings; adults over 65; and high risk individuals under 65.

  • Healthcare Personnel: All paid and unpaid persons serving in healthcare settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients of infectious materials.
  • Long Term Care Facility Residents: Adults who reside in facilities that provide a range of services, including medical and personal care, to persons who are unable to live independently.
  • First Responders at risk of exposure to COVID-19 through their response to medical emergencies such as Emergency Medical Technicians, Police, and Fire.

Testing: Both LLHD and YNHS are aware of our desire for further testing, but due to high demand around the State, it is not certain when or if we will be able to obtain further testing in Town. Additional testing is available around our region and a site developed by the SECOG has regular updates to mobile locations, found here. Thank you to everyone who came out and got tested over the five times we were able to offer local testing, and thanks to the efforts of Yale New Haven Health, LLHD, Stonington Public Schools and Stonington Human Services teams.

COVID-19 Cases: As of December 18, 2020, the total of laboratory-confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases reported by the State among residents is 160,102, which is up from 58,297 (Oct 2).

1,205 patients (up from 110 on Oct 2) are currently hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19. There have been 5,552 COVID-19-associated deaths.

In New London county, we have 76 people currently hospitalized and 8,522 confirmed cases (up from 2,206 on Oct 2).

Stonington had 93 new cases in the past two weeks (50 in week one and 43 in week two, from Nov 29-Dec 12) and 369 cumulative cases since March 2020.

Travel Advisory: For anyone traveling into Connecticut from a state that has a new daily positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents or a state with a 10% or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average, please take note that you are asked to self-quarantine for a 14-day period from the time of last contact within the identified state. As of December 15, 2020 there are 48 locations that meet the criteria. You can read more here. Please know it is strongly advised not to travel to/from one of these states if at all possible. If you are traveling you are required to fill out a travel health form, which can be found here.

Ongoing Health and Safety: It remains imperative that we all please use a face cover whenever you are unable to maintain the recommended six feet of distance. We know that a significant portion of individuals lack symptoms, but can transmit the virus to others. Please continue to take steps to protect yourself and those around you, these include: wash your hands often and thoroughly; avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth; disinfect surfaces routinely; cough into your elbow. Remember this is not just for your safety, but the most vulnerable in our community. Flu Shot Recommendation: The Connecticut Department of Public Health is encouraging people in the state to get vaccinated for the flu as soon as possible. As of November 5, the entire state will roll back to Phase 2.1 rules – a slightly modified version of the previously enacted Phase 2. You can read more here.

In October we created a short video featuring LLHD and Stonington Human Services to share information regarding steps we can be taking to help mitigate the community spread in our region and various resources we have in place to help with mental health during this challenging time. You can view the video here.

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 RI information, including town-by-town numbers, please see here. Individuals who have general questions that are not answered on the website can also call 2-1-1 for assistance. The hotline is available 24 hours a day. For general questions regarding COVID-19, please contact the Yale New Haven Hotline at 1-203-688-1700. If you are not feeling well, contact your physician by phone for instructions. In the event of an emergency, dial 9-1-1.

Mental Health and Community Support: In addition to the physical health impacts, please know there are also resources for mental health support during this challenging time. Your mental health matters. Through the Town of Stonington residents are able to access individual and family counseling services at no cost. Call us at Human Services (860) 535-5015 to schedule an intake appointment and be matched with one of our mental health professionals. Please also see here for a list of state resources, or call us at human service.

We also know that social isolation can amplify issues at home. If you are concerned about a relationship and would like someone to talk to, call CT Safe Connect – (888) 774-2900. Safe Futures is also available 24/7 via their confidential crisis line (860) 701-6001. Please know, you are not alone.

Moreover, if you would like assistance with grocery deliveries, pet supplies, or might benefit from a friendly check-in (even book drop offs), please visit www.stoningtonhelps.com or call us at Town Hall or Human Services. If you have any other needs, or know of others in need of assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out. We have many different options to assist residents in need.

The CDC also recommends positive ways to cope with stress, such as taking breaks from watching the news or reading about the pandemic; taking care of your body by being physically active; eating healthy; getting plenty of sleep; stretching or practicing meditation; staying engaged in activities you enjoy and staying connected to others even though we are physically distancing from each other. Spending time in nature, on trails, and other open spaces is another effective way to cope. Join Hike Stonington to find more local spots and be part of a community initiative. Just remember to be at least six feet apart at all times.

While this is an extremely difficult time; it is also a time for us to show just how kind and strong we are, together as a community. Remember, even small actions, can make a big difference. If you are well and able, please think of friends, family and neighbors who might benefit from your help at this time, as well as our local non-profits and business.

During this time, we want to do everything we can to stay connected. Please check our new First Selectman’s blog for regular updates on a range of topics. Members of the community are also encouraged to sign up for email updates from the Town. You can do this by sending your name, along with preferred email to UpdateSignup@stonington-ct.gov.

Please also consider joining one (or ALL) of our new Facebook groups, specifically set up to support Stonington residents during COVID and beyond:

  • Stonington Connects (established at the beginning of the pandemic to connect residents with virtual enrichment and rec opportunities
  • Stonington Supports (solely focused on highlighting programs to assist with basic needs, mental health and other local, regional and federal catchment programs); and
  • Stonington Works (a place for local businesses to share opportunities and residents seeking employment to network with one another). For more info, send a direct message or email: LTheodore@stonington-ct.gov.

If you have questions, ideas or concerns please contact us in the First Selectman’s Office.

We will get through this together.

Please stay safe Stonington.

Danielle Chesebrough, Stonington First Selectman

This press release was produced by the Town of Stonington.The views expressed here are the author’s own.

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