Today, December 9, 2021, the City of Norwalk is issuing a reminder to residents of the mask advisory for all residents and businesses following the latest reports from the state of Connecticut showing new cases of COVID-19 are on a rapid rise. In Norwalk over the last week, new cases of COVID-19 have more than tripled compared to the week before. Norwalk, like 96% of the state, now finds itself in the red – or highest level – of transmission as categorized by the state Department of Health. Just three weeks ago, 40% of the state was in the red, and Norwalk was listed in the lowest level of transmission.
“As the impacts from Thanksgiving holiday travel and gatherings come into focus, cases are on a rapid rise and I am urging all residents – regardless of vaccination status – to wear a face covering when at indoor public places,” said Norwalk Mayor Harry W. Rilling. “With the Omicron variant spreading, statewide hospitalizations reaching levels we haven’t seen in months, significant holiday travel expected, and cold weather upon us, now is the critical time to double down on our efforts to slow the spread of this virus. Get vaccinated and booster shots if eligible, wear a facemask in indoor public settings, stay home and get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, and participate fully in contact tracing if reached by a contact tracer.”
Across Connecticut, the state Health Department reported 576 COVID-associated hospitalizations today, an increase of 162 from the previous Thursday. Of the people currently hospitalized for COVID-19, 446 or more than 77% are not fully vaccinated. The numbers reported today are the highest since February 2021 and higher than the peak of 391 during the first wave of the Delta variant in August. The Delta variant remains the main driver of COVID-19 transmission in the community.
“Our communities can count on Norwalk Hospital because we are prepared for potential surge scenarios and committed to providing continued access to medical care. We evaluate our bed capacity daily and can leverage the resources of our seven-hospital health system if necessary. In addition, our clinical care teams regularly meet to ensure we are providing the latest COVID-19 treatments,” said Peter R. Cordeau, president of Norwalk Hospital.
Additionally, on Tuesday this week, the state’s daily test positivity rate was 8.3%, the highest positivity rate since January 2021. Today, Norwalk’s test positivity rate is 4.9%, compared to 2.7% the previous week. Over the last several weeks, Norwalk’s case rate per 100,000 population went from less than 5 to today’s reported number of 23.4 per 100,000.
“The recent increase in COVID-19 cases is not unexpected given holiday activities and colder weather bringing people together indoors where the virus is more transmissible. As hospitalizations from COVID-19 increase across the state including at Norwalk Hospital, we are seeing that a vast majority of patients are unvaccinated. We now have widespread access to COVID-19 vaccines unlike last year at this time when there was a spike in cases. Please help slow the spread by getting your initial COVID-19 vaccination if you have not already and your booster if you are eligible. Please also get your flu vaccine. These vaccines are safe and effective against severe illness and hospitalization from these viruses for most people,” said Dr. Paolo Pino, infectious disease specialist at Norwalk Hospital.
With the current level and continuing increase of COVID-19 cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state Department of Public Health (DPH) both recommend facemasks be worn in indoor public settings regardless of vaccination status. The growing presence of the Omicron variant in Connecticut, surrounding states, country, and world emphasizes the need for everyone to continue to practice common sense prevention measures such as wearing facemasks to protect themselves and others. Facemasks work to protect you in two ways: by reducing the viral contamination in the air exhaled from an infected person and to protect an uninfected person from exposure by filtering the air that one inhales.
Different types of facemasks exist, and each provide varying levels of protection. At minimum, the CDC recommends that facemasks cover one’s face and nose via a snug fit without any air gaps and, to maximize effectiveness, that the mask remain clean and dry. If a mask is made of cloth, two or more layers is better than one. Cloth, surgical, KN95, and N95 masks generally provide increasing protection in that order. Masks can be layered if one can safely breathe without difficulty.
The continuing best protection against COVID-19 and its variants is to get vaccinated or receive a booster shot. This Saturday, December 11, a drive-thru, no appointment needed vaccine clinic for anyone 5 years of age and older is scheduled at Veteran’s Park beginning at 8:30 a.m. The Norwalk Community Health Center also has pediatric (ages 5-11) vaccine appointments available on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m., and Soundview Medical is accepting appointments on Saturday from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. for anyone over 18 years of age.
Due to high demand, the City has also added two pediatric (ages 5-11) vaccine clinics at both the Main Branch (1 Belden Ave.) and SoNo Branch (10 Washington St.) Libraries on Sunday, December 12 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. No appointment is necessary. More information on local community vaccine clinics can be found at norwalkct.org/vaccine. Residents may also search for all vaccine providers in the area, make an appointment, and sort by vaccine type or dose, by visiting vaccines.gov/search.
“Simply put, the vaccines are miracles and are saving lives. While it may not stop someone from getting COVID-19, it significantly decreases their chances of getting seriously sick, being hospitalized, and dying,” Mayor Rilling said. “This continues to be mainly a pandemic of the unvaccinated. The best thing someone can do to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their community, is to get vaccinated, get a booster, and follow all public health guidelines.”
For the latest COVID-19 news and updates, visit norwalkct.org/citynews.