The number of people testing positive for COVID-19 has risen dramatically over the past several weeks, and the West Hartford-Bloomfield Health District is urging the community to utilize the free resource available to stay safe.
By Ronni Newton
COVID-19 is surging again, and while hospitalizations are nowhere near the levels of the previous surge, the number of cases reported in West Hartford has doubled in the past week, and the West Hartford-Bloomfield Health District is urging residents to take precautions and to utilize the free, available resources to remain safe from the virus.
Megan Westcott, an epidemiologist with the West Hartford-Bloomfield Health District, said Thursday that according to their data, West Hartford has had 323 new cases between May 12 and May 18, roughly double the number of reported cases in the previous week.
The state, using its data, reports an average daily case rate of COVID-19 per 100,000 population each Thursday afternoon, based on a 14-day period that ends the previous Saturday. Westcott said the Health District’s calculation, based on their data and a slightly different reporting period, estimates a current daily case rate per 100,000 for West Hartford of 60.9. The rate has not been that high since late January – during the initial omicron surge.
Along with virtually every other municipality in the state, West Hartford is classified as having high community transmission, defined as 15 or more cases per 100,000 residents per day.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently classifies all eight counties in Connecticut at high community transmission, with a case rate of 372.7 per 100,000 population over the last seven days and a positivity rate of 13.8%.
And those numbers indicate only the officially reported cases. Many people have tested positive utilizing antigen self-tests, and that data is not recorded.
The CDC also classified six of Connecticut’s eight counties – including Hartford County – as having “high community levels of COVID-19,” a measure that differs from community transmission and is based on on COVID-19 hospital admissions and the percentage of inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients.
As of Thursday, there were 153 active COVID-19 cases in West Hartford Public Schools.
“The COVID 19 virus is going to be with us into the foreseeable future and we are all learning how we can live with it,” Mayor Shari Cantor told We-Ha.com on Thursday. “We have so many tools now to minimize the health impact but we need to be aware of new or increased risk so we can take precautions based on our own personal risk tolerance.”
The West Hartford-Bloomfield Health District, in accordance with the advice of the state Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Manisha Juthani, “recommends wearing a mask in public indoor settings and in crowded outdoor settings when having close interactions with people outside of your household,” as well as remaining current with COVID-19 vaccinations, and utilizing testing resources as needed.
“I urge everyone do all they can to protect themselves, their families, friends and community by remaining up to date on vaccinations, test if exposed, visit a test and treat location for an antiviral, stay home if you are ill, and wear a mask if you are in a close indoor space during times of high community spread which helps protect yourself and the most vulnerable,” Cantor said. “It is up to each of us to take personal responsibility to protect ourselves and each other.”
There is not currently a mask mandate in West Hartford, although most health care settings continue to require them. “We don’t anticipate a mask mandate unless there is significant pressures on our hospitals,” Cantor said.
The West Hartford-Bloomfield Health District holds weekly COVID vaccination clinics at its Bloomfield offices located at 580 Cottage Grove Road, Suite 100. Appointments are required. The Moderna vaccine is administered on Wednesdays, between 9 a.m. and noon, and the Pfizer vaccine is administered on Thursdays, from 9 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Call 860-561-7900 to schedule an appointment.
Initial doses as well as boosters are administered at the clinics. “At this time we are recommending that anyone 50 or older, or younger people who have underlying conditions, receive a second booster dose,” Westcott said. Anyone 50 or older, or those 12 and up who are moderately-or severely immunocompromised, is currently eligible for a second booster if it has been at least four months since their last booster.
The Health District also has free rapid antigen COVID test kits available (while supplies last) for West Hartford and Bloomfield residents.
In addition, the state DPH offers free walk-in PCR COVID testing at its Hartford location on the corner of Albany Avenue and Woodland Street, (1161 Albany Ave.) on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, from 3:30-6:30 p.m. and on Saturday, from noon-3 p.m.
The Health District advises that utilizing the CDC tool to determine how long you should isolate, quarantine, or take other steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 if you test positive or have close contact with someone who tested positive. That information can be found here.
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