Summary, February 22
In Weston, four new confirmed cases (over three days) were reported today. The town’s pandemic-to-date total has risen 49 percent since 2021 began. But the recent trends of the town’s 14-day new cases and average case rate are encouraging.
At the schools, the district reported two new cases: a Weston Intermediate School student and a staff member at Weston Middle School. Quarantine numbers increased as a result.
In Fairfield County, the average number of daily new cases for the most recent seven-day period is at the lowest level since early November. The number of those in the county hospitalized for Covid has been trending downward.
Latest vaccine update, February 22
As of February 22, a total of 826,125 vaccinations have been administered in Connecticut.
The state Department of Public Health reports that, as of February 16, 1,288 Weston residents have received at least the first dose of a Covid vaccine, 12.56 percent of the town’s population.
Our February 8 article contains information about options for making a vaccination appointment.
See our February 22 article about dates that age groups will become eligible for vaccination appointments.
As of February 16, a total of 691,846 vaccinations have been administered in the state. 473,784 were first doses. 218,062 (31.5 percent) were second doses.
According to Governor Ned Lamont, 66 percent of those age 75 and above have received at least a first dose. 23 percent of those age 65–74 have been vaccinated.
The governor announced that Connecticut’s supply of vaccines will increase by 22 percent next week. He also said a mass vaccination site at the University of Bridgeport will open.
Mr. Lamont also said that he expects to relax restrictions on event venue capacity, if metrics remain favorable, on March 19. Capacity for indoor venues will rise to 50 percent with a cap of 100 people. Outdoors, the number of people allowed will rise to 200.
The governor said details about the next section of Phase 1B who will be eligible will be announced in ten days, at which point the State will also provide new guidance about attending athletic events.
Johnson & Johnson applied to the FDA for emergency use authorization for its single-dose vaccine. Action could be taken within two weeks.
Approval would significantly increase vaccine supplies as soon as early March. Because the vaccine requires refrigeration, not freezing, it could be an ideal candidate for distribution to pharmacies for clinics.
The Department of Health announced that the vaccination appointment telephone line will now be open 12 hours a day, every day. In anticipation of the upcoming eligibility of those 65 and above, 125 contact specialists will be able to book up to 10,000 appointments at twelve locations across the state.
On February 4, Governor Ned Lamont told the press that 459,257 vaccine doses have been administered in Connecticut so far. 358,019 are first doses, 101,238 are seconds.
Half of those age 75 and above have received at least their first dose, according to Governor Lamont.
Mr. Lamont said he expects to be able to announce in the next week to ten days when vaccinations can begin for those age 65 and above. After that group, the next part of Phase 1B will be frontline essential workers, including teachers, and those with existing health conditions that put them at greater risk.
The governor said vaccine supplies for the state will increase next week by 17 percent, up to over 60,000 doses per week.
Mr. Lamont said he expects Johnson & Johnson’s new vaccine will receive FDA emergency use authorization “in a week or two.” He said a data system is being put in place to detect which Covid-19 variant is prevalent so that vaccines can be customized.
In his February 1 press briefing, Governor Ned Lamont said 45 percent of Connecticut residents 75 years of age and older have received at least the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
The governor said 425,144 vaccinations have been administered so far: 338,859 first doses and 86,285 seconds.
Mr. Lamont also announced eased restrictions for restaurants and houses of worship. Taking effect later this week, the curfew for restaurants to close will now be 11:00 pm. Houses of worship will be able to hold up to 50 percent capacity, with no cap on actual numbers.
At his January 28 press briefing, Governor Ned Lamont said 364,255 vaccine doses have been administered in Connecticut to date. 64,379 were second doses.
The governor announced that Connecticut’s weekly vaccine allocation will increase by 15 percent from the current (roughly) 47,000 doses to 54,000 doses. Mr. Lamont said the extra vaccine will be “focused on the underserved community,” where Covid-19 exposure is high, “for the greater good of public health.”
So far, 35 percent of the age group 75 and above have been vaccinated. That age group is the only segment of Phase 1B currently eligible for vaccination.
Mr. Lamont also said the telephone appointment system (877-918-2224) has more resources and average wait times are down to three minutes. Bookings are being made at six sites, with more to come. 14 Walgreens and CVS retail locations are now operational.
Johnson & Johnson says it will produce Phase 3 trial data next week. Favorable results would undoubtedly lead to a rapid application to the FDA for an emergency use authorization. The J&J product is a single-dose vaccine. It is easier to store than existing vaccines. Its release would significantly increase supply.
J&J has committed to producing at least one billion doses of the vaccine this year, with at least 100 million doses destined for the United States.
Meanwhile, Pfizer says it will hit its target of producing 200 million doses by the end of May, two months earlier than originally thought. That is partly because Pfizer vials contain one more dose than expected.
As of January 25, 308,502 vaccine doses have been administered in Connecticut. 42,555 were second doses.
In his press briefing on January 25, Governor Ned Lamont again emphasized that vaccine supply is still the state’s largest obstacle and characterized vaccinations as a race against a new Covid strain. There are now eight cases of the highly transmissible — and possibly more lethal — U.K. variant of Covid-19 in Connecticut.
Mr. Lamont said the state’s current allocation of about 45,000 doses per week is about one-third of the total requested by healthcare providers.
The governor said 27 percent of those 75 years of age and above have been vaccinated. Vaccine administration is also underway in congregate settings, including homeless shelters.
The state’s Chief Operating Officer, Josh Geballe, said the Department of Public Health is working to refine the definition of essential workers who would be included later in Phase 1B. He said the department is also examining which health complications would apply to at that time. Essential frontline workers and those with qualifying medical conditions become eligible in several weeks, after the 65 and up age group.
Mr. Geballe said the state is working with the CDC on improving the VAMS online registration and vaccination appointment system. The site’s interface is seen as challenging for those not experienced in online systems.
The 211 telephone registration system, operated by the United Way, is under heavy pressure. Lisa Tepper Bates, president and CEO of the United Way of Connecticut, said the organization has added 75 staff positions and asked for patience.
Ms. Bates also said the 211 system’s call volume has increased 500 percent this year, including calls for assistance in every category of need.
Governor Lamont praised the United Way in a video released this afternoon. (See below.)
The governor also announced that he will request an extension of his emergency powers. At the moment, they are set to expire on February 9. Mr. Lamont will ask a special committee of 10 legislative leaders to extend the emergency declaration to April 20, at which time he hopes “we will know better where we stand” in vaccine supply, the spread of the disease, and the impact of new variants.
Registration for vaccinations is open for medical workers, emergency responders, nursing home residents and staff, and those 65 years of age and older.
Also eligible are residents and staff of congregate settings, such as prisons and group homes.
On March 1, those 55 years of age and older will be able to make vaccination appointments. In March, school staff members, teachers, and professional caregivers will be able to be vaccinated in dedicated clinics.
See our February 22 article about dates that age groups will become eligible for vaccination appointments.
If you are qualified to be a vaccinator…
…the state would welcome your help. Here is where you can step up.
148 new cases reported since the end of 2020 brought the town’s pandemic-to-date total to 448. Five Weston residents have died of Covid-19.
Weston is classified a Connecticut Red Alert town. 138 of the state’s 169 municipalities are on the list.
The following four graphics represent six weeks of 14-day metrics reported by the state’s Department of Public Health.
The chart above depicts Weston’s case rate as 14-day averages reported each week for the past six weeks.
The case rate is the average daily number of new cases. To allow comparison to other population sizes, it is expressed as an average per 100 thousand of population.
Case rates were comparatively low in the autumn, less than seven percent, and critically high in mid-January, where they reached the low eighties.
We see the case rate as the most relevant indicator of what is going on. We are far less impressed by the positivity rate, which gets all the headlines, especially when it jumps on a daily basis.
These are the actual numbers of new Weston cases that appeared in recent 14-day periods.
This chart depicts the average 14-day positivity rates for Weston, calculated at the end of each of the past six weeks. Averaging the rate over 14 days muffles the daily volatility. But the basic issue with the positivity rate is that one would think it connects to actual cases, but it doesn’t.
When someone tests positive, he or she is counted as a confirmed case once and only once. But every test that person takes, no matter how many, no matter whether positive or negative, goes into the positivity calculation. That is true for all tests. As a result, the figure is more indicative of how much testing is being done than what is actually happening with the virus.
This chart depicts the total number of tests performed on Weston residents in 14-day periods, calculated weekly.
Fairfield County’s average of daily new cases has declined after a post-new year surge. It remains high, but is at its lowest level since early November. Meanwhile, Weston cases have risen 49 percent since the start of the new year.
In Fairfield County during the past week, about 200 new cases on average were confirmed every day.
We average the daily new cases for the seven-day period ending on the date of the latest reported data, then do the same for five preceding weeks. Averaging reduces the variability of daily numbers that may be partly influenced by the number of tests performed on a given day.
The graphic provides a clear representation of the course the disease has recently taken. An upward course does not necessarily predict an upward trend. A downward trend over several weeks may indicate that efforts to contain and reduce the spread of infection are working.
We focus on the county, as the State recommends, because the dataset is larger and more reliable. It is also most relevant, since few people confine their activities to their town’s borders.
In Weston schools
February 22: The school district reported two new cases today: a Weston Intermediate School student and a staff member at Weston Middle School.
February 19: One new case, a Hurlbutt Elementary staff member, was reported today. The number of students and staff either positive or in quarantine has dropped significantly in recent days.
February 17: One positive test reported today, an 11th grade student. On the whole, compared to recent days, there are far fewer students and staff isolated or in quarantine.
February 16: Positive tests for a bus driver and a high school staff member, but far fewer students and staff isolated or in quarantine.
February 10: At Weston schools, the number of students and staff out due to positive tests or in quarantine fell from recent highs.
February 5: One student at Hurlbutt Elementary and one 10th grader at Weston High School tested positive. No staff.
February 4: One middle school student was reported as having tested positive today. One Intermediate School staffer and one from Hurlbutt are also newly-confirmed cases.
February 3: The case of a third bus driver who yesterday tested positive led to fifteen more students in three schools being asked to quarantine.
Despite an increased number of cases and a large number of students and staff currently in quarantine, the school district today announced plans to go to all-in classroom instruction for second and third grades on February 8 and the same for fourth and fifth grades on February 16. Voluntary distance learning remains an option for parents to select.
At the elementary schools, there are currently no students isolated due to positive tests, but 106 in quarantine.
The administration noted that the shift means social distance will fall below three feet “in many situations” and that students will not be able to wear masks at lunch.
For at least the time being, Weston’s middle school and high school remain in hybrid mode.
February 2: School buildings were set to reopen once snow removal operations were complete and roads were not icy. That changed in the evening with word that another bus driver tested positive. The administration announced that the district would once again shift into all-remote learning for at least one day.
Earlier in the day, the school district reported positive tests for another 9th grade Weston High School student, a 12th grade student, a high school staff member, and two bus drivers. News of the third driver’s positive test caused the district to go all-remote for at least Wednesday so contact tracing could be conducted
The district has a shortage of drivers. Alternatives are being explored. Meanwhile, bus routes are being reorganized. A certain amount of disruption and delay is expected.
January 28: The school district administration reported that one 9th grade student at Weston High School tested positive, as did one school bus driver.
The Weston High School building closed for at least the rest of the week due to, according to the administration, “a recent spike in positive Covid cases” linked to a “specific activity” that created on-campus transmission. All classes are being conducted remotely.
The “specific activity” involved a sports team.
CDC data published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found “little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission” but noted that, for high school athletic teams, “contact during both practices and competition, and at social gatherings associated with team sports, increases risk.”
January 26: Three more ninth grade Weston High School students were reported as testing positive.
January 25: One 9th grade Weston High School student tested positive, as did one middle school staff member and one district staff member. Contact with these or other cases appears to be extensive, as the number of students in quarantine increased by nearly 100 from last week. Staff quarantines more than doubled, to 27.
January 22: The school district reported that one student at Hurlbutt Elementary School tested positive and that contact tracing and notifications were complete.
January 21: The school district reported that one staff member at Hurlbutt Elementary School tested positive and that contact tracing and notifications were complete.
January 19: The school district reported that three high school students — one in 11th grade, two in 9th — tested positive. District officials said contact tracing and notifications were complete. The district also reported that one Hurlbutt Elementary student tested positive, but that no additional students or staff were at risk of exposure within school.
January 14: The school district administration reported that three Weston Middle School students tested positive. Officials said no additional students or staff were at risk of exposure within school.
January 13: One 11th grade student was reported to have tested positive.
January 12: One 12th grade student and one Weston Intermediate School staff member tested positive. School district officials said no additional students or staff were at risk of exposure within school.
January 11: The school district reported that four Weston High School students, one Weston Intermediate School staff member, and one Weston Middle School staff member tested positive. The administration said all contact tracing and notifications are complete.
January 6: The school district reported that two students from the intermediate school, two from the middle school, and one middle school staff member tested positive.
January 5: The district reported that over the last two weeks one Hurlbutt student tested positive as did two middle school students, one high school student, and one Chartwells staff member.
December 17: The school district reported that a high school student tested positive and that contact tracing was conducted and notifications made. The district no longer separately reports the number of quarantines, if any, made necessary by a new case. They would be reflected in the daily graphic indicating the current count per school.
December 15: One new case, a middle school student, was confirmed. School district officials say no additional students or staff were at risk of exposure within school.
December 10: One middle school student tested positive. The district reports that no additional students or staff were at risk of exposure within school.
The administration announced that the district will shift to all-remote education until at least January 6. The main issue seems to be the disruption caused by fits and starts of teachers out and quarantined. While schools are not seen as a significant source of community spread, implicit in the decision is a recognition that cases in Weston and in the county are growing to troubling levels.
December 9: The school district reported positive tests for one middle school student and three high school students. Officials said no other students or staff were at risk of exposure within school.
December 8: A Weston High School staff member tested positive for Covid-19. Contact tracing was conducted. 13 staff members and six students were asked to quarantine.
December 7: The district announced that a bus driver tested positive, affecting all four schools. Families and staff were advised, contact tracing and notifications were completed. Five high school students were asked to quarantine.
December 4: A 10th grade student at Weston High School tested positive for Covid-19. Contact tracing began immediately. Twelve students were asked to quarantine.
December 3: A middle school staff member tested positive. Contact tracing and notifications were conducted.
December 2: A 12th grade student tested positive. District officials say no students or staff were at risk of exposure within school.
December 1: An eighth grade student tested positive. The administration reports that no students or staff were at risk of exposure within school.
November 20: Hurlbutt Elementary reports that a first grade student tested positive and that no other students or staff were at risk of exposure within the school.
November 19: A sixth grade student tested positive. School officials say no additional students or staff were at risk of exposure within school.
November 17: A Weston High School staff member tested positive. Contact tracing was conducted. A number of individuals were asked to self-quarantine.
At Hurlbutt Elementary, following contact tracing, a positive test result for a staff member resulted in 14 staff members and 14 students asked to quarantine.
At WIS, the positive test of a third grade student resulted in 33 students and staff asked to quarantine.
November 16: The school district reported that three more students tested positive for Covid-19. One is a high school student, one a middle school voluntary distance learner, one attends Weston Intermediate School. District officials said the students have not been in school for over a week, so no students or staff were at risk of exposure in school.
However, Intermediate School principal Pattie Falber reported that a third grade student’s positive test requires contact tracing that will force the school to shift to all-distance learning for at least Tuesday, November 17.
November 13: The school district reported that a third grade student tested positive, apparently the first case of exposure on a school bus. Officials say the student has been quarantined for over a week and see no risk of a spread within the school.
November 12: The school district announced that, due to rapid Covid escalation and evidence of a spread in at least one Weston school, the district will shift into hybrid mode on November 16.
Earlier in the day, district officials said another fifth grade student has tested positive. The student had not been in school for over a week, so no spread to students or staff was expected.
The district also announced that 21 high school athletes were exposed at an away sporting event to a student from another district who tested positive.
In addition, the administration reported that a First Student bus driver has tested positive. Families whose children rode the bus in the past 48 hours have been notified.
November 11: The school district announced that two fifth grade students tested positive for Covid-19.
The students had been on self-quarantine and not in school for over one week. Thus, the district concluded that no other students or staff were at risk of exposure within school.
District officials noted, however, that one of the students appears to be the first case of a spread within the schools. The second student’s exposure appears to have occurred outside of school.
An eighth grade student also tested positive, has been out of school in self-quarantine for more than a week, and thus, according to district officials, other students and staff were not at risk of exposure in the school.
November 9: The school district reported that a ninth grade student tested positive for Covid. According to school officials, the student had not been in school for over a week, so no students or staff were at risk of exposure at the high school.
Weston Intermediate School has reopened for full in-person classes. Hurlbutt Elementary is also open in the same mode. Voluntary distance learning remains available to students at all schools.
The high school and middle school remain in the hybrid mode. However, one middle school team is in full-distance through November 19 due to teacher quarantines.
November 7: At Weston Middle School, one team, the 7th Grade Adventurers, shifts to remote learning from Monday, November 9 through Thursday, November 19. Four academic teachers on the team are in quarantine. Those teachers will deliver instruction remotely.
A Chartwells food service staff member tested positive. School officials say no other Chartwells employees, no students, and no staff were at risk of exposure, as all other Chartwells staff around the employee were fully masked, wore gloves, and were more than six feet away at all times.
November 6: The Weston Public School district announced that a high school staff member tested positive. As a result, 17 staff members and one student have been asked to quarantine. The high school has shifted into a full distance learning mode until November 13.
A fifth-grade student case at Weston Intermediate School has also been confirmed. Contact tracing is underway. The district says the exposure may reach into the third grade. The school will be all-distance on Thursday and Friday as tracing continues.
At Hurlbutt, a staff member tested positive. Contact tracing is complete, some individuals are quarantining. The school building will remain open.
At the Middle School, a seventh grade student tested positive following a contact outside of school grounds. The district reports that advice from the health district indicates it is safe for the school to remain open. However, 17 students and four staff members have been asked to quarantine.
In October: On October 29, the school district announced that a staff member at Weston Intermediate School tested positive for Covid-19, an exposure that occurred off-campus. District officials said a review determined there was no risk of exposure on school grounds to students or staff.
Earlier, the school district reported that, over the weekend, a number of Weston High School ninth and tenth graders came into contact with a student from a neighboring town who tested positive.
The district said the contact occurred at an away sporting event. 19 Weston student athletes, now asked to quarantine, were in contact with the positive student case.
Previously, word came that a Weston Middle School student and a Weston High School student tested positive for Covid-19. Contact tracing was conducted.
As a result, according to principals Lisa Wolak and Dan Doak, 13 Weston High School students and staff and 10 from Weston Middle School have been asked to test and go into 14-day quarantine.
Earlier in the month, two school staff members tested positive, but contact tracing found no evidence of a spread. No building closures were found necessary. Days later, a confirmed case at Weston Intermediate School caused a one-day closure while contact tracing was conducted. The building reopened, but, according to Principal Pattie Falber, 39 students and staff were asked to self-quarantine.
Exposures have also affected youth sports teams. Two Weston Soccer Club coaches were in direct contact with a confirmed case. One coach tested positive, the other negative. Both were asked to go into 14-day quarantine. After contact tracing was conducted, games and practices were canceled for the Pre-K Boys and U11 Boys Travel teams. In total, 29 players were advised to quarantine and be tested.
Red Alert cities and towns
As of February 18, 138 of Connecticut’s 169 cities and towns are on the Red Alert list. The following towns are not in Red Alert status. Those in Fairfield County are highlighted in blue:
Barkhamsted, Bethany, Bridgewater, Canaan, Canton, Cornwall, Deep River, Eastford, Essex, Farmington, Franklin, Goshen, Granby, Haddam, Hartland, Hebron, Kent, Lebanon, New Hartford, Norfolk, Old Lyme, Pomfret, Portland, Redding, Salisbury, Scotland, Sherman, Southbury, Warren, Winchester, and Woodbury.
Cities and towns are added to the weekly Red Alert list when their average daily Covid-19 case rate over the last two weeks is greater than 15 (per 100,000 of population).