COVID-19: Tragic losses; school closures

This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (round magenta objects) emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. SARS-CoV-2, also known as 2019-nCoV, is the virus that causes COVID-19. The virus shown was isolated from a patient in the U.S. (Courtesy of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases {NIAID}.)

NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk has lost another three citizens to COVID-19 and two more schools have switched to remote learning. Mayor Harry Rilling is forming an ad hoc committee to study vaccine distribution.

Connecticut’s daily coronavirus test rate has broken the 8 percent barrier for the first time since mid-May and is pressing dangerously close to 9 percent, Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration reported Tuesday. Rilling’s Tuesday update shows Norwalk with an 8.6 percent positivity rate for the two-week period between Nov. 22 and Dec. 5.

The state enjoyed weekly average infection rates below 1 percent for much of the summer as the worst of the outbreak — recorded in April and the first half of May — steadily retreated in the second half of May and June.

Infection rates began to climb steadily starting in late August, with outbreaks and heavier caseloads in the Danbury area and later in southeastern Connecticut.

Another 18 people died from COVID-19 statewide on Monday, lifting total fatalities since the pandemic began in early March to 5,242.

Rilling reported the local deaths Monday. One of the victims was in his or her 40s, while the others were more than 80 years old, his update indicates.

“I am so sorry to share that we have lost three more residents to COVID-19. My deepest sympathies go out to their families, friends, and loved ones. This virus continues to spread in our community, and now with more than 5,000 cases in Norwalk, virtually all of us know someone who has contracted this virus. Sadly, with 162 deaths, many of us also know of someone who has died from this virus,” Rilling said in a statement.

Nearly half of Norwalk’s schools are closed; Norwalk Public Schools website lists 11 as open and 10 closed. In addition, the Next Steps program is on remote learning, while Project Search is open.

The latest to go remote are Ponus Ridge Middle School and Silvermine Dual Language Magnet School (all students, including Grades 4 and 5 at the annex). It’s expected they will return to in-person learning on Jan. 4. They closed as a result of confirmed COVID cases and the number of staff members quarantined, NPS said.

Rilling, at Tuesday’s Council meeting, said he had spoken to Council President Nick Sacchinelli (D-At Large) “about putting together a task force or an ad hoc team that will work on the logistics for administering the vaccine, once we get clear indication from the state of Connecticut.”

“I want to make sure that we learn from the difficulties that we’re having with regard to administering the COVID-19 tests and the number of people that line up to get the test,” Rilling said.

Sacchinelli will be on the team and any Council member can join, Rilling said. The Health Department will be involved as well as a Board of Education member, Norwalk Chief of Social Services Lamond Daniels and Chief of Staff Laoise King, “so that we can work with our partners, including CVS and other health care providers who will be able to administer the vaccine under the governor’s new executive order that just came out.”

Rilling reported a total 5,118 positive test results Tuesday. There were:

  • 88 new positive cases, Sunday
  • 85 new positive cases, Monday
  • 27 new positive cases, Tuesday


More info from Rilling’s updates:

  • Drive-thru COVID-19 testing will be available from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, at Brien McMahon High School, located at 300 Highland Ave., Rilling’s update said. “No appointment, insurance, symptoms, or doctor’s note is required to get tested. This event is open to everyone, not just members of the school community. Visit norwalkct.org/testing for the latest updates.”
  • Free drive-thru COVID-19 testing is available daily 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Veteran’s Park in Norwalk. Testing will not begin until 8:30 a.m. and the public is advised not to line up early as the park does not open until 7:30 a.m. Due to high demand, testing lines may be closed periodically during the day and there may be significant wait times. Cars should not park on neighboring streets as walk-up capacity is limited. Registration forms can be filled out online and printed at chc1.com.”
  • Governor Lamont signed an executive order which authorizes licensed pharmacists to administer any coronavirus vaccine authorized by the Food and Drug Administration. Additionally, the order caps the amount that providers may charge to administer COVID-19 vaccines to help ensure no one is required to pay out-of-pocket costs. More details can be found at ct.gov.”


Norwalk Dude December 9, 2020 at 8:03 am

Here’s an idea? Maybe bring all the schools to remote learning through New Years? With almost half closed, maybe the Superintendent should realize that her plan to forcefully keep them open might not be working? Sure, there’s a vaccine coming out but we are still way far off to the average person getting it… and that’s if they really want it. Meanwhile at the schools, Covid-19 is being passed around like a class work assignment. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Nora King December 9, 2020 at 9:33 am

Covid 19 has been poorly managed by Harry and Laoise (since she is running the show) Testing is long lines and inefficient, town hall closure was never managed properly, lack of enforcement, and once again the entire structure for middle school doesn’t work. The head of the health department has this philosophy that more testing leads to complacency. Very uneducated viewpoint. We have middle schools that just close instead of following the cohort model that is supposed to be in play. The city has done nothing to support more help at the testing sites nor more administrative help at the schools. This is what the rainy-day fund is for. Emergencies!!!! Guess what – we have been in one since March 13th. Harry doesn’t grasp that concept. He is too busy letting developers run the city with poor planning and slum lords with illegal zoning. Everyone should just drive down MLK to see that apartment building that was put up. The vaccine could be months away. So now he thinks his job is done and he just needs to plan for the vaccine. How about how are we going to keep our kids in school? Has he heard that a 16-year-old just killed himself yesterday due to COVID-19 isolation? He needs a plan for the next two weeks, next four weeks and the next three months. Where is the plan? It is more than oh let’s wait for the vaccine…how are we going to manage the dark winter months? Why is there no testing at all the schools for teachers and admins? Rapid testing does have its flaws, but many successful school districts, businesses and countries are using it to stay open. He is letting people run the city that are not qualified in the health department to make the correct decisions. Just because you are a nice person (as everyone says about the leadership) doesn’t mean you are qualified to be steering the ship. He is now more focused on winning his fifth term and overstaying his welcome then working and getting the city fully functional. His voice generated message about grabbing a book and a snack and plan for a long wait to get a test is not planning or management or leadership. The fact that he doesn’t know that is crazy. The lack of planning that has come from this administration is scary.

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