As COVID-19 cases have been rising here in Connecticut and across the country, local and state health officials are concerned as we approach the holidays.
At a Bridgeport event on Monday, Governor Ned Lamont reinforced his Thanksgiving messaging: stay close to home and celebrate the holidays with your immediate family.
He said he’s looking into what can be done to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, especially as college students return home.
“I’m really worried about thousands of kids coming back from universities all over the country," Lamont said.
With that in mind, he said he’s collaborating with other states to mitigate the potential spread of the coronavirus as we approach times where we’d traditionally be traveling.
“So I’m working with the fellow governors to see if we can get some really strict guidance out, get that out to those universities. Remind those young people they probably should quarantine for two weeks before they get on that plane and test when they get here to keep our states safe and to keep our families safe," Lamont said.
Middletown’s acting Health Director Kevin Elak is also concerned about the coming holidays.
“With the mixture of the people who will be celebrating indoors and everyone’s also a little bit COVID fatigued, perhaps they’re just fed up with it," Elak said.
While he understands we all want to be with our loved ones during this time of year, he reminds us that we can’t get complacent.
“We’re going to be heading into a very challenging time the next few months and we all have to be vigilant and still take those precautions," Elak said.
People lined up for drive-through coronavirus testing in Middletown on Monday.
“With the uptick in cases, we’ve gotten very busy with the contact tracing, even one or two positive cases takes a lot of time,” Elak said.
The Middletown School District announced they’re now the first in the state to offer rapid tests in schools.
Elak tells us this ability to test folks who aren’t feeling well at school will greatly help them with their contact tracing.
“With these students going to the nurse's office with symptoms and then we’d have to send them home and sometimes it would take two to three days to get results and that really impacted our contact tracing because we couldn’t react until we knew a positive for coronavirus or if they just had some other type of illness," Elak said.
He said they’ll now know if they’ve tested positive within approximately 15 minutes.
He said this will help since he and just a few volunteers have been working to contact trace in the city. With grant money, they’ll soon be hiring someone to focus on just that full-time.
In the meantime, Middletown community members we spoke to are trying to stay safe and positive. And, they’re already pondering their upcoming holiday plans which will most likely include new traditions.
“For us, Christmas is going to be the hardest,” said Maurine Darling of Middletown. “It’s a way of family’s getting together and having a lot of fun and it’s something in my family we’ve already talked about not doing this year.”
She said their solution: “You can’t take the chance of it, so we may do a Zoom Christmas.”
Nevaeh Anderson’s mom works in a hospital so she knows the seriousness of the virus.
“We just found out that one of my family members got tested positive and they’ve all been together.” As for the holidays, “So it’s kind of hard, but we’ll figure it out," Anderson said.