The number of weekly cases of COVID-19 in Hartford has risen, according to the mayor’s office, and if the trend continues, the city will shift its schools to a hybrid learning model.
As of Oct. 4. Hartford reported 3,435 cases of COVID-19, 168 deaths and a case rate per 100,000 as 2,802.
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said there has been more testing - from around 400 people tested per day to an average of 1,000 people a day in September. While more testing will obviously identify more cases, officials are concerned with the increase in the positivity rate, which was holding steady until about the last two weeks. Bronin said over the last seven days, the city has seen a positivity rate of 2.6%.
With that in mind, Bronin said if the upward trend continues, Hartford Public Schools will shift from their current in-person learning model to a hybrid model on October 19. The decision is not final, and officials plan to give an update and more specifics on October 12.
City officials also reminded residents of the importance of taking all necessary precautions to reduce the level of community spread. Bronin said they have seen some reluctance by residents to work with contact tracers, and stressed that the investigation is only meant to protect the community. There are no penalties or repercussions involved in contact tracing investigations, Bronin said.
Hartford's Director of Health Liany Arroyo said contact tracers do not reveal the names of people who tested positive for the virus when reaching out to close contacts, and that no one should be concerned about their immigration status when speaking with contact tracers.
Arroyo also said city health officials are working closely with Hartford Public Schools to identify and monitor COVID-19 cases. They are working on making more testing available in the schools.
"It is our goal to keep schools open for as long as we can," she said.
Superintendent Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez said they have seen 32 positive cases in the district - 22 students and 10 staff members. They have not identified transmission within schools, and found that most cases are in K-8 schools, with some coming from students in the same family.
Currently, students pre-K-9 are attending school in-person, while 10-12 were working off a hybrid model, with the exception of students who opted for fully remote. If the switch takes effect, pre-K-9 students will switch to a hybrid model and the older students will go all remote, Torres-Rodriguez said.