Health care providers gathered together in Hartford on Monday afternoon to call on residents to follow coronavirus guidelines and safety restrictions over the Thanksgiving and winter holidays, amid a rise in COVID-19 cases statewide.
"We are at a critical period during this pandemic when the number of cases is trending upward rapidly," Hartford mayor Luke Bronin said. Bronin said the city is focused on avoiding having the health care system feel a strain similar to that currently being felt in other states.
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Dr. David Shapiro from Saint Francis Hospital said while he is grateful for the celebration of health care workers during the pandemic, he said now the heroes are everyone in the community.
"The real hero is you now," Shapiro said urging everyone to wear masks and social distance, even during the holidays. "Heroes wear masks and please remember to wear yours," he said.
Health care workers are asking people to take a step back from their families and holiday celebrations this year and remain vigilant, said Keith Grant, senior director of infection prevention at Hartford HealthCare.
"This is all up to the citizens of Connecticut," Grant said.
The mayor encouraged residents to stay home where possible and support local retail stores online on Black Friday, rather than going in stores.
"It’s about saving lives. And I want you to live. I want to live," said Hiram Otero, whose father died of COVID-19 in May.
"I think this year it’s more important to celebrate with the people that you love in your home safely," said Chinequia Bailey, who lost her mother in April.
The mayor said that he understands that it's frustrating to be nine months into the pandemic, to see that the months ahead are going to be long and difficult and not to be able to gather with all your loved ones this year.
The state warns that the risk of spreading COVID-19 has become higher, Connecticut is seeing a spike in cases and several factors contribute to the holidays being a high-risk time to spread the virus.
That includes traveling to communities with high concentration of COVID-19 cases; gathering indoors or outdoors with friends and family outside of your local area; participating in larger, longer gatherings; traveling for long periods of time in enclosed spaces like buses or airplanes; and not wearing masks or not social distancing around family members and close friends.