Norwich Residents Urged to Get Tested After ‘Alarming' Climb in COVID-19 Cases

The state Department of Public Health issued a COVID-19 alert for Norwich due to a recent spike in cases.

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Public health leaders are tracking a spike in COVID-19 infections in the City of Norwich. Infections have increased by 92 in the last week.

The state has issued a COVID-19 alert for the city. DPH officials are encouraging the community to take extra precautions, like limiting trips away from home, wearing a face mask anytime you leave home, avoiding indoor gatherings with anyone outside your household, and avoiding large outdoor gatherings.

According to the director of health for Uncas Health District, which covers Bozrah, Franklin, Griswold, Lebanon, Lisbon, Montville, Norwich, Preston, Salem, Sprague, and Voluntown, Norwich's positivity rate for the last seven days is 6.7%. The state of Connecticut’s positive test rate as of yesterday was 1.8%, which is higher than it had been.

Governor Lamont expressed concern on Thursday over community spread in Norwich of COVID-19 that has led the state to issue an alert for the city.

Norwich Public Schools will be moving to full remote learning for two weeks, according the district's superintendent, Kristen Stringfellow.

"To date, the transmission of COVID-19 is not occurring in our schools," the superintendent said in a letter to parents. "This is a community spread issue. I am confident that we have a robust system in place in NPS to contact trace and identify symptomatic persons. With fidelity, we quarantine students and staff with symptoms and/or COVID positive
close contact."

This decision will also impact the Norwich Free Academy.

"As a result of the recent spike in positive COVID-19 cases in the city of Norwich, NFA will transition to a minimum of two weeks of remote learning beginning Friday, October 2," the NFA head of school, Brian Kelly, wrote in a letter to the school community. "This is a necessary pause for the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff. Our decision was made in collaboration with our partners at Norwich Public Schools and with the support of the Uncas Health District and local officials. This decision is not based on the factors we have seen at school, but rather what is happening in our community."

The breakdown of cases for the last week in Norwich are as follows:

  • September 24: 4 new cases
  • September 25: 10 new cases
  • September 26: 13 new cases
  • September 27: 12 new cases
  • September 28: 15 new cases
  • September 29: 26 new cases
  • September 30: 12 new cases

For comparison, in late July and early August the city was seeing about five new cases per week.

“This is across the entire city that the infections are coming in, which is alarming," said Mayor Peter Nystrom.

Nystrom said the infections are scattered throughout the city and he is asking residents to get tested as officials try to determine more about how the virus is spreading.

"We've got to nip it because we are going to be shutting our doors and our windows soon as the cold weather hits and if that growth is still taking place when we start closing up our homes, it is only going to get worse," said Nystrom.

The race is on not just to develop a coronavirus vaccine, but also determine how to distribute it ethically and efficiently. All Americans likely will have access to a developed vaccine within a year to a year and half of approval, but a CDC advisory group is recommending initial doses go to healthcare workers and high risk groups first.

This comes as public health leaders in Southeastern Connecticut track an increase in COVID-19 cases in the New London region.

Patrick McCormack, director of health for Uncas Health District, told NBC Connecticut that they are seeing new cases across a variety of age groups. They are seeing the virus spread within families.

Governor Ned Lamont said that the state will be supporting the city by providing additional resources.

"We are going to bring in the cavalry," Lamont at a news conference today. "That means doing extensive testing and track and trace. Do everything we can to track where this is coming from."

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