On Saturday morning, dozens of cars lined up outside Backus Hospital in Norwich for COVID-19 testing. The long lines come after the city announced new testing sites would be open throughout the city following an uptick in COVID-19 cases.
This week, the state's Department of Health issued a COVID-19 alert for the City of Norwich, prompting a boost in testing options for the public in hopes of mitigating the spread.
According to state data, Norwich saw more than 90 new COVID-19 cases within the past week. In early August, the city only reported about 5 new COVID cases per week. In the last eight days, 119 Norwich residents have tested positive for the coronavirus, COVID-19
In response, the city is asking the public to limit trips outside their home, wear masks when in public and to avoid large gatherings with those you don't live with.
According to the Uncas Health District, which covers Bozrah, Franklin, Griswold, Lebanon, Lisbon, Montville, Norwich, Preston, Salem, Sprague, and Voluntown, the spike in cases in Norwich has not been traced back to one location or event. Instead, the city is experiencing "community spread," making testing even more important.
"It's very important to get out there and get tested because a lot of people can be positive and not know it and be asymptomatic and put others at risk," said Judith Gaudet, a systems of care director for the Generations Family Health Center. "We want to be vigilant in testing and make sure that we're getting the word out there about how to keep yourself safe."
Norwich Public Schools and Norwich Free Academy will be in a remote learning model for the next two weeks out of an abundance of caution, according to school leaders.
Backus Hospital is also extending hours at its testing site this weekend, operating from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. Soon, the testing site at Backus will be moved to Dodd Stadium to increase capacity.