State moves several towns, cities to 'Red Alert' status due to high number of coronavirus cases

Published on Thursday, 5 November 2020 18:05


Bristol, Plainville, Newington, Berlin, Southington and Plymouth all have been moved to Red Alert status.

There are currently 112 cities and towns in Red or Orange status in the state including New Britain, which turned red on Oct. 30.

City officials joined a Community Alert conference call this afternoon with state officials from the Governor’s Office, the Department of Economic and Community Development, and the Department of Public Health, in which the status was updated.

The Department of Public Health bases the status on total number of cases divided by 14 days for a daily average. That daily average is then divided by a town’s population and then multiplied by 100,000. Towns over 15% per 100,000 are moved to Red.

Bristol Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu said she and Health Director Marco Palmeri, Superintendent Catherine Carbone, and Deputy Superintendent Michael Dietter had “a debrief call” after the weekly state conference call.

Zoppo-Sassu said Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island are collectively issuing a Public Health Advisory for people to stay home from 10 p.m. through 5 a.m. unless they are essential workers, grocery shopping, or picking up medications.

“The entire state will be rolling back to Phase 2.1 which requires restaurants to close at 9:30 p.m. Professional venues now have reduced capacity for 25 indoors and 50 outdoors. Churches are now limited to 100,” she said.

She is encouraging community members to avoid large events and limit time with non-family members.

“We will be encouraging groups, clubs, and youth sports organizations to postpone and/or cancel events. All groups should only conduct activities where masks and social distancing can be maintained,” she said. “Residents with underlying chronic health conditions are encouraged to stay home and limit interactions with others,” she added.

The Bristol Public schools will continue to enforce protocols that allow them to do in-person learning.

“Dr. Carbone reports that there have been no new cases within Bristol Public Schools over the last two days,” said Zoppo-Sassu.

On Nov. 12, the high schools will transition those students who have been in the hybrid model of combined virtual and in person learning to transition back to in person learning.

“ Those high school students who are in the virtual learning program will remain there until the end of November when that will be re-evaluated,” Zoppo-Sassu said. “With the return of the hybrid learners, the high schools will be at approximately 63% capacity, which will allow the school staff to spread out the students.”

According to Zoppo-Sassu, youth sports including private club sports, interscholastic, and leagues are prohibited from traveling out of state for tournaments.

“ For all in-state tournaments, reduced spectator capacity and social distancing must be employed, and all teams should be prepared to submit rosters with contact information to the local health districts in the event that contact tracing must occur,” Zoppo-Sassu said.

“ The City Council and I have been working with the Governor’s Office to identify resources to add additional testing sites to Bristol,” she said. “Currently, the Community Health Centers is offering free PCR testing (results take two to three days) from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday – Friday.”

She said Wheeler Clinic is continuing its pop-up outdoor testing sites on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., rotating between the high schools. On Nov. 11 and 25, testing will be at Bristol Eastern. On Nov. 18, it will be at Bristol Central.

“ We encourage everyone to be tested, even if they are asymptomatic,” she concluded.

In Plainville, Town Manager Robert E. Lee said that the town will be making information available on social media and with a press release.

"We are at red status, not doing code red," said Plainville Town Manager Robert E. Lee. "The governor has issued executive order 9-K and that requires all municipalities regardless of status to go back to Phase 2 with modifications. We will publicize this information on social media and with a press release. Right now Code Red is not as necessary as it was two weeks ago."

Southington Town Manager Mark Sciota could not be reached for comment. He sent an email to town staff with a statement and information from the Plainville-Southington Regional Health District, which was provided to the Press.

" The number of COVID-19 confirmed positive cases continues to rise throughout Connecticut. Southington also has seen an uptick in positive cases in the community. The Plainville Southington Health District (PSHD) reminds residents to stay vigilant in practicing preventive measures. Wear masks appropriately, maintain social distance, and practice good hand hygiene. These measures will help to slow the spread of this contagious virus. To date, Connecticut has reported 75,373 positive cases and 4, 645 deaths statewide. Of the confirmed positive cases, 526 have been in Southington residents," he said in a release. “We encourage residents to be vigilant and not let their guard down when it comes to this virus,” said Shane Lockwood, PSHD Director of Health. “To slow the spread of the virus, we need to work together and adhere to the CDC preventive guidance.”

Newington was classified in Red Alert status by state health officials as well.

Newington Mayor Beth DelBuono told the Herald Thursday evening that the Central Connecticut Health District had been keeping town staff in the loop on coronavirus updates and recommendations.

“The director, Charles Brown, has been giving us regular updates at our town council meetings and is in even more frequent contact with our town manager,” the mayor said. “He’s been very clear with us that we need to be promoting safe behaviors in our residents. We want to make sure people remember the three W’s: Wash your hands, Wear a mask and Watch your distance.”

Furthermore, Newington has closed its Town Hall facility to the public due to the recent uptick in virus cases in town.

“Employees are still working in the building but it is not open to the public at this point,” DelBuono explained. “We hope people will call and arrange appointments or conduct their business some other way than in-person.”

The Lucy Robbins Welles Library adjacent to Town Hall reopened to the public by appointment only this November. Town staff have decided to resume the library’s curbside pickup service beginning this Monday, Nov. 9, closing the facility to visitors once again. Additionally, parks and recreation staff are working with health officials on a plan for programming and events. A decision on possible delays or cancellations is expected early next week.

Erica Drzewiecki and Brian M. Johnson contributed to this story.

Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol, Plainville, Southington Herald on Thursday, 5 November 2020 18:05. Updated: Thursday, 5 November 2020 18:07.