Wilton is on ‘orange alert’ due to COVID with 15 new cases

WILTON — With 15 new cases of COVID-19 reported yesterday, Wilton has now been named one of the state’s “orange alert” communities.

The state Department of Health (DPH) issues an “orange alert” for municipalities with 10-14 new cases of COVID per day per 100,000 people.

Thursday’s report of 15 new cases brings Wilton’s total to 41 in the past six days and 49 in the past 10. There have been 71 cases from Oct. 1 through Nov. 5, with a total 42 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Wilton’s known new cases ranged from ages 2 to 45. Cases included spread through sports, childcare and within households. Seven cases were reported in the past seven days at one assisted living facility, compared to 19 cases in the previous seven days, First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice said on the town’s website.

She said Wilton Health Department personnel are monitoring residents who have been exposed to the virus.

Nearby towns also on “orange alert” include Ridgefield, Redding, Westport, New Canaan, Darien and Fairfield.

Norwalk, Stamford and Bridgeport are on “red alert,” the highest alert level because they have more than 15 new cases per day per 100,000 people.

The state calculated Wilton’s “orange alert” based on the two weeks ending Nov 5. At that time, 18 cases of COVID were reported the first week — the week beginning Oct. 18 — and 16 in the second, the week beginning Oct. 25, for an average of 13.2 cases per 100,000 in Wilton.

“The spread is happening very quickly,” Vanderslice said on the town’s website. “As was demonstrated in the spring, it takes much longer to bring down the spread than it takes to increase the spread. If you have stopped doing so, it is now critical to behave as if you have the virus and as if those around you do as well.”

At the Board of Education meeting on Thursday evening, Superintendent of Schools Kevin Smith expressed concern regarding the recent jump in cases. Across the district, there had only been three positive cases detected in the schools, but on Wednesday, there were reports of three new cases at Cider Mill and one in Miller-Driscoll.

As of Thursday evening, Smith said Cider Mill and Miller-Driscoll would continue being open to all students four days a week and Middlebrook and Wilton High School would remain open with a hybrid model. But he issued a warning.

“We know this is an incredibly dynamic situation. Those recommendations could change tomorrow,” he said.

“I absolutely see our ecosystem here as being pretty fragile,” he said, adding there have been numerous reports of secondary exposures from outside the schools in the general community, sports events and within families.

There have been 335 reported cases of COVID-19 in Wilton since the onset of the pandemic, 128 additional since June 16, when Phase 2 reopening was implemented, and 135 since May 19, the beginning of Phase 1.

Statewide, as of Nov. 2, there were 74,843 total reported cases of COVID, with 381 patients currently hospitalized for the virus, and 4,635 total deaths.

State advisory

The CT DPH Commissioner is advising residents to stay at home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless going to work, shopping for groceries or going to medical appointments.

The commissioner also recommended, but did not mandate:

 Those over age 60, and anyone with a chronic disease or obesity who are at higher risk for complications of COVID-19 take extra precautions and limit non-essential trips outside your home;

 Employers allow work-from-home as much as possible;

 Non-essential social or community gatherings of any size for any reason (e.g., parties, community meetings, celebrations or other social events) end by 9:30 p.m. or otherwise be canceled or postponed at this time;

 Everyone maintain at least a 6-foot distance from those who do not live with you;

 Everyone wear a mask whenever you leave home and wear a mask inside your home if someone from outside your household is visiting;

 Everyone clean their hands frequently using soap and water, hand sanitizer, or isopropyl alcohol wipes. Washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds works best. Avoid touching your face; and

 Families and loved ones should limit visitation to long-term care facilities.

New restrictions

With COVID on the rise throughout the state, Gov. Ned Lamont issued Executive Order 9K which takes effect today, moving the state back to a modified version of Phase 2 with the following new restrictions:

  Mandatory closing times: Restaurants, entertainment and recreation venues and indoor and outdoor commercial venues must close by 10 p.m., seven days a week. Events previously scheduled for this weekend are grandfathered.

  Restaurants: No more than eight persons per table. Up to 50-percent capacity with six-foot distancing.

  Private resident-gathering size: Capped at 10 indoors and outdoors.

  Commercial venue-gathering size: Capped at 25 indoors and 50 outdoors.

In addition, the commissioner of Economic and Community Development is authorized to establish mandatory rules for the safe conduct of youth sports.

Jeannette Ross contributed to this report.