Wilton monitors contact tracing during coronavirus pandemic

COVID-19 cases in Wilton have increased significantly in the past two weeks. Early on in the pandemic, Merwin Meadows was closed to visitors but reopened for the summer.

COVID-19 cases in Wilton have increased significantly in the past two weeks. Early on in the pandemic, Merwin Meadows was closed to visitors but reopened for the summer.

Patricia Gay /Hearst Connecticut Media /

WILTON — The number of reported cases of the coronavirus in Wilton is up to 221 as of July 2. That’s 14 additional cases since June 16, according to the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH).

The reported coronavirus death toll in Wilton remains at 41, no change since June 16.

There were 46,717 total cases of the coronavirus in Connecticut as of July 3, with 95 current hospitalizations and 4,335 total deaths.

Contact tracing

First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice said the town does not have complete confidence in the DPH’s case numbers. “Wilton Health Department contact tracers are aware of positive cases that haven’t yet appeared in the CT DPH system,” she said in a message on the town’s website.

She said the DPH has informed the town that some rapid testing centers are not current with their reporting of positive cases to the state. “These facts mean it is critical residents report a positive Coronavirus test result to the Health Department by calling or emailing barry.bogle@wiltonct.org. All information is confidential,” she said.

The town of Wilton’s policy on contact tracing:

Contact Tracing: Members of the Wilton Health Department and nurses from the Visiting Nurses Association of Fairfield County perform contact tracing on all reported cases. Contact tracing is performed in order to identify individuals who have been exposed to a patient who has tested positive with the virus. The identified individual(s) should monitor for symptoms and self-isolate. This minimizes the opportunity for the virus to spread to more people. Patients, or the parent in the case of a minor patient, are asked to provide the name and contact information of individuals with whom they have been in contact. These individuals are contacted by health department personnel or the VNA nurses. Patients are not required to cooperate, but most do. The information received is kept confidential.

Asking Residents to Report Positive Tests: Because there is often a lag of a few days between when the testing lab reports a positive case to CT DPH and when CT DPH provides the health separtment with the patient data, residents are asked to contact the health department when they receive a positive test result. This allowa the department to perform contact tracing in a more timely manner.

Monitoring Facilities/Organizations Where Residents Gather: The health separtment maintains contact with facilities/organizations where residents gather. Those facilities have been advised of the recent increase in cases and are working with the health director to minimize any additional spread. Parks and Recreation Director Steve Pierce is reaching out to the youth sports organizations to keep them informed.

Restricting Access: Use of sports fields is limited to Wilton residents and Wilton youth sports organizations. There will be no field rentals to private or out-of-town organizations. Access to Merwin Meadows will continue to be restricted to Wilton residents only.

“When speaking with the identified contacts, our contact tracers do not disclose the identity of the patient,” Vanderslice said. “Patients should not have to disclose their health status while wanting to help control the spread. Contact tracers allow patients to help confidentially.”

The town specifically hired nurses as contact tracers. “They are well versed on the Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), which protects the confidentiality of health information,” Vanderslice said.