Written by By Dr. Stephanie Paulmeno, DNP, RN, NHA, CPH, CCM, CDPPublic Health Education Specialist at the Greenwich Department of Health
The COVID-19 pandemic first hit Connecticut on March 8, 2020. It began spreading across the state from that time forward.
Hartford, New Haven and Fairfield Counties have been the hardest hit, with each jockeying for the #1 spot on this unfortunate list, which depicts positivity rates, the numbers of people being hospitalized, and the numbers of those who have died.
On January 7th Connecticut was nearing its highest numbers since the pandemic began, but we have been steadily falling over the last week. We all hope this will persist, but viruses shift and drift and if that happens again, that could alter the picture. The highest positivity rate we have seen since 2022 began was 24.55% (Jan 7, 2022), and that, too, has been falling (ct.gov/coronavirus).
Could we have peaked here in Connecticut? Time, circumstances, and individual compliance with common sense public health measures will reveal the answer. It is important to note that people who test positive on home test kits are not calculated into our positivity rates because those figures are not reported to the state. We do not know how many people were home-tested, nor how many of them tested positive.
By December 30, 2021, Connecticut had suffered the tragic loss of 9,160 people due to COVID. By January 13, 2022,161 more COVID-deaths had occurred in Connecticut bringing our total and staggering loss to 9,442 since March 2020.
These are not just faceless figures; each number represents a family member, friend, neighbor, or loved one, including some of our children and young adults. It is hard to capture the magnitude of these numbers without a
visual barometer. The First Congregational Church of Old Greenwich had created a tribute many months ago showing the numbers of our lost souls. It impacted me so much that I took a picture of it, and we are higher now than at that time. Our deaths continue to mount daily.
Some of our COVID-cases were hospitalized because of serious COVID illness, but others were hospitalized for other reasons and were found to also have COVID. While significant as a piece of information, we need to remember that we do not yet fully know the impact of the long term effects of a COVID infection, including ones that were mild or completely asymptomatic.
Esteemed medical groups have enlightened us on what is being seen physically, mentally, and cognitively in patients even months after COVID infections have seemingly cleared. This is the case even in children and adults with mild or no symptoms. I urge you to open these links and read what our clinical experts are seeing so you can
make wise and informed decisions about whether or not to get you or your children vaccinated.
(Mayo Clinic, COVID-19 Long Term Effects)
(Johns Hopkins Medicine, COVID ‘Long Haulers’: Long-Term Effects of COVID-19)
The CDC (Jan 13, 2022) reported that 90.6% of Connecticut had received at least one vaccine dose, which is good, but not good enough to reduce the above figures. Just 75.5% of us are fully vaccinated, leaving 24.5% still having that 18.6% higher risk of dying from COVID (usafacts.org). Governor Ned Lamont’s Weekly COVID-19 Update Report (January 14, 2022) identified that unvaccinated folks had a 3.4 times greater risk of testing positive for COVID-19 and a 18.6 times greater rate of dying from COVID 19 than do fully vaccinated people. That should be sobering.
It should motivate individual self-preservation, yet it doesn’t do that. Everyone 5 years of age and older is eligible to be vaccinated, yet many children remain unvaccinated and therefore at risk. Every woman who is pregnant or who want to become pregnant now or in the future is urged to get vaccinated (AMA, AAP, ACOG, CDC, NYU Langone Health, Johns Hopkins Medicine, American Academy of Family Physicians). In Greenwich 83.2% of folks have initiated their vaccine series, but initiated does not afford the protection of being fully vaccinated.
Personal Protection Guidance
Our daily new cases here in Greenwich are extremely high. The Omicron variant’s high transmissibility is clearly evident. Health Director Caroline Baisley noted that the surging numbers are tipping the scales locally, on our own home front. The Greenwich Department of Health received over 1,400 new contact tracing cases in one week. This represented cases found from laboratory-tested samples, not those identified on home test kits, which are not brought to our attention. When calls are made to homes, there are often more ill people than are on our lists because others have home tested, or did not test because they knew COVID was in their homes. The Department’s
contact tracers are overwhelmed trying to stay on top of the surging numbers, and to offer the support, guidance,
case monitoring, referrals, and resources that are part of the contact tracing program.
Director Baisley urges Greenwich residents to protect themselves and their families with common sense guidelines:
• Get fully vaccinated and boosted.
• Wear a mask wherever you go.
• Sanitize frequently touched surfaces.
• If you go out keep your mask on except when eating and drinking.
• Avoid crowds, especially indoor crowds or groups.
• Maintain social separation; preferably at a 6 foot distance.
• Wash or sanitize your hands thoroughly and often and keep your hands off the outside of your mask and off your face.
• If you are sick, do not go to work or school. Get tested and stay home.
• If you have a fever, do not return to work or school until you are fever-free without fever-reducing medications for 24 hours.
• If you have confirmed COVID, stay in isolation until you are cleared.
• Answer the phone when the Contact Tracer calls. If you have been confirmed to have COVID, and you live in Greenwich, your call is coming.
To find a vaccination site in Connecticut go to https://portal.ct.gov/Vaccine-Portal?language=en_US
To find a testing site in Connecticut go to:
To download your Vaccine Immunization Record go to the CT-WIZ at the CT Vaccine Portal