By Dr. Stephanie Paulmeno, DNP, RN, NHA, CPH, CCM, CDP
COVID cases in Greenwich have been surging again with around 200 new (reported) cases occurring each week for the last couple of weeks. With home testing in play (the results of which are not reported to the State) the actual number of COVID-positive cases we are seeing, it would seem, is much higher than the figures indicate based on contact tracing and monitoring calls to the families of infected children and adults. In many cases, one person is reported as sick based on the laboratory PCR test result that we receive, but the rest of the family has tested positive on home testing, and often all are ill. They fly under the radar and are never reflected in our COVID numbers (or positivity rate) for the town or the state. In Connecticut our positivity rate today is 8.92% (however below 5% is the acceptable threshold); an additional 157 people have been hospitalized in the last week and 14 additional deaths have occurred statewide. Based on today’s State of Connecticut figures, when compared to a vaccinated person, an unvaccinated person is twice as likely to become infected, twice as likely to die from a COVID-19 infection, and 4 times as likely to require hospitalization if they become infected. (Governor Lamont’s daily update 4-28-22; https://ct.gov/coronavirus)
Greenwich Department of Health staff and Greenwich Medical Reserve Corps volunteer contact tracers were mobilized and updated on the surging cases last week by the Director of Health. Tracking forms and protocols have been modified so that the small public health staff can make the essential contact with each person and record the critical information in a timely manner. Contact tracers and case monitors are again in high gear working to reach every case on the day on which that case is received. Fortunately the cases of late have tended to be Omicron sub-variants (BA.1 and BA.20), which tend to have mild symptoms, but the Omicron sub-variants are much more contagious than the Delta variant had been. As a result we have far more people becoming COVID-infected, but they are generally mildly ill. Because of the greater numbers of infected people, though, we have proportionally greater numbers of people requiring hospitalization, and some of them do die. These tend to be older people and people with underlying health conditions including immune-compromised people. As of April 22, 2022, seven Greenwich people were hospitalized with COVID at Greenwich Hospital (Selectman Fred Camillo’s weekly report) with additional folks hospitalized in Stamford, when that is their hospital of choice.
Since March 2020, 12,516 people in Greenwich have contracted COVID in one variant form or another and 122 of our Greenwich friends and loved ones have died from COVID (Selectman Camillo’s weekly report 4-22-22). Data varies from community to community, but it has shown that people who are unvaccinated and unboosted are 21times more likely than a vaccinated person to succumb to their COVID infections and 7 times more likely to require being hospitalized with COVID disease (Health Director Caroline Baisley, News Release 4-25-22)
The public health experts at the Greenwich Town Hall are urging the elderly, those with underlying health conditions, and those who are immunocompromised as a result of illness, medication impact, or the effects of immune-compromising treatments to get vaccinated, boosted and 2nd boosted. We don’t know how rapidly or how high our figures could go, but we do know that few people are wearing masks, many more people are mingling together in indoor settings, schools, and restaurants, and many businesses have stopped requiring mask-use and social distancing. We know that COVID-acquired immunity and vaccine and booster effectiveness wanes over time, so those who were ill or vaccinated over 4 months ago may have lesser immunity than they think. Many schools have just returned from spring break and many families took trips. We know from the heavy contact tracing being done again now by public health workers that many families with currently infected children and adults had mingled with local families and friends, and had traveled widely over the Easter, Passover and Ramadan break.
We also know that many are no longer wearing masks or socially separating, which is not a good mix with soaring COVID case rates and steadily rising positivity rates.
We cannot predict if or how quickly cases could increase, but we do know that while people in Greenwich have generally good vaccination rates, they have not been so good at getting boosted. Many of our youngest vaccine eligible residents have never been vaccinated at all leaving them vulnerable, and we still have all children under 5 who are not yet vaccine-eligible. Many in Greenwich have forgone their masks when in public places leaving themselves and others at risk. You do not know who around you is in a compromised state, and you may not even know if you are infected with COVID. While figures fluctuate based on community data, the most recent COVID surge indicated that those who were vaccinated and boosted were 21 times less likely to die from their COVID infection than those who were not vaccinated, and they were 7 times less likely to require hospitalization during their illness (Caroline Baisley, Greenwich Free Press News Release 4-25-22
Greenwich to Offer Covid-19 Moderna Vaccine Booster Clinic April 25, 2022
In order to meet the Greenwich community’s public health need, the Greenwich Department of Health will hold a first and second Moderna Booster clinic on May 4 from 1:00pm to 4:00pm at the Greenwich Town Hall; 101 Field Point Road, Greenwich, CT 06830 (Lower Level).
Please enter the building through the front door and take the elevator to the lower level. You will need to register in advance for this clinic, which is a solely a first and second Booster Clinic for people 18 and older who have already been vaccinated, and who want to get either their first or second booster shot of the Moderna vaccine. You can get a Moderna vaccine regardless of what vaccine you took for your initial series, or for your first booster dose.
In order to be eligible for the Moderna first or second Booster shot you must:
1) Pre-register for the Moderna Booster through Connecticut’s Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS) at https://guest.vams.cdc.gov/?jurisdiction=CT
2) Be sure you are registering for either the COVID-19 first Booster Dose or the second Booster Dose according to your need.
3) Bring your vaccine card with you (electronic or hard copy). If you do not have your card you can
download a copy at: https://ctwiz.dph.ct.gov/ctwiz_public/Application/PublicPortal
4) You must wear a mask
The Director of Health’s News Release (https://greenwichfreepress.com/health/greenwich-to-offer-covid-19-moderna-vaccine-booster-clinic-179311/) contains information about who has SHOULD get boosted, who CAN CHOOSE to get boosted, who is NOT ELIGIBLE to get boosted, and what the required time frames are for getting a first or second Moderna booster shot. This depends on when your received your last vaccine or booster and what that last vaccine was, (Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson).
Moderna second Booster and second Booster clinic questions should be directed to the Greenwich Department of Health’s main number at 203-622-6488