Fairfield officials: Nursing homes hit hard by coronavirus, some restrictions to be lifted
FAIRFIELD — Early restrictions officials put in place last month to combat spread of the coronavirus have shown success, according to Fairfield officials, and some restrictions will be lessened soon.
But while the case rate in Fairfield has been lower than in surrounding towns, nursing homes have still been hit proportionally harder.
Health Department Director Sands Cleary said that while 27 percent of the town’s coronavirus cases have been nursing home residents, they made up 76 percent of coronavirus related deaths.
He said every nursing home in town has had coronavirus cases and deaths.
“As you know, these are our most vulnerable residents who are at the highest risk for severe outcomes from this illness,” Cleary said. “We must continue our work to protect them and all the residents and workers of Fairfield.”
Cleary said that, as of Thursday afternoon, there were 335 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Fairfield and 38 deaths connected to the illness.
“As you know, there are likely many more cases out in the community amongst those who are either unable to get tested or do not experience any significant symptoms and have recovered without medical intervention,” he said.
The health director said the different models used to predict the peak number of cases in Fairfield varies. Some models say the peak has passed; others put it some time at the end of May.
“One of the primary variables that influence when that peak occurs is how strictly people adhere to social distancing,” Cleary said, “the isolation of the ill and the quarantine protocols for those who are exposed to the ill.”
He said precautionary measures at some level will have to continue until a vaccine is developed.
“It is important to remember that, whether we are at the peak, just after the peak or still a few weeks from the peak, that we have several more weeks where significant social distancing meausres are likely to stay in place,” Cleary said.
First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick said early social distancing efforts and the closure of town public spaces contributed to the lower number of cases and deaths in town.
“According to the Connecticut Department of Health, Fairfield’s case rate is 538 per 100,000,” Kupchick said. “Only Easton, Monroe and Newtown have lower case rates. Fairfield currently has the lowest case rate in all of Fairfield County coastal towns in the I-95 Metro North corridor.”
For that reason, Kupchick said, she and the town Emergency Management Team have been working on a plan to lift some restrictions. She said more details will be released early next week.
“The approach we are taking is data driven, and will not be governed by emotion,” Kupchick said. “What I do want residents to know, is that we will be limiting access to certain town spaces to Fairfield residents only.”
Cleary said it was important to remember that this peak will most likely be the first of two or three to happen over the next year.
“As we get more data to confirm that this peak is behind us, and that hospitals have the capacity to care for patients, we will begin the process of cautiously lifting a few of the measures that have been put in place starting with those that are least likely to cause an increase in cases,” Cleary said.
Activities could include walking or hiking in town parks or beaches and opening golf courses. He said it is very likely that no mass gatherings will be allowed for quite some time.