NORWICH, Conn — Town and health officials held a press conference Thursday afternoon to address a recent community spike in coronavirus cases.
According to Dr. William Hogan, of Backus Hospital, the positivity rate in Norwich is around 9 percent, which is well over the state's reported 1 percent.
The town's school district announced at the press conference that all Norwich Public Schools will transition to remote learning for two weeks following the recent spike.
According to officials, this is community spread and there have been no transmission in the schools, however remote learning is scheduled to continue through Monday, October 19.
Health officials also urged residents to wear masks, use hand sanitizer and get tested.
23 per 100,000 is the current rate that people are testing positive for COVID-19, health officials said.
“This is serious,” Mayor Peter Nystrom said.
Several free events will be held in the area over the weekend in an effort to get people tested and informed.
On Friday, free testing will be available across from Dodd stadium. Backus Hospital officials announced they have provided 30,000 mobile COVID-19 tests since the beginning of the pandemic.
Mayor Nystrom also noted that he does not support traditional trick-or-treating events this year. His comments come shortly after the CT DPH released its Halloween guidance amid coronavirus concerns.
“A bag of candy isn’t worth somebody’s life," Nystrom said explaining that safety should be a priority.
Later Thursday evening, the CT Department of Health issued a COVID-19 Alert for Norwich. A list of free testing centers was released in the area for people.
“This is a significant increase in cases in Norwich we need to focus everyone’s attention on,” said Acting DPH Commissioner Deidre S. Gifford, MD MPH. “We appreciate the partnership with municipal leaders in Norwich and the Uncas Health District, as well as those health care providers that have testing sites available for members of the community. We are urging anyone who thinks they may have been exposed to get tested as soon as possible and isolate if you test positive and stay at home for 14 days if you have been exposed. If you are over the age of 60 or have a chronic disease and live in Norwich, you should stay home as much as possible.”
Commissioner Gifford continued, “We need employers to help make sure everyone with symptoms or who was exposed is staying home and not coming to work. Anyone who needs resources such as food or financial assistance in order to stay home should call 211 because there are resources available. It is also very important to answer your phone if a contact tracer reaches out to you, so we can help you manage your exposure. We can limit spread of the virus if we all work together.”
Watch full Facebook Live coverage of the press conference below.