CONNECTICUT, USA — Connecticut has a new key indicator to illustrate towns and cities that are facing COVID-19 spikes.
In October, the state revealed a new alert map highlighting where Coronavirus is more widely spread. A town or city gets a "Red Alert" when its average daily rate of new cases of COVID-19 for the past two weeks hits 15 or more cases per 100,000 people.
Ten to 14 cases per 100,000 put a town at the orange level. Five to nine cases per 100,000 classify a town as yellow. Less than five is grey.
As of January 7, there are 164 towns out of 169 in the state designated as red zone alert level. The towns in the gray zones are Canaan, Colebrook, Kent, Union, and Warren.
When a municipality is in the red, the Connecticut Department of Public Health will issue a public health alert. It will also encourage testing for asymptomatic residents. People considered "high risk" should stay home, according to the state. People should limit trips outside of their home, and avoid gatherings with non-family members.
Communities in the red are urged to cancel public events and limit community gathering points. The state recommends all indoor activities be postponed, as well as outdoor activities where mask wearing and social distancing isn't possible.
DPH recommends local school districts consider more distance learning options for red communities.
The state also gives towns and cities to revert back to Phase Two business restrictions.
On October 29 Gov. Ned Lamont announced towns at the orange level have the option to also revert back to Phase Two.
When a town is in orange DPH holds a weekly call with local officials and testing is encouraged for asymptomatic residents. Similar to the red alert, high-risk people in orange alert towns are encouraged to stay home. People should avoid larger events and limit time with non-family members. Communities are urged to scale back public events. Group sizes should be limited and indoor activities where mask-wearing or social distancing cannot be maintained should be postponed. The DPH urges schools in orange zones to maximize spacing, mask wearing, ventilation and hygiene to support in-person learning. Businesses would be in Phase Three but with "enhanced enforcement," according to DPH.
When at town is in a yellow alert DPH will do outreach to the local health department covering that town. Individuals are urged to continue wearing masks, practice social distancing, and take extra precautions, especially for high-risk individuals. Town leaders are asked by DPH to scale up public awareness of the COVID-19 threat, including on social media.
Schools in yellow communities are urged to reinforce and monitor safety measures with staff, students and families.