Coronavirus uptick in West Haven alters City Hall business
WEST HAVEN - An uptick in COVID-19 cases, including those connected with University of New Haven, has prompted Mayor Nancy R. Rossi to pause all appointments at City Hall beginning Tuesday, with the situation to be reassessed next week, according to the city.
“West Haven is experiencing an increase in infections and currently has more than 40 positive cases of COVID-19. The city has now been designated a ‘caution-yellow’ municipality by the state Department of Public Health,” according to a statement from the city.
“Many of these cases are at the University of New Haven. UNH has instituted mandatory quarantines and is following state protocol to deal with the virus upsurge. The city is working with the university to address the situation,” it read.
The university website says there were 81 active student COVID cases as of Monday and two staff cases, and that 42 of the cases were new in the last seven days. The university had 401 people in on-campus quarantine as of Monday.
“The quarantine numbers can fluctuate as the contact tracing process is completed for new cases and as some students choose to go home for quarantine,” according to the UNH COVID reporting site.
Further, UNH was at the “orange” alert level, meaning, “New cases on campus are increasing and may continue to do so for the next few days.”
“The University of New Haven is committed to transparency as it communicates information pertaining to COVID-19 to all members of our community,” according to the UNH COVID reporting site.
UNH COVID Coordinator Summer McGee said in an email Tuesday the university’s testing positivity rate has dropped from 6.5 percent to 4.4 percent over the last two weeks. She said UNH is doing 950 on-campus tests per week through the Yale New Haven Health System and this week added saliva-based testing with SalivaDirect from Yale School of Medicine.
“Last week we tested 35 percent of all our residential students and will test the remainder this week,” McGee wrote. “We presently have 232 residential students and 100 commuter students in quarantine.”
She said the two university employees who tested positive did so as a result of off-campus, non-work-related exposures.
“Through all of our contact tracing over the last two weeks, there has been no evidence that transmission has been taking place in classrooms, laboratories, or our on-campus recreation facilities,” McGee wrote.
McGee said the university’s operational status presently is at Orange Alert level, which means that on-ground instruction is paused to allow for time for testing and contact tracing. Campus dining is carryout only, and campus events and activities are postponed, she said.
“The support of our campus community has been remarkable during this period,” McGee said. “We have a ‘Support Squad’ adopting students in isolation, making calls and supporting them throughout their 10-day period.”
McGee said all of the university’s COVID cases have been mild except for one moderate case, and there have been no COVID-related hospitalizations this semester.
Gov. New Lamont also made changes in the state’s COVID policies on quarantine Monday, just as Connecticut passed the threshold of 10 cases per day per 100,000 people for the last seven days.
Rossi said in the statement that the city would pause all appointments in City Hall beginning Oct. 20 through the end of the week, then reassess. Outside windows will stay open for the Tax Assessment and Tax Collection departments and the City Clerk’s office.
“West Haven residents have been very cooperative and have followed the recommended local, state, and national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention directives and guidance,” Rossi said in the statement.
She said that West Haven had “very low infection rates” over the summer, and thanked residents for their “assistance, support and compassion” for neighbors.
Rossi also urged residents to “continue to remain vigilant and follow public health recommendations” now that it’s autumn with colder weather, in-person education and more indoor activities and events.
“Like all our residents, I look forward to the end of this crisis and the return to a sense of normalcy in our personal lives and within our community,” Rossi wrote.
Anyone with coronavirus concerns should contact Health Director Maureen Lillis or Emergency Management Operations at 203-937-3500, ext. 3830, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.