Westport moves back into “Red Zone” with rising COVID cases

Westport’s Second Selectwoman Jen Tooker announces her candidacy for first selectman her running mate Andrea Moore Friday April 9, 2021, in front of Town Hall in Westport, Conn. Tooker makes her announcement several days after Jim Marpe said he would be stepping down as first selectman.

Westport’s Second Selectwoman Jen Tooker announces her candidacy for first selectman her running mate Andrea Moore Friday April 9, 2021, in front of Town Hall in Westport, Conn. Tooker makes her announcement several days after Jim Marpe said he would be stepping down as first selectman.

Erik Trautmann / Hearst Connecticut Media file photo

WESTPORT — The state Department of Public Health recently moved Westport back into the “red” zone, but despite the increasing numbers, town officials said they currently have no plans to reinstate any restrictions.

First Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker said Westport’s COVID-19 Emergency Management Team meets each week to monitor and assess the trends, numbers and transmission rates in Westport and while the number of cases has been rising, it is not alarming due the vaccination percentage in town.

“Although it is in the red category, Westport is fortunate that the vaccination rates are impressive and still going up, with all,” Tooker said. “For the moment, there is no compelling reason to change the current mask or gathering recommendations within the town of Westport.”

Westport’s transmission rate was at 16.5 cases per 100,000 people, according to state date on Dec. 15. The town also holds an overall 86 percent vaccination rate.

Former First Selectman Jim Marpe lifted the mask mandate for indoor public settings on Nov. 4 as COVID cases were declining. At the time, Westport Weston Health District Director of Health Mark Cooper, said the health district supported the actions as long as the local transmission rate remained low.

Cooper could not be reached for comment Wednesday about the increase.

On Friday, the state Department of Public Health moved Westport back into the red zone, the classification assigned to communities with a positivity rate of 15 cases or more per 100,000 people. At the time, all but seven communities had moved into the red zone. As of Dec. 15, every community in the state has since moved into the red zone except Washington.

According to recent data for Westport, residents 65 or older have a 94 percent full vaccination rate. Ages 45 to 64 hold a 85 percent vaccination rate. Ages 25 to 44 have a vaccination rate of 84 percent. Ages 18 to 24 currently sit at 91 percent and ages 12 to 17 have a 95 percent vaccination rate.

About 37 percent of those ages 5 to 11, the group most recently approved to receive the vaccine, are fully vaccinated with 52 percent receiving at least one dose, as of Dec. 15.

Tooker said that while the 5-to-11 age group is the only a group that doesn’t hold a vaccination rate between 85 and 95, the percentages around the group is increasing.

In fact, in a effort to increase the age group’s vaccination rates, The Wesport Public Schools recently partnered with the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Bay Street Pediatrics, Village Pediatrics, Willows Pediatric Group and the Westport Weston Health District to offer two COVID-19 vaccine clinic for Westport students within the new age bracket.

Superintendent Thomas Scarice said the clinic, which offered the Pfizer 5-11 vaccine, filled up almost “instantly.” registering nearly 1,000 K-6 students.

“We continue to urge those who are eligible to get vaccinated, get a booster, and or have eligible children between 5 and 11 get vaccinated,” Tooker said.