STONINGTON — The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases within Stonington and other communities belonging to the Ledge Light Health District continues to decline as the state draws closer to loosening COVID-19 restrictions.
Officials in Stonington and North Stonington attributed the success to community compliance with social distancing and said vigilance and continued adherence to safety precautions will be necessary to continue to curb the spread.
Stonington First Selectman Danielle Chesebrough said in a weekly message to the public that Stonington Town Hall and Stonington Human Services will also continue to operate in an “appointment only” model in the coming weeks as the vaccination rollout continues. The goal remains to be able to open both to general visits later this spring, officials said.
"In southeastern Connecticut, including Stonington, we are still experiencing higher numbers than we did in April and we all need to do our part to protect each other," Chesebrough said this week.
According to the latest data from Ledge Light Health District, the number of confirmed and suspected cases spiked with a high of 878 new cases diagnosed over a two-week period ending Jan. 9.
Since that time, the district has reported five consecutive weeks of decline, with the number of new cases over a two-week period falling to just 273 new cases for the week ending Feb. 13. Stonington has also reported four consecutive weeks of decline, a promising sign heading into the spring months, while North Stonington has largely managed to stave off any significant spike in the number of new cases week over week.
The state Department of Health statistics show Stonington had 78 new cases over the past two weeks. The figures show significant decline from 115 in the two-week period ending Feb. 6 and 152 for the two-week period ending Jan. 30.
Data for the week ending Feb. 20 has not been released.
The number of cases in North Stonington has remained steady, meanwhile, with data showing 27 new cases reported for the week ending Feb. 13.
The turn comes at a good time for the school district, which saw a large majority of the Wheeler middle and high school students return to a four day per week in-person learning schedule on Monday, with the elementary school implementing the four-day system on Tuesday. Students will continue to learn from home via virtual classes on Wednesdays to allow for enhanced facility sanitation.
“The school will be using the media center and cafeteria in the old school building to help with distancing requirements due to COVID-19,” North Stonington First Selectman Michael Urgo said in his weekly update. “We are excited to see everyone back in school every day except Wednesdays now. Great work to the staff and teachers for their continued perseverance during these unprecedented times.”
In the coming weeks, both Chesebrough and Urgo said the towns will work to continue to disseminate information regarding vaccination efforts and encourage residents to consider receiving the vaccine if eligible to do so. Both said widespread vaccination will be essential to returning to a more normal way of life.
In the coming months, Connecticut is prepared to roll out an age-based eligibility system designed to help facilitate mass vaccination. The state released a list of eligibility dates on Monday that provides vaccination opportunities for all state residents ages 16 and older before the end of May.
Beginning March 1, anyone aged 55 to 64 will be allowed to get a COVID-19 vaccine. That group will be followed by people 45-54 on March 22; 35-44 on April 12; and everyone else 34 years and younger on May 3.
The only exception to the rollout will be for pre-K-12 school staff, including teachers, and professional child care providers. That group, which is estimated to include about 100,000 people in Connecticut, will be allowed to get their shots in March at dedicated clinics set up for them. No specific date has been announced yet.
“One of the priorities in the entire pandemic has been to keep school operations going and minimize shutdowns and keep kids in the classroom because we know that’s the best outcome,” Max Reiss, spokesman for Gov. Ned Lamont, told The Associated Press on Monday.
All vaccinations by all providers are by appointment only. Officials said those eligible to be vaccinated can also visit the following websites to look for an available vaccination appointment:
Community Health Center and some other vaccine providers use a CDC system called Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS) to schedule vaccination appointments. If you are eligible, visit https://dphsubmissions.ct.gov/OnlineVaccine to begin the VAMS registration process.
Hartford Healthcare uses a system called MyChartPlus to schedule vaccination appointments. Those eligible may visit https://mychartplus.org/mychart/signup for more information.
Yale-New Haven Health System uses their portal to schedule vaccination appointments. Those eligible may sign up at https://www.ynhhs.org/patient-care/covid-19/vaccine/get-your-covid-vaccine.aspx.
CVS in Waterford is now offering COVID vaccinations through their scheduling system. Those eligible for vaccination may visit https://www.cvs.com/immunizations/covid-19-vaccine?icid=cvs-home-hero1-banner-1-link2-coronavirus-vaccine to sign up.
Additional information regarding other vaccination opportunities, the vaccine roll-out and other COVID-19 data can be found at https://llhd.org/coronavirus-covid-19-situation/covid-19-vaccine/.
To assist the general public, the Town of Stonington website maintains a page designed to provide residents with information related to vaccination timelines, eligibility and more. The site, which was launched in mid-January, is updated regularly as new information is made available through federal and state channels.
For more information, visit the town’s dedicated COVID-19 page at https://www.stonington-ct.gov/home/news/covid-19-community-update-2-18-21.