Vaccines have begun to be administered and there is light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to the pandemic. But the town, state, and country are still dealing with the realities of the deadly virus, and will be for some time to come.
That was the message delivered by Chesprocott Health District Director Maura Esposito who, at the Town Council meeting on Jan. 12, provided an update on how the community is dealing with COVID-19.
“Cheshire currently, by the state website, has 1,297 cases and 35 deaths,” she informed Councilors. “Over 15,000 people in our community have taken a test for the virus, and about 8% of those have been positive for COVID-19. … Overall right now, New Haven County has 294 people currently hospitalized.”
Esposito reiterated that new cases are mainly coming from family gatherings, and she warned that positive tests are likely to increase now that the holiday season is over, before a possible downward trend is seen.
Throughout the pandemic, Chesprocott Health District has been working diligently on contact tracing whenever an individual tests positive for the virus and, along with the Medical Reserve Corps volunteers, are now helping to run the newly established vaccine clinic at the Town Pool.
“Our clinics are operating based on the number of vaccines we receive,” Esposito explained. “The clinic at the pool has been a fantastic setup, and I have 206 MRC volunteers operating the clinic, 127 of which are Cheshire residents. … So far, two clinics have been held — one on January 2 where 95 Phase 1A residents were vaccinated, and (another) on Jan. 6 where 192 people were vaccinated.”
Esposito confirmed that the next clinics are scheduled for Jan. 30 and Feb. 3, where second doses of the vaccine will be administered to those who’ve already received the first dose.
“Sixty-one Cheshire Fire Department volunteers and 29 Cheshire Police Department officers were vaccinated as well,” she added. “Phase 1A is on a very slow roll, and we are going to soon transition into Phase 1B. Right now, most of the vaccines are being sent to pharmacies and hospitals (and not Town Health Departments), so we get whatever they send us. We put in a request on December 28 for more doses and we were denied, and the last large order we did get only had 100 doses.”
The state recently clarified who will be eligible to be vaccinated under Phase 1B, which is expected to begin at the end of this month. Chesprocott, on its website, has indicated that those who are 75 years of age and older can now schedule a time to receive their first shots, however they warn that, due to the “scarce supply of the vaccine,” it will take some time before everyone receives their doses.
“I know my older residents are worried and I don’t want you to panic,” said Esposito. “It is coming. We must remain strong and vigilant. I don’t receive any advanced notice on how they will be vaccinated, but they will get the vaccine.”
Esposito then fielded questions from the Council, many of whom asked about the overall efficacy of the vaccine. Esposito clarified that there is much that remains unknown due to how new the science is.
“Answers will come in time,” she said. “People will be followed and monitored by the CDC for their reactions and what happens over a long period. Studies will likely continue for years, the long-term effects are still unknown.”