Connecticut remains one of the states where COVID-19 transmission and cases have continued to see an increase.
As the state continues to battle the virus, individual towns are doing their best to address the needs of their residents. At the April 13 Town Council meeting, Maura Esposito, director of Chesprocott Health District, provided an update on Cheshire’s efforts against the virus.
“Currently right now, our positive cases are up to 1,823 (since the start of the pandemic),” she began. “This past week, and that’s since Saturday, we’ve had 70 (new) cases. We’ve had over a dozen teachers and students testing positive. (So) although right now we’ve been really slow and steady, I do anticipate that will be reflected in the next upcoming week’s numbers.”
Esposito attributes the spike in cases to variants.
“The state of Connecticut has several variants that are invading, especially Cheshire,” she said. “Cheshire has had the B17 (variant), but there’s the B135, B1, B1427—you name it. There’s a lot of variants.”
Chesprocott has been ramping up contact tracing measures to address this current spike, and they are trying especially to trace educators and students.
“We are working again really closely with the schools because unfortunately we are doing large amounts of quarantining due to sports exposures, baptismal exposures, and weddings, because we’re all out and about—that is how it’s happening,” she continued. “I know that many of us as Town employees have gotten their vaccines, but vaccines are not 100% effective.”
Esposito reiterated the importance of social distancing guidelines and wearing masks as the best method of protection against the virus.
Esposito then addressed the recent news regarding the halt of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines by the Centers for Disease Control after six individuals showed signs of a deadly blood clotting condition.
“The J&J shot is on pause for now, but just for perspective, J&J has given 6.8 million doses in the United States, and they have found six cases of a rare blood clot,” she said. “Just so you know every one of those six cases were women aged 18 to 48, and they had symptoms that occurred between six and 13 days after their vaccination.”
Esposito went on to say that anyone who has received the Johnson & Johnson vaccination and develops a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks of receiving the vaccination should immediately contact their primary care provider.
Councilor Tim Slocum asked Esposito if the cases that are coming up are of vaccinated individuals who have contracted the virus, or non-vaccinated individuals. Esposito confirmed that the new cases she and her team are seeing are coming from non-vaccinated residents.
Slocum also asked Esposito if Cheshire would begin to see any form of herd immunity some time soon.
“Unfortunately, while herd immunity was a goal in the beginning, we would need to see numbers like 60 or 70% of the population vaccinated and we just don’t have those numbers,” Esposito admitted. “We have such a high rate of vaccine hesitancy and, with all the new variants, we won’t be reaching herd immunity any time soon.”