One year later: The impact of COVID-19 on Chester, Deep River, Essex
By Elizabeth Reinhart / Zip06.com • 03/16/2021 3:30 PM EST
Around the same time last year, the state of Connecticut had already declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chester and Essex declared local emergencies on March 14, 2020 while the Deep River one went into effect on March 15, 2020. In-person learning and activities for schools in Regional School District 4 were also suspended last March. .
As the first anniversary of Governor Ned Lamont’s Stay Safe-Stay Home Order draws near, which came into effect on March 23, 2020, the impact of the COVID-19 virus on the communities of Chester, Deep River and Essex is considerable. and undeniable.
Although new strains of the virus have emerged as cases of COVID-19 decline in the state, great strides have been made to vaccinate residents and provide state and federal assistance to individuals, businesses and others. other entities that have been financially affected by the pandemic.
COVID-19 in Chester, Deep River and Essex
Data collected by the State Department of Public Health shows the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in each of the cities, excluding nursing homes and assembly places, as of March 10. With a lack of testing early in the pandemic and asymptomatic cases, the actual number of cases could potentially be much higher than what has been documented.
In Chester, there have been 198 cases of COVID-19, with 14 deaths. In Deep River, data shows 255 cases, with no deaths. In Essex, data shows 384 cumulative cases, with 12 deaths. Overall, in Middlesex County, there have been 10,705 total cases and 346 deaths, according to state data.
The impact of COVID-19 on the most vulnerable populations of cities, residents of retirement homes and assisted living facilities, has also been considerable.
In Chester, 36 of the 53 residents of Aaron Manor Nursing & Rehabilitation contracted COVID-19, with 12 deaths, according to March 11 data from the State Department of Public Health. Data also shows that 13 of 41 residents contracted COVID-19, with one death at Chesterfield Health Care Center in Chester.
At Essex Meadows Health Center in Essex, 20 of 30 residents have contracted COVID-19, with 8 deaths, state data shows.
Six residents of Masonicare in Chester Village, an assisted living facility, contracted COVID-19, with one resident death at the facility, as of February 18, which was the most recent state data available. Data from the Essex Meadows assisted living facility shows a resident contracted COVID-19, without death, as of February 18.
Schools and COVID-19
After completing the previous school year with home teaching and learning, schools in the Regional School System 4 began the 2020-’21 (’21) school year in a hybrid configuration.
A hybrid model is where half of the student body attends school in person while the other half attends remotely on different days of the week. This approach allowed the school system to move students and staff to new routines required by COVID-19 safety protocols before resuming full classes in person.
These safety protocols, which are outlined by the State of Connecticut, include meeting criteria for air filtration and ventilation, use of personal protective equipment, social distancing, and hand hygiene, among other mitigation measures.
The state has made three learning models available this school year – in-person, hybrid, or distance – so schools can choose how best to respond to the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community. Parents are also allowed to opt in to have their child or children attend remotely due to COVID-19.
On October 13, 2020, schools in Region 4 returned to full in-person learning five days a week. To date, there have been several cases where positive cases of COVID-19 and the resulting quarantines of students and teachers have disrupted the functioning of the school by moving teachers and students to a format online or remotely. Sometimes it affected small groups of students and staff while at other times it was an entire school.
The state’s open data portal for COVID-19 in kindergartens to 12 shows the cumulative range of cases for each of the schools in the district. To ensure that students and staff cannot be identified in the data when schools report a low number of positive cases in a week, the state portal lists any number of cases between 1 and 5 per week as “less than 6”.
Therefore, the data does not provide an exact number of total cases, but it can be used to determine a range providing a minimum and maximum number of cases that could have occurred.
As of March 4, there had been at least 41 cases in schools in Regional School District 4, according to state data.
Despite these cases, the school system was able to maintain its commitment to operate in a full school mode and in person for most of the school year. State data indicates high school attendance in the district for school year 21, ranging from 94% to 98%, according to the state’s open data portal for K-12 schools.
“In light of the unexpected and unprecedented challenges that the pandemic has presented to our schools and the communities they serve, I am exceptionally proud of the teachers and staff at Chester, Deep River, Essex and Region 4 schools for their daily efforts. to support our students and their families, ”said Superintendent of Schools Brian White. “I am also grateful to our students and their families for their persistence and support, and I thank them for their trust in us.
“I would also like to thank our local health services as well as all other local government agencies that have partnered with our schools to support our operations,” he added.
Administration of vaccines
The state of Connecticut continues to make progress in making the COVID-19 vaccine available to residents of Chester, Deep River and Essex, currently using age-based eligibility.
As of March 8, about 31% of residents of Chester, 30% of residents of Deep River and 40% of residents of Essex had received a first dose of the vaccine, according to data from the State Department of Public Health.
Scott Martinson, director of health for the Connecticut River Area Health District (CRAHD), reported at the Deep River Board of Directors meeting on March 9 that the Old Saybrook Health District clinic had vaccinated 9 013 people.
CRAHD public health nurse Sherry Carlson introduced the clinic as a community effort during the BOS meeting.
“All of the people in our clinics are community based,” she said. “They are all delighted to be this beacon of hope and we have been dealing with sick people for a year now.”
Carlson said she plans to have all local teachers and daycares vaccinated by March 13.
“We are really delighted that on Saturday, anyone who was a teacher or worked in one of our school districts or daycares all had the opportunity to be vaccinated in private,” said Carlson.
As of March 11, data from the state’s Department of Public Health showed that about 75% of people aged 75 and older and about 22% of the total Connecticut population had received a first dose of the vaccine.
Relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions
As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues statewide and other leading health indicators associated with deaths and hospitalizations are on a downward trend, Lamont is lifting some restrictions that have been in place since the start of the pandemic.
On Friday, March 19, the state’s travel advisory will change from a requirement to a recommended direction; all sports will be allowed to practice and compete subject to the directives of the Ministry of Public Health; picking size limits will increase; and capacity limits will be removed for certain companies and entities. Safety protocols such as face coverings, social distancing and increased cleaning will remain in effect.
The lifting of some state restrictions is welcomed by business communities in Chester, Deep River and Essex, which have faced many challenges during the pandemic.
“With the easing of restrictions, some of the hardest hit industries, including the events, hospitality, restaurant and personal services industries, will be able to get back to work and breathe a sigh of relief,” said Stacie DiNello, president. from the Deep River Traders Association.
Since the start of the pandemic, DiNello said that many Deep River businesses that “were able to scale their services when restrictions were put in place have actually seen tremendous growth over the past year. We have seen successful transitions to online retail, street food and delivery service, and collaborative efforts to buy local. “
“The community of Deep River continued to support the most vulnerable in these businesses …[which] did not have the ability to convert to selling or delivering online simply because of the nature of their product or service, ”she continued.
The federal government has taken various measures since the start of the pandemic to help individuals, businesses and other entities facing financial difficulties. Last March, the federal government passed the $ 2.2 trillion federal coronavirus aid, relief and economic security law.
The most recent legislation, which was enacted on March 11, is a $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief program, which provides funds for education, low-income families and the loan program for small businesses, among others.
April 20, 2021
With Lamont’s state of emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic set to expire on April 20, the Courier asked Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman, who is also the state senator for the 33rd District, what that could mean for municipalities.
“I think state guidance takes precedence over most of what we would do anyway, and I think they’re making good decisions so far,” said Needleman, who later added that he would watch closely to see if any extensions or changes are made. made on April 20 by the Governor.
Asked about the main takeaways, a year after the onset of the pandemic, Needleman said: “There are a whole bunch of take out that are worth noting… One is that in a week or two of the pandemic and the lockdown, we had a huge percentage of Americans who didn’t have food.
Another important lesson was “to learn that these germs travel through the air and by touch, not that we are going to remain masked, gloved and locked in our homes forever, but just an awareness that things are spreading. quickly “and there are simple and preventive measures that can be taken against them.