Danbury officials said Tuesday that contact tracing shows COVID-19 has spiked in the city due to residents traveling elsewhere in the U.S. and overseas, and now it’s now spreading within the community through sporting events and gatherings at religious institutions.
The city is on high alert after reporting 55 positive coronavirus tests on Friday and 22 on Monday. At a news conference Tuesday, Mayor Mark Boughton said the city has taken multiple measures to reduce the spread.
“We really only have a week and a half to do it,” said Boughton. “Once a week and a half goes by, if you haven’t taken the right steps, if you haven’t done the right thing, it’s like a runaway freight train. That’s why we are here today.”
Boughton said the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will close the Lattins Cove boat launch at Candlewood Lake to stop younger residents from gathering and partying on boats. He also shut down fields and other sports facilities after seeing no social distancing or masks at a recent youth practice.
Gov. Ned Lamont said the mayor is doing the right thing by reinstating these strict protocols.
“We are going to come down hard on upticks like this,” said Lamont. “We have had maybe 1 percent positivity throughout the state, and 6 or 7 percent in Danbury.”
Boughton said some residents who have dual citizenship have been traveling internationally, and the virus is spreading within households. Although small family gatherings are permitted under state guidelines, residents are being asked to hold off for now.
“We’ve seen barbecues with 10, 15 people, aunts and uncles, kids and parents,” said Boughton. “We’ve seen the spread going on there. So we’ve asked people, the governor’s asked people, to think twice about having those kinds of events until we get over the hump and get our arms around this.”
City officials are also urging residents to pick up their phones if contacted by the health department as contact tracing continues.
“If we have cooperation from everyone, then I believe that we can work together to stop the spread,” said acting Director of Public Health Kara Prunty. “We are really reminding everyone if they are feeling ill to really isolate from their family members in their homes and take precautions.”
Boughton said officials also have seen the virus spread mostly through the area that remained without power the longest after this month’s tropical storm.
High school sports practices have been suspended in Danbury due to the spike, and the school district will not return to in-person learning until at least Oct. 1.