[Note: This article has been updated to say the state is discussing prioritizing vaccinations for 65- to 74-year-olds next.]
New Canaan is seeing new positive cases of COVID-19 virus trend down week-by-week, Health Director Jenn Eielson said Thursday, and the state recently doubled the number of vaccinations made available to the town.
The town saw a “sustained high” in cases starting in early November, and that’s been changing recently, “so this is good progress,” Eielson told members of the Health & Human Services Commission during their regular meeting, held via videoconference.
“But we knew that was going to happen with the holidays and gatherings,” she said. “So this is good news.”
In offering COVID testing with Waveny LifeCare Network, the town is seeing about 92% of open slots filled up, which is “great news,” Eielson said.
“People are still testing and wanting to be tested. And then vaccinations, the week of Jan 19th we did 100, the following week 100 because that’s what we were allocated. Last week with the help of [First Selectman] Kevin [Moynihan] and [state Rep.] Tom O’Dea (R-125th) we were able to double the allocation to 200, which was huge, which is what we were able to do yesterday and going forward for the next two weeks, we are pretty much guaranteed that same 200. We could ask for more and if they have more they’ll give it, but at least we know it’s stabilized a little which helps me with planning.”
The comments came during a general update from Eielson on COVID-19 virus and vaccination planning. Last week, she and other town officials voiced a desire for a higher allocation of vaccination shots in New Canaan.
“From what we are seeing, there isn’t this huge gap of people that haven’t been [vaccinated] that meet the age requirement right now,” Eielson said, referring to those 75-and-older. “The state is talking about moving in the next week to 10 days to [ages] 65 to 74.”
Commissioners during Thursday’s meeting asked how those who have had the first of two shots in the vaccination sequence will coordinate a time to get the second one (the Health Department will contact you), what percentage of New Canaan’s 75-and-over population has already received at least the first part of the vaccination (68% as of Wednesday, though that doesn’t include some numbers from this week), how many people New Canaan is reported to have who are 75 or older (about 1,440 by the state’s count), what can be done to urge those who are qualified to receive a vaccination but haven’t got one to get a shot (nothing can be done in violation of federal privacy laws) and whether local officials have any information on variants of COVID-19 virus (not really, there are only two labs in Connecticut that test for it).
Eielson thanked several municipal workers, departments and volunteers for aiding in the effort to continue seeing local people tested and to ensure that those who are qualified are signing up to get vaccinated. She thanked Human Services Director Bethany Zaro and Commission Chair Dr. Harrison Pierce for their help in getting people vaccinated, the New Canaan IT Department for creating an online form that helps get names into a spreadsheet, Health Department Sanitarian Chris Wegrzyn and Human Services Program Coordinator Enza Albano for assisting those coming to Lapham Community Center in filling out their forms while remaining socially distant, as well as Barb Achenbaum of Staying Put in New Canaan and the Getabout.
“It’s been going very smoothly and the seniors are very appreciative,” Eielson said.
“It’s been a true collaborative effort of everybody.”