Moynihan Details COVID-19 Community Transmission Signs; Two More Confirmed Cases Over Weekend [UPDATE]

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[Note: This article was updated at 9 a.m. Tuesday with information regarding a new positive COVID-19 case residing in New Canaan.]

New Canaan has had two more confirmed cases of COVID-19 virus reported since Friday, state health data show.

The uptick—to 217 total cases, according to the Connecticut Department of Public Health—follows the detailing by New Canaan’s highest elected official of signs of community transmission of coronavirus disease. 

The town had nine new positive COVID cases reported last week, First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said during a town-wide outcall Friday. Echoing New Canaan Health Director Jenn Eielson, he noted that despite one-off positive cases in the public schools, the district has not seen the virus spread among those within its buildings.

“[W]e must remain vigilant in protecting our students and faculty in order to keep our schools open,” Moynihan said.

It wasn’t immediately clear what ages the two new cases represent or whether the individuals are related to each other. Reached by NewCanaanite.com, Moynihan said that four total new cases had been reported over the weekend—double the figure in the state’s published numbers—and that one of them was new since his outcall. Reached Tuesday, Eielson said that one new case is a college-aged individual residing and quarantining in New Canaan.

Of last week’s nine new positive cases, six were “of varying ages,” including one whose family member had tested positive in the prior two weeks, Moynihan said in the outcall.

Eielson during a Thursday meeting of the Health & Human Services Commission said the lack of a link among the new cases is “kind of indicating community transmission is back, and a little bit on the rise.” That was to be expected, she said, given that greater numbers of residents are spending time in proximity to each other, she said, with families back from summer vacation, schools back in session and youth sports reconvened. 

As of Saturday, the district’s continuously updated “Charting Our Course” operations guide for COVID-19 showed that zero students were isolating because they’d tested positive for the virus, while one member of New Canaan High School staff was isolating after testing positive, as was one staffer at West School, and those in quarantine due to “close contact” with a positive case—within six feet for 15 minutes or more—included 12 NCHS staffers and three from West School, as well as 10 NCHS students, one Saxe student, two students from East School and 13 from West.

During Thursday’s Health & Human Services meeting, Eielson in response to a question about whether there had been any cases out of preschools responded no. She appeared to be distinguishing between the presence of a COVID-positive child in a preschool and that child’s contraction of the virus in the preschool itself—a distinction whose importance at least some parents questioned (n addition to inspecting restaurants and salons, sanitarians with the Health Department conduct unannounced inspections at local nursery schools, citing violations they find).

Moynihan also appeared to be carefully choosing his words during Friday’s outcall, saying at one point, “Therefore, while the virus is present in our community we are not seeing community transmission at our schools.”

Moynihan has been doing the town-wide outcalls himself since June 3, when he ousted then-Emergency Management Director Mike Handler for reasons unknown. Handler through years of leading New Canaan’s Emergency Operations Center had earned a reputation of professionalism and respect among colleagues and received praise from residents for candid reporting of health data in the early weeks of COVID.

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