Lamont says COVID-19 hits peak in Fairfield County; NVHD reports first coronavirus-related death of Naugatuck resident  

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By Paul Hughes and Elio Gugliotti, Staff

As the state pointed to signs that the coronavirus outbreak has peaked in hard-hit Fairfield County, the Naugatuck Valley Health District on Monday reported the first COVID-19-associated death of a Naugatuck resident.

The health district said the Naugatuck woman was in her 80s and it was unknown whether she may have had underlying health issues. Deaths associated with the coronavirus are defined as patients who tested positive for COVID-19 around the time of death.

The Naugatuck Valley Health District reported there have been 120 laboratory-confirmed cases of coronavirus in Naugatuck and 24 in Beacon Falls since the outbreak started.

The health district said there have been 808 confirmed cases and 77 coronavirus-related deaths of residents within its jurisdiction of Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Derby, Naugatuck, Seymour and Shelton. Sixty-four of the people who died were residents of nursing homes or assisted living facilities. The hardest hit municipality is Shelton, where the district reported 61 people tested positive for the coronavirus around the time they died.

The Chesprocott Health District, which covers Cheshire, Prospect and Wolcott, reported there have been 193 laboratory-confirmed cases within its jurisdiction, including 31 in Prospect. The health district reported 11 coronavirus-related deaths in its jurisdiction, six in Cheshire and five in Wolcott.

THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK HAS PEAKED in Fairfield County where the contagion first surfaced in Connecticut a little more than a month ago, Gov. Ned Lamont said.

Lamont reported the development Monday as the number of laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 19,815 statewide, including 8,320 in Fairfield County.

The updated daily statistics showed a sharp increase of 1,853 positive tests and 204 deaths from Sunday that Lamont attributed largely to recent changes in how the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Prevention tracks COVID-19 statistics.

Also, the number of hospitalizations increased slightly after two days of consecutive decreases. There was a net increase of 22 patients between new admissions and discharges.

“Over the weekend we went down, and that hasn’t happened two days in a row since the start of the crisis,” Lamont said.

He reinforced how changes in the hospitalization rate and increased testing will be integral to his administration’s planning for the reopening of Connecticut.

THE LIBERTARIAN PARTY OF CONNECTICUT organized a protest Monday afternoon in Hartford against Lamont’s executive orders requiring nonessential businesses to close during the coronavirus pandemic.

The demonstration kicked off as the governor was wrapping up his daily briefing during which he again defended the business closings and urged patience.

Lamont was asked about the protest and the complaints that his executives orders overreached.

“I can respond by saying you have seen evidence that our executive orders and the social distancing, thanks to the amazing people of the state of Connecticut, are working, that we are beginning to bend the curve at least in the southern part of the state, and this is no time to take our eye off the ball,” he said.

LAMONT CITED DECLINING HOSPITALIZATIONS in Fairfield County as proof of that growing success as the coronavirus continued to spread.

He highlighted a line chart showing how hospitalizations had steadily increased to approximately 800 patients since the first confirmed case on March 8 and then started dropping last week.

“You can see there we’ve definitely bent the curve on the way down, hit the apex,” Lamont said. “I think we feel fairly confident about that.”

He said the decline in hospitalizations also likely means the rate of infection is also decelerating in Fairfield County.

Through Monday afternoon, there were 733 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 in Fairfield County hospitals, down a net 13 patients from the total reported Sunday. This was still the most out of the state’s eight counties, though.

The number of reported COVID-19 deaths there increased by 65 to 512 people. The county’s death toll represented nearly 40% of the 1,331 fatalities recorded across the state in the pandemic.

The laboratory-confirmed cases also increased from 7,343 that were reported on Sunday to 8,320 on Monday. The county’s total accounted for slightly more than 40% of all positive cases in the state.

THE CORONAVIRUS HIT FIRST in Fairfield County because of its shared border with Westchester County in neighboring New York state and its proximity to New York City, two of the hot zones in the pandemic.

Lamont said the peak in Fairfield County is running a week to 10 days behind New York City, now considered the COVID-19 epicenter for the United States.

He said the viral outbreak is expected to peak now in New Haven County. He estimated a lag time there of a week to 10 days behind Fairfield County’s peak.

The state reported 5,272 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Haven County on Monday, and 301 deaths were reported there. There was a net decline of seven patients in the county’s hospitals to 626.

After New Haven County, Lamont said Hartford County is expected to reach its apex. He expressed concerns about developments there.

There were 3,823 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Hartford County on Monday, an increase of 522 from Sunday. The number of fatalities increased by 68 to 363 deaths on Monday. This was the second most behind Fairfield County.

The number of hospitalizations in Hartford County were up a net 35 patients to 455 on Monday.

Lamont said he is worried about COVID-19 spreading from Massachusetts into Hartford County and Eastern Connecticut.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has said the state is in the middle of a surge of patients.

There were more than 1,500 new COVID-19 cases reported in Massachusetts Monday, bringing the state’s total to more than 39,600 confirmed cases since the start of the outbreak. The number of related deaths to 1,809, an increase of 103 from the previous day.

Lamont also announced his administration is partnering with a group of scientists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and other research institutions who have developed a new app to provide more information about the spread of COVID-19.

He said Connecticut is the first state to officially partner with the developers of the HowWeFeel.org app, which will allow users to anonymously track and report their COVID-19 symptoms. He encouraged people to download the app, noting it does not require logging in or sharing any personal information, such as name or email address.