Danbury went 3 straight days without new coronavirus cases
DANBURY — Once a hot spot for the coronavirus, Danbury had three straight days without additional reported cases or deaths.
One new case was reported Monday. However, no new cases were reported Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“It’s very gratifying to see this and hopefully it continues to the summer,” said Dr. Paul Nee, an infectious disease specialist at Danbury Hospital and New Milford hospitals. “The challenge is going to be the fall and the winter.”
The total number of cases had stayed at 1,970 since Thursday, when one additional resident tested positive, Mayor Mark Boughton said. The number of deaths has stayed at 123 since June 6.
Boughton attributed the city’s success in quelling new cases to residents obeying measures such as social distancing and mask wearing. Health care workers also followed protocols to keep deaths down at nursing homes, he said.
“I tip my hat to Danbury residents who have followed the directions and the guidance to a T, so it’s good to see,” he said.
The numbers are a marked improvement from the height of the pandemic, when Boughton said the city saw between 50 to 70 new cases a day.
The situations in Danbury and Connecticut are vastly different from states like Arizona, California, Florida and Texas, where infection rates are climbing.
That’s largely because Connecticut residents have listened to health guidelines, Nee said.
“All of the citizens wearing the masks, doing what they needed to do to stem the spread of the coronavirus has been amazing,” he said.
Learning over time
Statewide figures from Friday put the city at No. 7 for the highest total number of cases in Connecticut, but Danbury had once been No. 3 on the list. Danbury now trails behind Bridgeport, Stamford, New Haven, Hartford, Norwalk and Waterbury. Those cities all saw increases in cases over the Fourth of July weekend.
Boughton has said the state’s numbers often lag behind the city, which gets its numbers directly from Danbury Hospital and includes residents who tested positive in New York.
“I definitely think in Connecticut we have hit the bottom of the spread,” Boughton said. “Danbury was an early hot spot, so we’re a little ahead of everyone else in the state.”
Fewer cases, in turn, has led to fewer deaths, Nee said, but medical professionals have also learned more about the virus and how to treat it.
At first, patients were hooked up to ventilators early on in the illness, but now health care workers use treatment methods such as Remdesivir, steroids and medications that prevent inflammation and blood clots, Nee said.
Since the beginning of May, no one has been intubated directly because of COVID-19 at the hospital, Nee said. He said studies will determine whether or not it was beneficial to intubate patients early.
Other states seeing surges can rely on these lessons, Nee said. “A lot of people can learn from our experiences on what to do and how to manage this.”
Risks down the line
The rising number of cases in other states are making Boughton nervous.
“Because there is such an explosive spread going on in some of these other states, it’s impossible to believe some of these people won’t come to Connecticut,” he said.
The governor has urged travelers coming from 16 states with rising infection rates to quarantine for 14 days, although this is not being strictly enforced.
Nee said patients are being screened for travel. Nuvance Health — the network that Danbury and New Milford hospitals are a part of — is monitoring symptoms and cases throughout the hospitals, he said.
He said he is optimistic the state can keep its numbers down this summer if residents continue to follow guidelines.
But transmission may rise when the weather gets colder and people stay inside in close quarters, Nee said.
“That’s going to be a challenge,” he said. “That’s where testing comes in, symptom monitoring. That’s what’s going to be key as we move forward into this and trying to separate people as best we can.”
It will also be important for people to not grow lax on the precautions, Boughton said. For example, the city will continue to keep its town park closed.
“It is something you have to keep your eye on because it’s so darn contagious that you’ve got to make sure people are not letting their guard down,” he said.
Nee said one of the biggest challenges will be containing the spread once school reopens, with the governor planning to allow all children to return the classroom full-time, as long as health conditions allow.
He said masks, testing and proper infection control measures will be key.
Danbury, which is one of the largest school districts in the state and has the biggest high school, plans to ask the state to allow the district to offer a hybrid model.
Boughton said he is optimistic the state will be on board.
“We’ll keep fighting every way we can to keep these numbers down until there is a vaccine,” he said.