'Not to scare you', Orange first selectman says COVID-19 cases shoot up, possible exposure in Town Hall

Orange Town Hall.

Orange Town Hall.

Hearst Connecticut Media file photo /

ORANGE  – COVID-19 cases are way up, with at least 42 cases and there has been a “possible exposure” in Town Hall this week leading several offices there to close, according to First Selectman Jim Zeoli.

Zeoli, who could not be reached for comment Friday morning, wrote on Facebook that in the beginning of October, “we had less than a half dozen active cases, we currently (November 5) have 42 active case that the Health Dept is aware of and some that have not been reported to them as of this time.”

Zeoli wrote that the age impact is “across the board,” but the age range in the early 20s to mid-30s is climbing. He wrote that the group is the most “socially active part of our population.”

“This post is not to scare you, but to inform you,” Zeoli wrote, telling residents, “Follow the basic guidelines and help yourself.”

He wrote that several offices are closed in Town Hall because some employees are in quarantine, some getting tested.

Zeoli advised that anyone with business in the building call 203-891-4737 before coming to Town Hall to see whether the office they are visiting is open.

The Amity District this week also reported two new cases, including at Amity High School in Woodbridge and Amity Middle School in Orange.

On Thursday, Amity Superintendent of Schools Jennifer Byars, sent an email to parents notifying them that a person tested positive at Amity Middle School in Orange and the last time they were at the school was Wednesday. On Wednesday she notified parents that a positive case was reported at the regional high school in Woodbridge and the last day that person was in school was Monday.

Some people in Orange and around the state where COVID-19 cases are up, received emails from the state’s Department of Health Thursday, that said: “You’re receiving this email because our records show you have an address in a town in Connecticut experiencing an increase in COVID-19 cases. The Department of Public Health (DPH) has issued a public health alert, and we want to make sure that you have the information you need to stay safe and healthy - and ensure that our state beats COVID-19.”

The email gives this advice:

- Get tested for COVID-19 if you live in a Red or Orange Alert town; even if you’re asymptomatic.

- Stay home if you feel sick, or if you have been exposed to someone who has, or may have COVID-19. The only reason to leave your home in this case is to get tested for COVID-19. You should plan to quarantine for 14 days from the day you were exposed to the virus. If you need support - like access to food, money, or housing - in order to quarantine, talk with the contact tracer in touch with you, or call 211.

- Continue to follow public health guidelines - and continue to enforce them in your workplaces. If you have not been exposed to anyone, and are not experiencing symptoms, you should still get tested for COVID-19 if you live in a red, or orange alert town.

Gov. Ned Lamont tightened statewide restrictions Thursday, limiting private indoor and outdoor social gatherings to 10 people and recommending a statewide curfew — as 60 percent of Connecticut residents are now living in a COVID-19 “red alert zone.”

The state released a health advisory on Thursday, urging all residents to stay home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. except for essential trips, due to a high rate of COVID transmission from “informal private gatherings.”

Lamont set strict limits for restaurants, ordering that they close by 9:30 p.m., return to a maximum of 50 percent from 75 percent and allow no more than eight people at a table. On Thursday, citing conversations with industry leaders, he pushed the closing limit back to 10 p.m. and said customers must be served by 9:30 p.m.

That was part of a rollback to a version of Phase 2 of the state’s reopening, with reductions on the allowable size of gatherings such as weddings at professionally managed event venues — to 50 people outdoors, from 150. Indoor limits remain at 25.

The restrictions take effect Friday but any events scheduled previously are allowed to go on as planned this weekend.

Connecticut colleges have been disciplining students for holding or attending large gatherings, including some that officials say have led to the spread of the coronavirus.

Quinnipiac University in Hamden suspended in-person classes this week after 55 new COVID-19 cases were reported. That came after the school sent about 20 students home last week for attending a large Halloween party at New Haven’s Anthony’s Ocean View, which has since been closed for violating COVID-19 guidelines.

Lamont also placed new restrictions on youth sports, banning travel out of state or hosting of competitors from other states, while the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference announced it would delay the start of the winter high school season, which was set to begin practices Nov. 21.

The daily positivity rate stood at 3.73 percent, according to the state’s data. Hospitalizations for the virus were also up, with a net six additional patients, bringing the statewide total to 380. Eleven more deaths attributed to the disease were reported, increasing the statewide toll to 4,656.

The governor’s office also released on Thursday the latest list of municipalities on the COVID alert list, a color-coded system that measures the coronavirus spread in each community.