On October 22, 2020, the City was notified that it reached “red-alert” status per the State Department of Health. The alert is based on having more than 15 positive COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over a two week period. The State DPH reports Norwalk having 18.9 cases per 100,000 residents for the time period of 10/4 – 10/17.
“We’ve been staying on top of the case trends and saw this increase coming. That is why we proactively implemented the state’s recommendations for communities in a red-alert level well before this notification,” Mayor Rilling said. “We have upped our testing, sent out more community messages, and discouraged public events and non-essential trips. This is a serious situation and we must remain vigilant. I am asking for the public’s help to slow this virus down. Please avoid parties and gatherings, always wear a face covering, and keep your social distance.”
Last week, the State unveiled its COVID-19 alert map, which is updated each week. Norwalk is one of 19 communities listed in a “red-alert” category by DPH this week, up from 11 communities last week. There are also now 23 communities in the “orange-alert” category, up from 14 last week.
The DPH has a list of recommendations for communities in a yellow, orange, or red status. Norwalk has already implemented a majority of the recommendations from the DPH, including encouraging high risk individuals to stay home, issuing CodeRED calls, and discouraging gatherings and events, such as for Halloween.
Communities in a “red-alert” status have an option to roll back from Phase 3 into Phase 2. Some differences between the two phases relate to capacity, and allow for an increase in indoor capacity at restaurants, personal services, events, private gatherings, and recreational events. Mayor Rilling will be discussing this with his staff and neighboring communities on Friday, October 23, with a decision expected before the weekend.
“I will make tough decisions to keep the community safe, but right now, the data isn’t telling us that Phase 3 is causing increased cases in the community. What we are seeing is people being too relaxed and not following public health guidelines,” Mayor Rilling said. “Having an individual community make this decision doesn’t make much sense in a state as small as Connecticut. Our residents work in other towns, commute across the state, and visit other attractions and restaurants. If we roll back to Phase 2, I fear that will not help keep Norwalk residents healthy, and will just hurt our local businesses. I hope the state will reconsider this town-by-town approach before things get much worse.”
Throughout the pandemic, the Norwalk Health Department and Norwalk Police Department have conducted spot checks of local businesses to ensure compliance with the reopening guidelines outlined by the state. Most issues have been minor, and have been easily corrected with help from the Health Department.
Mayor Rilling continues to use the City’s CodeRED Emergency Alert Notification System to share important messages with the public. Residents are encouraged to sign up at norwalkct.org/codered.