Norwalk officials: Recent COVID spike connected to Halloween

Registered Nurse Nichelle Dyer administers the COVID-19 vaccine to local children including Ava Spergel, 10, as her mom, Elvira Spergel, assists during the Norwalk Community Health Center clinic Saturday, November 13, 2021, in Norwalk, Conn.

Registered Nurse Nichelle Dyer administers the COVID-19 vaccine to local children including Ava Spergel, 10, as her mom, Elvira Spergel, assists during the Norwalk Community Health Center clinic Saturday, November 13, 2021, in Norwalk, Conn.

Erik Trautmann / Hearst Connecticut Media

NORWALK — With a citywide increase in COVID-19 cases over the past week, Norwalk officials believe the spike is due to Halloween festivities and worry the trend may continue into the winter holidays.

Norwalk had 66 new coronavirus cases this week and a slight increase in test positivity rate, according Department of Public Health data.

Based on CDC guidelines, everyone in Fairfield County, and any county with a substantial or high transmission rate, should wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status.

Several counties in Connecticut, including Hartford, New Haven and Litchfield counties are within this transmission rate, according to the CDC case-tracker.

While Fairfield County remains in the substantial transmission rate as of Friday, Norwalk’s cases are trending in a negative direction.

Statewide, there were 241 Connecticut residents hospitalized with COVID as of Friday, while three weeks ago there were 191 hospitalizations, Mayor Harry Rilling said in his weekly COVID-19 update.

Norwalk now has 5.7 cases per 100,000 residents from Oct. 31 to Nov. 13, an increase of 0.7 from last week’s report.

New cases were popping up more among younger populations, but the latest numbers show most new cases are among people 30 to 49 and 60 to 69, according to DPH data. Residents 30 to 39 account for 20 percent of new COVID cases in Norwalk.

“I do not want to be an alarmist, but I do want to raise awareness of the local health situation,” Rilling wrote. “We are heading full speed into the major winter holidays, which could be a perfect recipe for an exponential growth of cases and increased community transmission if we are not careful.”

Rilling warned about an increase in travel expected across the country in the coming weeks and encouraged residents to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and, for those eligible, to get a booster shot.

“Thanksgiving is next week, and there is expected to be significant travel around the country and internationally,” Rilling said. “Looking beyond Thanksgiving next week, Christmas Day is about five weeks away. That means if someone has not yet received the vaccine, that to be considered fully vaccinated by Christmas morning in the case of the Pfizer vaccine, one will need to get their first dose tomorrow.”

As COVID cases can develop in the weeks following exposure and contraction, the recent rise in cases may be linked to Halloween, city spokesperson Josh Morgan said.

“Cases are on the rise which is likely the result of Halloween social gatherings,” Morgan said. “... Data reporting is usually a couple weeks behind. We encourage people to be cautious and wear a mask if they’re in indoor public settings.”

On Thursday, the city reinforced its encouragement of indoor masking, despite not imposing another masking mandate. The previous mask mandate was lifted on Nov. 4.

In a social media post shared Thursday morning, Norwalk noted after two weeks of moderate COVID-19 transmission for Fairfield County, the CDC reported the county has substantial transmission.

Morgan encouraged unvaccinated Norwalkers to get the vaccine, and those who received their second dose more than six months ago to get a booster shot.

“This is important as the weather cools, people move indoors, and we head into a busy holiday season,” he said.

abigail.brone@hearstmediact.com