Officials warn Darien to stay vigilant with 50 new COVID cases reported in less than 2 weeks

DARIEN — With holiday gatherings in full swing, town officials are warning residents to stay vigilant amid a surge in COVID-19 cases in town and across the state.

There have been 50 new cases since First Selectman Monica McNally’s last Code Red message less than two weeks ago, she wrote in a recent update.

Most people who make up the new cases are experiencing relatively mild cold-like symptoms, McNally said, adding that the major source of transmission is at-home social gatherings.

“While the number of new cases is heading in a direction that none of us want to see, the good news is that we have had zero hospitalizations to report since April,” McNally said.

The town is in good shape with its vaccination rates, Public Health Director David Knauf said during a briefing Monday.

Of Darien’s vaccine-eligible population, 92.59 percent have had at least one dose. Knauf called that number a “remarkable success.”

“We are among the leaders in the state for vaccination rates for all eligible age groups,” Knauf said.

Much of the recent spike is among children ages 5 to 11, who are just beginning to undergo vaccinations, Knauf said. Darien Public Schools is currently reporting 37 active cases of COVID-19, according to the district.

With two town-run clinics in November, at least half of the eligible children ages 5 to 11 in Darien have been given their first doses of the vaccine, McNally said. By mid-December, the town expects to complete vaccinations for at least 750 children, she said.

Knauf also noted Monday that there have been at least 24 breakthrough cases of COVID-19 in fully vaccinated adults.

Darien resident Preeti Khandelwal said she does not want to become one of those breakthrough cases. She received her booster shot during a town-run vaccination clinic on Tuesday, and said staying on top of her vaccinations gives her peace of mind.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Khandelwal said, adding that her 5-year-old twins were just vaccinated but her youngest child, just 2 years old, is still vulnerable. “I want to save myself and my loved ones from COVID-19 in whatever way I can. This is the least I can do.”

Darien is actively monitoring the omicron variant as it spreads rapidly across the country, McNally said. She asked residents to do their part in curtailing its spread.

“While I can appreciate a certain level of COVID fatigue, this is not the time to let down our guard,” she said. “Even the most basic thing such as washing your hands can help. So let’s spread joy, not COVID this holiday season!”

raga.justin@hearst.com