The number of towns on the list nearly tripled from last week. They will have the option to roll back to the second reopening phase.
CONNECTICUT — Connecticut now has 11 towns in the state's "red" alert zone for coronavirus infections, which is up from four last week. The towns will be eligible to scale back to the state's second reopening phase if they choose. Most of the towns are clustered in southeastern Connecticut, but Hartford and Danbury also made the list.
Towns enter the red zone if their daily coronavirus case average goes above 15 cases per 100,000 people. The towns on the list include: Canterbury, Danbury, East Lyme, Griswold, Hartford, Montville, Norwich, New London, Preston, Sprague and Windham.
Gov. Ned Lamont expressed concern that Danbury was still experiencing a high number of infections after the city saw an outbreak in late August.
"I don't like the fact that Danbury is still on this as a red alert because we've been bringing in the cavalry for you know three or four weeks," he said.
Danbury's positive test rate dropped from a high of 7 percent to about 4 percent.
"It's worth remembering that when COVID hits, it goes up like a hockey stick and it goes down a lot more gradually," Lamont said, referencing how infection levels can rapidly expand in a sudden manner.
Connecticut reported another 213 positive coronavirus cases Thursday and a positive test rate of 1.3 percent. Net coronavirus hospitalizations increased by three patients up to 191. Three more coronavirus-related deaths were reported, which brought the state total up to 4,540.
State health officials reiterated the importance of mask use and social distancing during small social gatherings where people tend to let their guard down.
"This virus is extremely contagious and it's very easy to catch it," said state Department of Public Health Commissioner Deidre Gifford. "So if you're in an indoor setting with somebody who's not part of your household bubble, you can catch the virus from them, even if they have no symptoms."
Connecticut is far from the only state that is seeing spread from small social events. White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx came to Connecticut last week to reiterate the importance of mask use in small social gatherings. Contact tracing data from across the country shows that small social gatherings are a leading driver of infections.
The red alert towns will have until Monday to decide whether they revert back to phase two per Lamont's executive order. Windham is considering the rollback, Lamont said.
DPH issues a public health alert in towns that reach the threshold and encourages towns to consider going to distance learning once the average daily case count goes above 25 per 100,000 population.
DPH also advises people in red alert towns to limit trips outside of their home and avoid social gatherings with non-family members. Community groups are asked to postpone indoor activities and outdoor activities where social distancing and mask use can't be maintained at all times.
"The transmission we're seeing is happening among friends, family and co-workers," Gifford said. She added that transmission among coworkers seems to be happening during social gatherings either at or outside of the workplace.