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Wallingford has about as many COVID deaths as Meriden, despite fewer cases. Here’s why.

Wallingford has about as many COVID deaths as Meriden, despite fewer cases. Here’s why.

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As of Wednesday, Meriden and Wallingford have reported roughly the same number of deaths from COVID-19, but Meriden has nearly twice the number of reported cases.

That could be attributable to Meriden’s higher population but also to familial spread, which has shown up a lot in contact tracing, said Meriden Health & Human Services Director Lea Crown.

“When one family member has a positive test, most likely it is only a matter of time before other family members start to feel ill and subsequently test positive,” Crown said. “This is why we encourage following the CDC guidelines for self-isolation and self-quarantine.”

According to state numbers released Wednesday, Meriden reported 972 cases and 74 deaths while Wallingford reported 509 cases and 70 deaths.

The state Department of Public Health logs the information in the Connecticut Electronic Disease Surveillance System, which is accessible by each local health department.

Crown said that even though Connecticut as a whole is doing well with a reduced number of positive cases, “persons should not lose sight of social distancing, wearing a face mask when out in public, washing their hands frequently and cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched areas in the home. We also encourage avoiding crowds and large events whenever possible.”

Positive cases and deaths are reportable by town of residence and identified based on the individual’s home address.

“Meriden is fortunate to have a hospital, a community health center, and an urgent care center that does testing,” Crown said. “Between the three locations, testing is available seven days per week.

Nursing homes

There’s also the fact that in Wallingford, 68 out of the 70 reported deaths from COVID-19 have occurred in nursing homes or assisted living facilities.

As of July 23, the date of the most recent state-released data, Meriden has 49 reported nursing home deaths from COVID-19.

Since the pandemic began, Masonicare Health Center’s long-term care facility has reported three COVID-19-related deaths among residents and four deaths at Ashlar Village.

Skyview Rehab and Nursing has reported 10, Quinnipiac Valley Center has reported 13 and Regency House reported 38.

Wallingford Health Director Stephen Civitelli said Tuesday the state’s data shows that “nursing homes were disproportionately impacted when compared to our community fatalities.”

“The prevalence in the nursing facilities may have been higher,” he said, "however with limited testing capacity in March and April, it is difficult to determine at this point in time.”

The state health department licenses and inspects nursing homes and is assisting each facility with testing.

Gov. Ned Lamont’s executive order 7UU requires that all private and public nursing home facilities test all staff members weekly through the end of the public health emergency. Testing also is conducted on residents.

Quinnipiac Valley Center, run by Genesis Healthcare, opened a COVID-19 recovery unit in May, which has been managed separately from the remainder of the facility, with space for up to 30 patients.

The recovery unit takes COVID-19 adult patients from inundated partner hospitals to expand hospital capacity and from other skilled nursing facilities as a way for facilities to cohort COVID-19 patients away from other patients.

Lori Mayer, Genesis Healthcare spokesperson, said Wednesday that since its opening, the COVID-19 unit has admitted 48 patients for rehabilitation. None of those patients have died. The unit size and staffing have remained the same since opening.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to those impacted by COVID-19, especially the families of the residents that passed away in an earlier outbreak at the center,” she said in a statement.

LTakores@record-journal.com203-317-2212Twitter: @LCTakores

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