MERIDEN — The city's surge in coronavirus cases has continued, with 50 more cases last week increasing Meriden's daily rate of new COVID-19 occurrences beyond that of Connecticut cities twice its size.
With its 337 confirmed cases documented for the week of Nov. 14, Meriden's daily rate of new COVID-19 infections is now 74.9 cases per 100,000 residents. Among the state's five largest cities (by population), only the state's largest city, Bridgeport, had a greater daily infection rate, 77.7, than Meriden's for that week, according to state Department of Public Health data released on Thursday.
The daily infection rate shows how many new cases are in a given area each day and how many newly infected people there could be within a given population — in this case, 100,000 people. Meriden's new infection rate shows how the city is being impacted by the virus. It was 52.3 cases for the week ending Nov. 7, nearly double the 28.6 cases reported in the previous week.
By comparison, Bridgeport had a daily infection rate of 77.7 cases, while the state's second-largest city, New Haven, had 31.1 new daily cases. Stamford (53.6) and Hartford (62) had lesser daily new-case rates despite all having more than double the population of Meriden's 59,000. Waterbury had 65.9 daily new cases, and a population of slightly less than twice Meriden's, 107,000.
Most Connecticut municipalities are inundated with COVID-19 cases. As of Thursday, 145 cities and towns out of 169 were in the red zone, the state’s designation for the areas hardest hit by coronavirus, Gov. Ned Lamont said. The red zone designation means that the municipalities have an average daily COVID-19 case rate during the last two weeks of greater than 15 per 100,000.
This is the second week in a row where Meriden's estimated per-day case rate is up there with Bridgeport's, said Meriden Mayor Kevin Scarpati, who blamed people flouting coronavirus restrictions for the abysmal trend.
"We knew that there was going to be an issue coming into the winter, as people try to do more indoors," Scarpati said Friday. "COVID fatigue is very real. People are letting their guard down."
The increase in the number of Meriden's coronavirus cases is very troubling, Scarpati said. The city had 337 confirmed new cases last week compared to 287 the week before. Since the start of the pandemic, Meriden has had 2,147 confirmed COVID-19 cases, a steep increase from the 1,392 cases reported on Nov. 2. Ninety Meridenites have died from the virus.
Wallingford, Southington, Cheshire
Wallingford had a larger jump in confirmed new cases as well, 220 as of Nov. 14, compared to 137 new cases the week before. Wallingford had a per-day case rate estimate of 57.3 last week. Since the pandemic began, the town has had 1,266 cases. It had 764 on Nov. 2.
Southington, meanwhile, had a decrease in the number of new cases, falling from 139 cases to 127. Southington's daily new case rate is 43.4. Cheshire had an increase to 84 cases last week from 55 the week before, and a rate of 34 cases per 100,000.
Southington has had 866 cases overall and 540 since Nov. 2. Cheshire has had 553, up from 375 on the same date.
Nothing will likely stem the flood of new cases except more mask-wearing, social-distancing, hand-washing and, possibly most of all, quarantining. Too many people are flouting those precautions in private settings, such as their homes, said Scarpati and Wallingford Chief Sanitarian Vanessa Bautista.
"I have gotten reports of people being told to stay home and quarantine, but they think they can run out to the store or go for a walk in their neighborhood," Scarpati said.
"People are just not following quarantine," Bautista said.
Municipal officials can do little more than they have already to prevent the spread of the virus, Bautista said.
"It's not ebola, so we can't have a police officer outside (a quarantined home) tracking every move,” Bautista said. “We don't have the manpower to do that at this point.”