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COVID-19 complaints to Wallingford Health Department drop by 82%

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WALLINGFORD — Complaints related to COVID-19 made to the town Health Department dropped 82 percent during the second year of the pandemic, according to the department’s annual report for 2021.

Health Department officials investigated 30 COVID-19-related complaints last year, down from 169 in 2020. Details of the complaints were not immediately available Monday.

Town Health Director Steve Civitelli said via email that once Gov. Lamont's executive orders expired for the business sector, it resulted in fewer complaints related to COVID-19.

The Health Department categorizes COVID-19-related complaints as nuisance complaints along with reports of garbage, odors, dog feces, bed bugs, mold or rodents and sanitary conditions at restaurants, grocery stores, hair and nail salons.

Nuisance complaints received by town health officials fell overall by about 48 percent over last year with decreases in nearly every category, except for tick submissions which more than doubled from 15 in 2020 to 35 in 2021.

The total number of nuisance complaints reached 168 last year. Only 4 percent those complaints were deemed health code violations and led to legal compliance orders. Nearly 18 percent of all nuisance complaints were COVID-19-related.

The number of environmental health inspections rose 17.6 percent from 2020, with the most significant increase in food service inspections which rose 28.6 percent.

The department conducted 882 food inspections at 288 establishments, including 97 re-inspections, and 48 temporary events — as well as 186 other environmental inspections including hair salons, swimming pools, day cares, lead risks, septic permits and well permits.

The rise in food inspections pushed the total closer to pre-pandemic levels.

Between 2019 and 2020, the total number of food inspections performed by the health department dropped from 1,012 to 686, or 32.2 percent. Civitelli said at the time that the decrease was due to restaurants and salons being closed a good part of the year.

Vax clinics, support to schools

The annual report gives an overview of the essential services the Health Department provides to Wallingford.

In addition to investigating health problems and hazards, Health Department staff are involved with health monitoring, education, community partnerships, developing policies, enforcing laws, providing access to care and public health workforce training.

Civitelli, one of the town’s deputy emergency managers, said Monday that one highlight of 2021 was the Health Department’s collaboration with local agencies and town departments to provide COVID-19 vaccination clinic services.

Health staff were involved in COVID-19 case investigation, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine notifications, according to the annual report.

Staff assisted in COVID-19 data collection and reporting, supply delivery, outreach and education, media and communications and material development.

The Health Department worked closely with Wallingford Public Schools “in navigating the multitude of items that needed to be addressed in operating the schools during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the report stated.

“Providing support to the school administration and nurses has proven to be a vital aspect of our community's pandemic response,” the report stated.

The Medical Reserve Corps volunteers — both medical professionals and non-medical people — assisted with the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic, including assistance with mass vaccination clinics, contact tracing and COVID-19 testing centers, according to the report.

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


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