Masonicare’s outbreak is slowing as COVID-19 spreads in area towns

WALLINGFORD — Four new cases discovered over the weekend leave the town’s largest health-care facility with 26 confirmed COVID-19 infections, a spokeswoman said Monday.

The discovery of two patient infections at Masonicare Health Center, on Friday and Sunday, plus two workers who apparently caught the virus outside of work, brings the total number of infections known to the eldercare facility up from 22, said Ann Collette, Masonicare's vice president for strategy and business development.

The 22 cases included 16 patients from the third floor of the Ramage building at Masonicare, where the outbreak was first recognized when a third-floor worker reported feeling a mild cough and some fatigue on July 14. That floor has been quarantined and virus testing, which had stopped on July 1, has been reinstituted.

“The positive cases remain isolated to one floor and the positivity rate has slowed. We are cautiously optimistic but remain ever vigilant,” said Courtney Wood, Masonicare’s long term care administrator. “This is a much different picture than last year. Fortunately, our residents have been vaccinated and their symptoms appear to be mild. We will continue to monitor the unit with daily testing as indicated and ensure the highest adherence to infection prevention protocol.”

The unit’s cases are a small part of a coronavirus resurgence that moved Gov. Ned Lamont to warn on Monday that some coronavirus restrictions might be reimplemented despite the state having one of the nation’s highest vaccination rates. State Department of Public Health officials issued an alert Sunday that strongly recommended all Connecticut residents over age 2 to wear face masks in indoor public spaces, whether vaccinated or not. 

People at high risk of complications from COVID-19, such as those with asthma, diabetes or pregnancy, should avoid large indoor gatherings, officials said.

Most state cases involve a Delta variant of the virus, called a breakthrough version of the disease because it infects people already vaccinated. The symptoms have generally been much milder than with the original COVID-19, like what Masonicare has experienced, although Masonic hasn’t determined whether its cases are Deltas.

The facility has maintained a 96% vaccination rate overall, with some patients or staff being granted exemptions due to other health issues, Collette has said.

The 18 patients had been injected with Pfizer’s two-dose vaccine, which Masonicare had issued to the 52 patients on that floor. The workers were also vaccinated but might have gotten different vaccines on their own, Collette has said.

The infection rates in Meriden, Wallingford, Southington, Cheshire, Berlin, North Haven and Plainville all appear to be increasing but remain low. As of the week of July 24, Meriden had 31 cases reported, with 16 the week before, and an infection rate of 5.7 per 100,000 people. Wallingford had five or fewer cases reported both those weeks, with an infection rate of five or less per 100,000, according to the state’s COVID-19 tracking dashboard. 

Southington had 29 cases for the week of July 24, up from nine the previous week, for 6.2 cases per 100,000 people. Cheshire had 15 and nine, and 5.9 per 100,000; Berlin, five or less both weeks, and five or less per 100,000; North Haven, 21 and eight, 8.7 per 100,000; and Plainville, five or less both weeks and five or less per 100,000.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified seven of the state’s eight counties as having “substantial transmission” of COVID-19, with Litchfield County likely to meet the substantial threshold soon, officials said.

Information from the Associated Press is included in this report.

nsambides@record-journal.com203-317-2279Twitter: @JrSambides

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