On Oct. 22, the town of Fairfield, Conn. was placed on red alert for COVID-19 cases. However, on Oct. 30, Fairfield improved to a code orange, while the city of Bridgeport is now listed as a red alert community according to the Sacred Heart Coronavirus Planning Team.
Being a red alert community means that “the town has a two-week average daily case rate higher than 15 per 100,000 residents. The town attributed the increase in cases largely to an outbreak at Fairfield University, but Sacred Heart’s cases are contributing, too,” according to an email from the Sacred Heart Coronavirus Planning Team.
From analyzing the data, Michael Iannazzi, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Sacred Heart, knows the increase in cases is not coming from the classroom.
“The virus is really spreading in these informal social circumstances. Not in the classroom, not in the workplace,” said Iannazzi. “In social gatherings, in home situations, that’s where it is spreading.”
While Fairfield was previously identified as a red zone, there are currently other southeastern towns in Connecticut still on red alert.
“In other parts of the state, East Hartford, Norwalk, Fairfield, Prospect and Waterbury were identified as red alert communities,” according to AP reporters.
Iannazzi wants students to be aware that COVID-19 is here and will be around even when people think it is gone. Even though students are more distanced on the Sacred Heart campus, Iannazzi would like the university community to always keep this in mind when both on and off campus.
“When you don’t have that structure, and you are in a more social circumstance, that’s where the danger is,” said Iannazzi. “We are always trying to message that in our COVID emails and updates.
One way that Sacred Heart has tried to combat the spread of the virus is to increase their random COVID-19 testing.
Iannazzi said, “We are lucky and fortunate that we have access to this new testing with SalivaDirect. We have enough testing to now test up to 2,000 people a week.”
Gary MacNamara, the Chief Executive Director of Public Safety and Governmental Affairs at Sacred Heart, wants to make sure that students continue to go to their COVID-19 tests when selected.
“We are shooting for 400 a day with Saliva Direct, and we couldn’t meet that number because we had difficulties getting students to come,” said MacNamara.
Although COVID-19 numbers are rising in Fairfield, MacNamara mentioned how he does not want students to fear the virus.
“Concern is always good, fear is not. We are not trying to drive fear in these conversations, we are trying to drive concern,” said MacNamara.
Junior Frank Turechek believes that Fairfield’s shops and restaurants are where a great number of students go on the weekend for entertainment, so this may be where a large percentage of the increase in COVID-19 numbers is occuring.
“The state has opened up more in capacity, and Fairfield has a lot of restaurants and stores compared to other towns,” said Turechek. “However, I am not going to those areas that are very congested on the weekends. I am trying to stay safe during this recent uptick in numbers.”
As of press time, Fairfield remains at a level of orange.