Hartford, Danbury and 9 other municipalities identified as active COVID-19 hot spots

Hartford, Danbury, Norwich, New London, Canterbury, East Lyme, Griswold, Montville, Preston, Sprague and Windham were designated as COVID-19 hot spots by Gov. Ned Lamont on Thursday, reflecting growing concern about outbreaks in the state.

A color-coded map of towns and cities released Thursday lists those 11 municipalities in the “red alert” category, in which officials recommend public events be canceled and that individuals limit trips outside the home, wear masks outside at all times and avoid gatherings with non-family members. Local officials there also have the option to roll back the reopening of businesses.

“COVID is a very contagious disease, and it is spreading right now in Connecticut,” said Dr. Deidre Gifford, acting commissioner of public health. “The purpose of this new alert level map is to make sure every person in Connecticut can look at that map and know where their town is … and take the actions that we’re recommending.”

The municipalities in question, all have experienced at least 15 daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents.

Of those municipalities, nine are in eastern Connecticut, with Hartford and Danbury the two exceptions. Danbury has seen a steady flow of cases since August, while Hartford’s numbers have increased more recently, along with those in the New London area.

“We had seen from Danbury that we can contain this on  just a municipal basis,” Lamont said. “We also know that it also can have some regional spread — another thing that we’re following very carefully.”

Towns and cities with at least 25 daily cases per 100,000 residents (currently just Norwich and New London) are also recommended to “consider more distance learning” in K-12 schools.

Lamont suggested last week the state would begin a more localized approach to fighting COVID-19, with increased discretion for municipal officials in highly affected areas. On Tuesday, he announced an executive order allowing authorities in certain towns and cities to roll back from Phase 3 of reopening to Phase 2, which featured tighter restrictions on restaurants, libraries, hair salons, places of worship, performance venues and more.

Last week, the state identified only four municipalities — New London, Norwich, Windham and Preston — as coronavirus hot spots. The list nearly tripled this week, as the virus continued to spread across the state  particularly in New London County.

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