'We can't let our guard down': Greenwich COVID numbers declining, but Camillo urges caution

Photo of Ken Borsuk
Greenwich First Selectman Fred Camillo said he will look to make an appointment for a vaccination when he is eligible starting on March 1.

Greenwich First Selectman Fred Camillo said he will look to make an appointment for a vaccination when he is eligible starting on March 1.

File / Tyler Sizemore / Hearst Connecticut Media

GREENWICH — With warm weather approaching, Greenwich beaches and outdoor recreation are set to open as scheduled — provided people continue to observe social distancing and other COVID-19 guidelines, the first selectman cautioned.

“Last year, even with no vaccine out there, when summer came and we got better weather, we were able to relax some restrictions and we got through it really well,” First Selectman Fred Camillo said Wednesday. “Certainly there are a lot of positive indicators out there but we have to keep sounding the alarm to stay the course. We can’t let our guard down, especially now at this late stage. We have to keep focused and we’ll get there quickly and safely.”

Last year, the start of the beach season was delayed and the town’s parks, marinas and golf course were temporarily closed due to the pandemic. But they are all scheduled to open on time this spring, Camillo said, with no restrictions or safety policies beyond what is already in place.

“There are no plans to intensify those policies or make them more strict,” he said. “I think things will be getting better with each passing week as long as people keep adhering to the guidelines.”

Camillo said the number of active cases of residents who have been diagnosed with the coronavirus is down to 140, a decrease of 45 people from last week. And Greenwich Hospital is reporting a continuing steady rate in hospitalized patients.

Dana Marnane, Greenwich Hospital’s vice president of public relations, said there were 28 COVID-positive patients in the hospital with two on ventilators in the intensive care unit — a decrease from the last report on Feb. 17 and within the range the hospital has seen in recent weeks.

“We seem to be hovering between the mid 20s and the low 30s which is pretty much what we were experiencing last week,” Marnane said.

Marnane said overall there are 213 COVID-positive patients within the Yale New Haven Health System, which Greenwich Hospital is a part of, down from 215 the week before.

She said more than 100,000 vaccinations have been provided through the health system and more than 6,000 of them have come from Greenwich Hospital’s clinic at Brunswick School’s King Street campus.

Vaccination eligibility is set to expand on Monday to people 55 and older plus teachers and professional childcare providers.

Announced Monday by Gov. Ned Lamont, the plan differs from what the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been recommending. Initially the state had been poised to expand the next phase of vaccinations to “essential workers” and those with preexisting health conditions.

The change was celebrated by some, particularly teachers, but decried by others who have health issues that make them more vulnerable to the effects of the novel coronavirus. Instead, they will have to wait until their age bracket can sign up.

“I’m certainly not going to second guess the governor’s advisers that spurred him in this direction,” Camillo said. “I do worry about those with underlying conditions because as we’ve seen with this virus, it’s unpredictable and it goes in and out of some people with no symptoms and in others it takes them down.”

Lamont and his advisers say this set-up will get more people vaccinated quicker, but “you feel for people who were told they were next and then all of a sudden the rules got changed in the middle of the game,” Camillo said.

Marnane said people who are eligible will be able to sign up for the appointments starting at 12:01 a.m. on March 1.

Camillo, who is 58, said he plans to be up at midnight to make his appointment.

“We are seeing better and better numbers as we go along, and with more people being vaccinated ... things are starting to look up for everybody,” the first selectman said. “We’re not there yet but things are looking better.”

All vaccinations are by appointment only and walk-ins are not permitted. Teachers will have dedicated clinics in the state for their vaccinations but so far none have been announced for Greenwich.

The town’s three-day-a-week vaccination clinic at Town Hall and Family Center Inc.’s five-day-a-week clinic at Eastern Greenwich Civic Center are taking appointments through the federal VAMS system at https://dphsubmissions.ct.gov/onlinevaccine.

kborsuk@greenwichtime.com