'Back to basics': Trumbull schools note rise in COVID cases

Despite rising vaccination numbers, the best way to reduce COVID-19 infections is by following the basics of mask-wearing, social distancing and hand washing, according to Trumbull health officials.

Despite rising vaccination numbers, the best way to reduce COVID-19 infections is by following the basics of mask-wearing, social distancing and hand washing, according to Trumbull health officials.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

TRUMBULL — Even as more and more people are receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, it remains critical that people follow the rules on mask-wearing and social gathering, according to Trumbull Nursing Director Lynn Steinbrick.

“We’re seeing more play dates and parties,” said Steinbrick. “The weather’s getting nice, people are getting vaccinated and I suspect people are letting their guard down.”

There has been a recent increase in COVID-19 infections in the Trumbull schools which has mirrored a statewide spike in recent weeks, Steinbrick said.

Contact tracing shows that the “vast majority” of the students who have tested positive were exposed to the virus outside of school, she said.

“When we have a COVID case, we connect the dots and see where they got it,” she said. “And what we’re seeing now is that when one household member has it, universally it seems everyone gets it.”

That was not the case previously, Steinbrick said. A more lax attitude toward the virus could be partially to blame, she said.

“A mom doesn’t feel well, but she still sends the kids to school. But then she tests positive,” Steinbrick said. “A few days later the kids test positive.”

With activities like sports, recreational leagues and Easter egg hunts resuming, the increasing infection rate trend could continue if people don’t get “back to the basics” of prevention, even considering that thousands of people are getting vaccinated each day, she said.

“The vaccine reduces greatly reduces your risk, but it’s not like it’s a Teflon shield,” Steinbrick said.

All state residents 16 and older are eligible to receive a vaccine starting April 1. Teens, though, are limited in their vaccination options, and health spokesmen in a number of local communities have said they are not planning any special vaccination clinics for high schoolers because of it.

“The only vaccine that is approved for those 16 and over is the Pfizer vaccine and we do not have that brand,” said Health Director Lucienne Bango. “All other eligible individuals can register (for a Trumbull vaccine clinic) in VAMS.”

Steinbrick said the best thing people can do is to continue to practice the prevention measures that health officials have been urging for the past year.

“Continue to hold strong, and review your symptoms,” she said. “A lot of people who test positive are telling us they experienced symptoms, but thought it was just their allergies.”

An easy way to tell the difference between COVID-19 and allergy symptoms is through the eyes, Steinbrick said. Itchy, watery eyes are unpleasant, but they are not a symptom of COVID-19, Steinbrick said.

The good news, she said, is that one more prevention push could put the state over the hump in fighting the virus.

“I was on the phone today with the Department of Public Health, and we were saying this is the final, strong push,” she said. “But it really does take a village to keep this at bay.”