SOUTHBURY — During the Board of Selectmen meeting on Thursday, June 18, First Selectman Jeff Manville introduced Scott Furr, who provided the board with an Emergency Operations Center update.
He shared statistics from www.Covidusa.net to review average cases and deaths, focusing on what he called the most significant piece of data: the percentage of positive test results.
The site said that 5.8 percent of all Covid-19 test results are positive.
Mr. Furr pointed out that the number of tests includes repeated tests on the same people, noting the target result set by the World Health Organization is 10 percent.
He compared different states to note that lags in reporting cause some jags in the graphs, then highlighted Connecticut’s numbers to show a downward trend in percentage of positive test results, with those peaks and valleys appearing.
“It’s very good news for the state of Connecticut,” he said, explaining the state peaked in hospitalization rates on April 22, acknowledging regret for every death before he illustrated a downward trend in fatalities.
Reading data from several states, he surmised that the coronavirus may have mutated or is less contagious because he would have expected to see higher results.
Mr. Furr qualified his comments by noting he is not an epidemiologist.
Mr. Manville asked Mr. Furr if he thought Southbury was recovering.
Mr. Furr responded yes before pointing to the data in his presentation to repeat that the peak happened in April 22, when 60 percent of people tested received positive results.
He advised the town to reopen, but to reinforce the message that, when people feel unwell, they should wear a mask.
Mr. Manville agreed that there are fewer cases and said he believes the town is in good shape moving forward.
Following the presentation, Selectman Mike Rosen said he would prefer the message to be that everyone should wear masks to dramatically reduce the spread of the virus in order to help businesses and restart the economy.
Selectman George Bertram asked if the data can be broken down to show how many cases were from nursing homes and if there is contact tracing available in Connecticut or other states to indicate how people were infected.
Mr. Furr responded that he did not have that data at the meeting and that contact tracing is moot if the person’s incubation period is two weeks and they cannot remember all the people they’ve met in that period.
He expects contact tracing to improve.
In other business, the selectmen discussed the community climate regarding racism.
Mr. Rosen described the conversation as important to have and thanked the several residents who spoke during public participation to agree and disagree with that action.
He shared ideas for discussion and a starting point including a public acknowledgment from the selectmen as town leaders that Southbury has a racism and bigotry problem, an apology to the town’s black and brown residents, meaningful investments in diversity training for town and school employees and residents, a policy of diversity inclusion implemented by an ad hoc task force, and a one-strike policy for town and school employees that exhibit racist or bigoted behavior.
Selectman Jason Buchsbaum said he’s reached out to residents before noting that the community leaders are acknowledging the tragic death of George Floyd as they begin discussions and the importance of education in this matter.
He said town leaders must make sure that members of the community feel welcome and included by listening, talking and working to achieve next steps.
The selectmen agreed to discuss the matter but, as did several residents during public participation, disagreed with the suggestion of an apology because of how that would paint the town with a broad stroke.