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Health district: Prison testing drives up Montville COVID-19 numbers

Montville — Positive COVID-19 cases in town jumped over the weekend because of another mass-testing event at the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Institution.

The Department of Health reported on Sunday that Montville had 342 confirmed cases of COVID-19, an increase of 37 cases from Saturday. According to Uncas Health District numbers, Montville had 358 cases, 317 of which come from Corrigan. The 358 cases includes three people who were later determined not to live in Montville.

Uncas Health District Director Patrick McCormack said there was a mass testing event at Corrigan on June 10, when 85 people were tested, so this contributed to the jump. Mayor Ron McDaniel said results from past mass-testing events at Corrigan are still being added to the total number, as well.

“The actual number from Montville so far is 41 cases, which is much more in line with what other towns are seeing,” McCormack said. “For instance, we had 112 in Norwich, and the population of Montville is around two-thirds of what Norwich is, so the numbers are consistent with those of other towns.”

McCormack noted that the pandemic has forced the health district to do daily reporting of data.

“This is our first effort as a health district at providing regular reports on a disease,” McCormack said. It's an aspect of our work that we didn't anticipate, but I think we're doing a pretty successful job.”

McDaniel tends to agree. He repeated on Tuesday what he’s said publicly at town meetings: “I'm only using Uncas Health as my official source of information.” The health district provides context with asterisks next to the names of the towns it covers, whereas the state uses a color-coded map that makes Montville look as hard-hit as Fairfield County, he said.

“If you simply look at one of those color-coded maps, Montville stands out as a viral hot spot,” McDaniel said. “We know that's not the case, however, is that affecting people from coming here and having a hamburger at one of our establishments? Is it stopping people from coming to Mohegan Sun casino? I couldn't say, but I'm sure that if people were just looking on the face of it and not having the background data, it certainly may give them pause.”

s.spinella@theday.com

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