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Norwich officials eagerly await decline in COVID-19 cases

Norwich — City agencies, schools and Norwich Public Utilities eagerly await the projected decline in the current COVID-19 surge but haven’t seen it yet.

During a weekly Friday morning teleconference, Uncas Health District Director Patrick McCormack said in the period from Jan. 2 to 15, Norwich had a COVID-19 case rate of 274.3 per 100,000 population, with a positive test rate of 32.7%. The total number of cases in the 11-town Uncas Health District declined slightly from 1,731 the week ending Jan. 8 to 1,513 for the week ending Jan. 15.

Schools continue to struggle to remain open, Superintendent Kristen Stringfellow said, with 100 to 120 staff members out each day. Schools were forced to close Jan. 14 due to staffing shortages. Stringfellow said it depends on which departments are hit hardest and whether others can fill in, noting it’s “very difficult” to find someone qualified to fill in for school nurses, special education teachers or school psychologists.

Police Chief Patrick Daley said the department is using mandatory overtime to cover all shifts, with 10 police officers currently out with COVID-19 or in quarantine.

NPU General Manager Chris LaRose said the utility is at about 95% staffing levels now, but customers continue to struggle. The utility has had about 1,200 customers registered for hardship payment plans, well above the pre-pandemic normal of about 700 customers.

c.bessette@theday.com

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