Police Chief and mayor’s aide among COVID cases in Waterbury uptick, causing more people to get tested

New Haven

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — The lines at Waterbury’s COVID-19 testing sites have recently gotten much longer. This after Mayor Neil O’Leary and Police Chief Fernando C. Spagnolo, among others, tested positive for the virus this week.

RELATED: Waterbury chief of police tests positive for COVID-19, says 2 officers were exposed on-duty

It’s becoming a familiar sight in Waterbury: long lines of people trying to get tested for COVID-19 at one of several sites established by the city and other organizations, like St. Mary’s Hospital.

“Yesterday I tried at four locations at 10 a.m. and I was finally out of there at 1:45 p.m.,” said Waterbury resident, Michael Cervellino.

People in line at the site in the parking lot of Waterbury’s main retail shopping complex at Brass Mill Center were overheard saying they had been in line for hours.

By lunch time, the drive-up site at St. Mary’s Hospital and the site at the mall had more than 350 people combined.

“By the time 9 a.m. rolled around, we had, in line waiting to go what we normally have as a daily capacity,” said Adam Rinko, Waterbury’s Director of Emergency Management.

The rise in COVID cases is fueling this. As of the writing of this report, the city had experienced at least six new positive cases since Thursday. Two of them included the police chief and an aide to Mayor O’Leary inside Waterbury City Hall.

Wendy Tyson-Wood got in line because of those two high-profile positive cases in her city.

“A hundred percent,” she said. “That was the main drive for me to come down here specifically today.”

Waterbury Police Chief Spagnolo telling News 8 via Facetime how COVID-19 has impacted him so far. He took a test Sunday morning and it came back positive.

“Still a little stuffy, scratchy throat, body aches,” said Chief Spagnolo.

The chief telling News 8 he believes he could’ve contracted the virus on two separate occasions: 1 — from several officers who were serving a search warrant on someone who was infected or 2– at a dinner meeting last Tuesday night.

“I was at a meeting on Tuesday night with five other people,” Chief Spagnolo said. “At this point, three of the people at that meeting, including myself, have tested positive.”

The chief says he’s working from home and under quarantine for 14 days. He still runs police department meetings remotely via Zoom. He says he’s been overwhelmed with the well-wishes from people in the community. And he has this message for the community he protects and serves:

“I think that it’s important that people get tested,” he said.

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