‘We don’t want to make arrests but we will if we have to’: Naugatuck Valley leaders trying to control COVID uptick; make plea to public to follow guidelines

New Haven

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — The COVID uptick has leaders in the Greater Waterbury area speaking up and urging the public to continue to follow the COVID-19 guidelines and to continue to take this pandemic seriously.

“I’ve had it,” said Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary, speaking for the first time to a television news crew about his personal battle with COVID-19. “It is nothing to take lightly. It is a very serious virus and it can take your life.”

So far, it’s taken the lives of about 200 people in Waterbury alone.

As of the writing of this article, The Naugatuck Valley Health District says COVID infections are climbing in this part of Connecticut.They report, across the district, there have been 55 more cases throughout the Greater Waterbury area since Friday. Some of those numbers include:

  • 15 more cases in Shelton
  • 13 more in Ansonia
  • 10 more in Seymour
  • 8 more in Naugatuck
  • 5 more in Derby
  • 4 more in Beacon Falls

Those are all just since last Friday. The numbers are staggering in the city of Waterbury over the last 20 days — 745 cases.

Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary has decided police should keep a close watch on people, groups, or businesses that are violating COVID safety guidelines. Waterbury police recently stopped an after-hours hangout party that’s been happening on Fairfield Avenue after getting complaints about large groups and loud noise.

“We will respond to each and every one of those incidents and we will make sure people are following the rules as they should,” said Mayor O’Leary. “We don’t want to make arrests and we don’t want to be COVID enforcers, but we will if we have to.”

In Wolcott, the superintendent of schools has gone online to plead with residents there to wear facemasks, which has been a point of contention in town.

“I’m asking that everyone in the community please do your best to wear a mask, to socially distance as much as possible,” he said. “I know it’s a hassle. We’re all getting tired of this– fatigued.”

Wolcott’s mayor, Thomas Dunn, also posting this on Facebook:

“There seems to be a slight division on what is right to do during this pandemic,” he wrote. “As your mayor, your safety is my first priority.. none of us is happy about this situation… I am not a doctor. I am not a scientist. I am just asking all of you to please just have the patience and follow the guidelines and hopefully we can start seeing some normally soon.”

The new normal that people in the Valley are starting to see now includes more testing sites and ones that are being expanded, as well. The testing site in the Waterbury PAL parking lot on Division Street has gone from one day a week to five.

That, along with other sites across Waterbury have resulted in the city giving out almost 6,500 more COVID tests in the last week.

Beginning Wednesday, Nov. 11, Griffin Hospital in Derby will begin hosting a free, no appointment necessary drive-thru COVID-19 testing clinic at the Ion Bank parking lot in Naugatuck on 1430 New Haven Road. It will be open Wednesdays 11 am – 3 pm. You can schedule an appointment, if you would prefer, by calling the scheduling hotline at 203-437-6815 between 8 am and 3 pm.

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