Waterbury community mourning loss of middle school teacher who died due to flu virus


WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — The death toll continues to rise during this season’s flu outbreak. The State Department of Public Health out with new numbers, and among those taken by the flu this past week is a middle school teacher from Waterbury.

28-year-old Harley Gaafar, a teacher at West Side Middle School is the 8th person to die within the last week. Officials believe she died on Tuesday after catching the flu. So far this season, 40 people have died in the state. More than 1,700 have been hospitalized.

Harley Gaafar (Photo: Pillwillop Therapeutic Farm Facebook)

RELATED: Waterbury teacher among 8 CT residents who died from the flu this past week

Public health officials say this is unusual and the virus shows no signs of slowing down. You should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. If you can’t wash your hands, hand sanitization with an alcohol based hand sanitizer is very important.

“No vaccine is 100%. You can still get the flu even if you get the flu shot but we believe you’ll have a milder illness in many cases.”

Dr. Virginia Bieluch, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, Hospital of Central Connecticut

“Superintendent Verna D. Ruffin and the Waterbury Public Schools community expresses its deepest condolences to the family of Ms. Harley Gaafar… She was a beloved member of the staff. Grief counselors and social workers have been made available to support the students and staff as they grieve.”

Waterbury Public Schools

A funeral will be held for Gaafar on Friday at 1 p.m.

On Friday, Feb. 14, health experts are giving out free flu shots for those 15-years-old or older in North Stonington at Wheeler Library from 10 a.m. to noon.

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