By Thomas Nocera, Staff Writer
HARTFORD — Hartford has likely set a grim and new global record as it struggles to contain its own Coronavirus outbreak – the youngest victim to die from the illness passed away in the city in April.
It is reportedly the first around the world.
Just shy of seven-weeks old, the infant girl was reported to be in an unresponsive state when rushed to St. Francis Hospital, according to officials. Though doctors and nurses tried desperately to resuscitate her, Chief State Medical Examiner James Gill confirmed the child’s death on Thursday in an email.
“The infant did test positive for the COVID-19 virus and an autopsy was done at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner,” Gill wrote.
While medical officials say they can’t confirm the final cause of death until a necessary battery of tests is performed, the news has already rippled throughout the state. With the death of someone so young from the illness a rarity, Gov. Ned Lamont addressed the “tragic milestone” in a press conference.
“Probably the youngest person, ever, to die of COVID,” he recently informed viewers, “has died here in Connecticut.”
Urging people to continue practicing social distancing, Lamont joined an increasingly loud chorus of elected officials asking for the public’s help – including Mayor Luke Bronin. In a press conference Friday, Bronin announced a troubling new statistic: the 120 now-confirmed COVID cases in Hartford marks a 50 percent increase from just two days ago. In response, he said, his administration would be enforcing new, stricter measures.
“We are stepping up enforcement efforts to require social distancing,” he said. Specifically, inspectors will be “assessing compliance with social distancing requirements” at many stores still open throughout the city.
As the virus slowly burns its way through communities across the country, Hartford’s steady increase in cases has been thoroughly tracked and documented. While cases are spread widely throughout, pinpointed statistics on everything from the number of cases and deaths, to changes in the rate of infection, have been essential in informing the government’s response. Those statistics aren’t compiled in Hartford however. Instead they make their way through a web of hospitals and state officials before hitting the Mayor’s desk. Hartford’s Director of Health, Liany Arroyo, explained how that network functions in a statement:
“We receive information about cases and fatalities from the State Department of Public Health, which receives data from hospitals and laboratories. The numbers we get are directly from the State, which compiles information and inputs it into a statewide database which our local Health Department accesses multiple times a day.”
Analysis of that database has led city officials to embrace more stringent rules, concluding that the outbreak will get worse before it gets better. While Bronin hopes his new measures will eventually help decrease the number of cases, he struck a somber tone about the near future.
“We’re going to be in this for a while,” he said Friday. “We’re going to be seeing increases for a while.”