Overconfidence, impatience, carelessness, the illusion of invulnerability — something is causing more young people in Ridgefield to become infected with coronavirus, according to the town health department.

Town officials are pleading with people — especially the young — to remain vigilant about social distancing, wearing masks, self-quarantining after exposure and being careful.

“Young people can die from this virus. They need to realize it,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi said, who fought his own intense battle with COVID-19 back in the spring. “It’s serious. I can personally vouch for that.”

Town Health Director Ed Briggs raised the issue of more younger people testing positive for the disease in a news release from the town Office of Emergency Management on July 9.

“The last 10 positive tests were reported for patients ranging in age from less than one year to 86 with the majority in their 20s, 30s and 40s,” Briggs said. “This suggests that younger folks are getting out more and may be getting a little careless with precautions such as social distancing and mask wearing.”

“The important take-away is that we’re seeing a younger positive test group,” Marconi said. “And according to Ed Briggs, after speaking with multiple area health departments, everyone, all municipalities are beginning to experience the same trend. ... What Ed found is the average age of those becoming infected is dropping, an indication younger people are relaxing relative to the protocols of face covering and social distancing. And we need to be very much aware of that and focus our effort in that area, of educating younger people about the consequences and what can happen if you were to catch an unfortunately difficult strain of this virus.”

Marconi outlined the age range of people testing positive that Briggs had brought to his attention.

“The range was from 1-year-old to 80, there were four or five in that 19 to 44 range,” he said. “If you were to average those, versus a couple of months ago, there’s a definite decline in the average age.”

High-risk group

It remains the case that older people are most at risk.

“In Ridgefield, we’ve had 42 deaths, 39 of which were associated with the assisted living and nursing home on Route 7. The other three were spread throughout the community. Most deaths were senior citizens,” Marconi said.

Figures on positive tests for COVID-19 disease in town — or, at least, among those Ridgefielders who have sought tests — show the rate of infection at about 6 to 7 percent.

“We’ve had about 218 to 225 positive tests out of approximately 3,200 tests being given. That number changes every day, as people are tested,” Marconi said. “...We’re running about 6 percent if you took 3,200 tests and 218 were positive, but again, that’s going to be skewed by the nursing home.”

Marconi said the situations in the Laurel Ridge nursing home and Ridgefield Crossings assisted living facility, both on Route 7, have improved.

“They’ve really tightened their testing protocol, the patients coming in are tested, proper PPE, policy changes,” Marconi said.

Looking at the people who attended the townwide testing events held on a few Saturdays at the Recreation Center — in effect, eliminating people from the long-term care facilities — the rate of positives goes down.

“What we have experienced in our own Ridgefield testing, we’ve tested about 740 people, and out of that, I think we had six positives. So that’s under 1 percent,” Marconi said.

Marconi also noted the total of positive tests — that 218 to 225 number — is cumulative. It includes everyone from Ridgefield who’s been tested over the course of the pandemic, not how many people are currently positive.

“Rudy Marconi is one of 220, but I have been fully recovered for two months now,” he said. “My name doesn’t come off that list. And that’s where it’s a little misleading. The most important part is the number of active cases in our community, and that number was hovering at about 12 as of a week ago.”

Marconi said there is another townwide testing session planned at the Recreation Center in August, but the final date has not been confirmed.